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Kanye West’s New Video Is A Slight Disappointment

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In the past year, Kanye West has made himself known not just as a great hip-hop artist, but a great music video artist as well. The videos for such songs as “Through The Wire,” “All Falls Down,” and “Jesus Walks” eschewed clichés and showed that hip-hop videos can be creative and artistic. He has even created great music videos for others by directing videos for G.O.O.D. artists John Legend and Common. With such a wonderful music video pedigree already, Kanye tried to top himself with the video for “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” the first single from his highly anticipated new album Late Registration. However, Kanye falls just short of creating another masterpiece.

The video for “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” made its world premiere on Wednesday June 15 on BET, during their Making The Video-esque show Access Granted. Shot on location in Prague, Czech Reupublic in black & white and directed by Hype Williams, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” looks wonderful. The Old World look of the city and its architecture fits perfectly with the song which samples Shirley Bassey’s James Bond movie theme “Diamonds Are Forever.” The European look and feel immediately sets it apart from other hip-hop videos and the cinematography is top-notch. While the scenes of Kanye walking and driving all over Prague are nice, the problem with the video comes with its other main element involving the “blood diamonds” of Sierra Leone.

On the Access Granted special for this video, Kanye noted that Q-Tip told him about the bloodshed going on in some African countries regarding diamonds. Kanye wanted to address this in some way (Q-Tip told him about this after he had already finished the song) and decided to do so in the video (and title) of this song. The video opens with scenes that presumably take place in a diamond mine. Children are shown working in the mine with a voice over in French (it’s subtitled) explaining their plight. More imagery is used throughout the video to represent their plight but unfortunately, that imagery is the weakest in the video.

Most of the imagery that represents the “blood diamonds” is muddled. After the opening, the imagery starts off promisingly enough with a chilling sequence involving a woman wearing a diamond ring. After that, things get confusing. The most confusing sequence involves Kanye West himself. He’s driving his car when he turns around and sees one of the children from the mines. The child isn’t really there but he jumps from the moving car and it crashes. Suddenly, you see a group of the children help Kanye up. They run away and then he runs after them. You then see a nicely shot scene where Kanye and the children are running. What is the meaning behind this sequence? Is Kanye dead and that’s why he sees the children after he jumps out of the car? Do they help him up because he has conflict-free diamonds? Why do they run? Nothing in the video gives you any hints and as a result, the sequence seems pointless.

Overall, I have to give Kanye West and Hype Williams credit for trying. This video is blissfully free of thug posturing, the exploitation and/or objectification of women, and the glorification of sex and violence. It looks more like an avant-garde short film rather than a music video. I must also commend them for bringing attention to a cause that few know about. However, I think that Kanye overreached just a little bit with this one. This video had the potential to be not just good or very good but great. In fact, another session or two in the editing room could make that happen. If any other hip-hop artist (or artist in general) had created this video, it would probably be the best of their career. This video is far from bad and there is a lot to like. Considering the superb catalog of videos Kanye West already has, however, the video for “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” is a disappointment…but only a slight one.

NOTE: One thing I didn’t touch on in my review was the appearance of red dots at the sides of the screen periodically throughout the video. I don’t know if this was done intentionally (to possibly represent the blood of the blood diamonds) or not. I also don’t know if this was because of an issue with BET (my television was not acting up at the time). If it was intentional, it contributes to the problems with the way the blood diamonds are represented in the video. The red dots were annoying and temporarily took your attention away from the video for the wrong reasons.

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  • Jay

    Alright, the part when Kanye crashes into the window, the window is the diamond shop. He breaks the window as a sign that he is against the diamonds of Sierra Leone.. but i dont understand the whole kids helping him up part.. i was a little confused on that too. But i think it was a great video. It taught me something new, I had never heard of the blood diamonds or Sierra Leone.

  • Brittney S.

    The video shed light on a little known topic and motivated me to do my part..It was confusing, but so was other videos where all you see is female body parts shaking for no apparent reason..and i commend kanye for trying to educate..(p.s my wedding ring is conflict-free)

  • Ashley

    Yes, when Kanye jumps out of the car he is crashing into the Diamond shop, but after he gets up and runs with the children it is in some way saying he is going to help them by making bring their (the childrens) torment to the light.

  • Abba Makama

    once again kanye has proven that his style should be distincted from the rest of the hip hop stereotypes in music vidoes. diamonds from sierra leone is definitely a top notch video. i wish thought he would have shot it in sierre leone rather than europe. That would have been much more deeper and cheaper! i’II give it an A-.

  • http://Mel Mel

    i really liked kanye’s video it was really deep unlike all the other videos out there lol anyway i have never heard of blood diomonds until i saw the video so i thot it was very interesting and it is something that i defiantly think that needs to be adressed and STOPPED and im glad kanye brought it 2 the light

  • Dennis

    Anything that sheds light on the atrocities that took place in Sierra Leone from 1991-2001 is progress for that part of the world. Why has the international community turned its head during this civil war, when countries like Rwanda, Sudan, and Ivory Coast are in the spotlight, getting support to help pull them out of their slumps? I am glad that Kanye West has chosen to create awareness with his pop culture influence, and I hope more artists follow his lead.

  • Doug

    Why does this video only depict white people buying diamonds. Why doesn’t it show the Hundreds of rap artists who feel like the more diamonds they have the better. The scene where the man puts the engagement ring on his wife and the blood start crawling up her arm makes me wonder what would happen when you put a diamond cross the size of a hubcap around your neck. The Old white guy taking the diamond out of the child’s hand, and selling it to a white woman is purely racist. This video is racist and hypocritical. I’m curious to see if any rap artists will stop wearing outrageous diamond jewlery, but I doubt it.

  • Phillip Winn

    What percentage of the diamond trade would you say is due to rap artists, Doug?

    I’m guessing that despite the high profile, not much.

  • Ciera

    the point of the child in the car was that the child wanded the car to ruin th e building that sold the blood diamonds and they run because they need to get to the chuch- its ot somthing to have a porpose it just is what it is.

  • becca

    to address the whole ‘video is racist’ comment: i do believe that most of the people in Sierra Leon are black (hence, a BLACK CHILD!) and i also believe, if i am not mistaken, that most trade of diamond occurs in upper-middle class to upper class societies (which, by the way, are mostly WHITE PEOPLE!?)

    now, im sorry. i am a white woman but i just think that people who blanket things as racist before doing a proper analysis of the actual concept are close-minded and (possibly?) ignorant?

    and i just had to had to say something to the person who said sudan was ‘getting pulled out of its slump': !!!!!!! you think that sudan is getting help?!? its a genocide happenening over there! i know i havent read up on it in awhile but i sure would like to know what we are doing to stop this massacre of people that is occuring.

  • Blanton Pierre Hardy

    Hello All,

    First off there was one thing missing from the video that was important that I think Doug touched on and Brittney almost had and that was the issue of diamonds. Which I did hear too much of in the video. As a matter the song itself was contradicting the message which was about blood diamonds.

    The first mention of this in a rap video came from Ms. Dynamite’s video “It takes more” when she said “If it’s not too complex, tell me how many African’s die for the begets on your Rolex.” First off if you know about African history, Africa was the resource of the world. in ancient times. African was the creator of different types of metals from the Gold in Ghana to the Nok Tribe creating Bronze and of course diamonds mines. which contributed to Africa legacy of being an empire. What has happened now is that wars are waged over diamonds and salt mines mainly because of something that is called “Underemployment” which means that there are much resources but very few workers so like at the beginning of the video, slaves are made to mine for the “Blood Diamonds” which is why they are called that because of the blood from mining the diamonds and the death toll that is shed to aquire them.

    Unfortunately even though Kanye has the remix talking about the actual issue, Kanye did not address any of that in the video. He talked about his St. Laurent glasses, how it’s important to let the drop top on the Porshe “Because for yourself that’s important” The only interesting part about the whole video is when he talked about his win on grammy night, which once again had NOTHING to do with what was going on in Africa. Then did you see at the end of the video when it advised to “Buy only conflict free diamonds.” Ninety percent of the time in hip hop, what diamonds are those? If you are not getting murdered in Africa for your diamonds then you are getting murdered in the streets of Brooklyn or Compton for wearing your jewels. So he is saying that you can still wear diamonds as long as they are not conflict related. The video should basically say that it is because of the lust of these diamonds that we are killing ourselves, and we should not lust after diamonds anymore, period.

    If it wasn’t for Q-Tip making the suggestion of putting the word Sierra Leone in the songs title and about the images of African children, I would of never known it was about the African issue that we have in the hip hop community a big part in. I think one observer stated what percentage of the diamond trade is hip hop take in it. Well it does not only have to do with the miners of the diamonds, but also the WEARERS also. So hip hop has a big, BIG take on the African diamond trade since that is what we spend ninety percent of the time showing in videos.

    So basically to Brittey I have to say just keep studying and keep doing the knowledge but also remember not educating a person on an issue is just as worse as as seeing some woman behind shake in the air for no reason and to Doug you were sort of right on point.

    Sorry bout the long post, I just know that not only is it an issue I care about but it’s just some cultural insight from a person that is part of that heritage. Thanks for the talk, take care!!

    Sincerely Yours

    Blanton Pierre Hardy

  • Rona Cue

    I likes the Diamonds video. In fact I want to use it as a lesson (i’m at teacher). Where can I get a copy of the video?

  • Rona Cue

    Sorry for the misspellings in my first comment section. I was in a hurry.

  • L. Cue aka Q.Rock639

    Rona Cue huh? What’s up cuz!

  • M.Sage

    This is a raciest video. All the people shown buying the diamonds are depicted as stiff, up tight white people. Thus implying that whites are responsible for this injustice. How come no rap stars who shower themselves in bling were not portrayed in the video?

  • Phillip Winn

    I think “raciest” was not the word you meant to use. And I point you back to comment #8.

  • cynthia

    so what if black rap artist buy diamonds wheather they are from america or europe they are all africans.the white people were the ones to steal our golds and diamonds and they have taken everything away from us so if us black people buy gold and diamonds their is nothing wrong with that cause it comes from our land and the white people have no right taken that away from us my mother is from sierra leone and she told me the whole story so the white people are just evil.they have the nerve to go to south africa and steal our land,which is just not right.and then they come and say that they should move every black people out of america but the thing is we didn’t kill them for their land which isn’t even theirs,america belongs to the west get over your selves

  • J

    Wow We have Ignorance Tell you what
    Inform Then reform your self
    take the negative and make somthing positive. stop waking up with the Urge to make every thing in your life Racial
    I’t Doesn’t Matter the Shade of your skin. Greed is a poison and Goverment Officials become greedy. And those who Brake their backs to support thier famlys suffer. It’s not just Americans
    YOu need to look at all the kings of the world and look at what the wear and how they eat while thier people die.
    Stop making points Racial it’s taking the point out of the FACTS.

  • gina

    i have never seen this video before. but i read all these comments and i am so appalled by the ignorant racial remarks that were made… especially comment 17. disgusting! can you say overgeneralizations? and just because you or your relatives are from sierra leone doesn’t make all your outrageous statements true. talking like that only perpetuates racism… and it’s so hypocritical. ***i lost all respect for kanye west last night when he made those completely stupid (aka brainless) comments such as “…i hate the way we’re portrayed on TV. black families are shown as looting. white families are shown as looking for food… america is set up not to help poor or black people… and bush doesn’t care about black people…” unbelievable! hmmm… clinton never had any high profile blacks on his staff. i wonder what condi rice would think of her “brother” kanye’s ridiculous statement? and he criticized that the national guard was “given permission to shoot our people.” well, i wonder why. suffering in a hurricane is NO EXCUSE for rape, violence, looting, and shooting! that’s called terrorism… and, yes, the national guard should be able to shoot “your people” if they’re engaging in such depraved, sick behavior! kanye makes it sound like “his people” (which, again, is language that perpetuates racism) are so innocent and are being attacked by “the white man” BECAUSE THEY’RE BLACK. this ridiculous sentiment is very old and sickening, to say the least. it holds absolutely no water. as far as kanye goes, i wish he would change his attitude and use his status in a positive way. it’s about time the black community hears something positive instead of the typical hateful “we’re in this mess because of THE MAN” kind of tirades.

  • Joe

    Kanye West hates white people. Racism is indeed still alive and Kanye exhibits it as he proved a couple nights ago.

  • billy

    “far as kanye goes, i wish he would change his attitude and use his status in a positive way.”

    umm, hes raising money for hurricane victims that you right wingers hate. they are black. you rich white racisits love to call BLACK people racist, when they call you a racist. do you know how bigoted you sound? that is absurd.

    Kanye is a racist, because he called george buah a racist?

    put your kkk hoods back on and go back to a lynching you bigots.

  • gina

    billy, first you took my quote completely out of context and twisted it to your liking. yes, he’s raising money for the victims which, by the way, are not ALL black (as you claim). believe it or not, there are poor whites, too. i didn’t realize i hated raising money for disaster victims or that i owned a kkk hood. those are some pretty hateful words there, billy. perhaps it will surprise you that i **a white** am sending money to a ugandan boy every month for his needs and education. and perhaps it will also surprise you that i am giving money to the hurricane victims… not to the blacks or to the whites. just to the victims. it’s not about color here.

    billy, it would do you well to open your mind and eyes and realize that not ALL whites are racist. i never claimed that ALL blacks are racist. i claimed that kanye is racist… his words on friday night’s fundraiser program proved that. so, if you want people to listen to you and to respect what you have to say, you really shouldn’t talk like that.

  • gina

    i forgot to respond to billy’s statement/question: “kanye is a racist, because he called george bush a racist?” i don’t know where you got that information from… this is what kanye actually said: “bush doesn’t care about black people.” that was only ONE of his ignorant and, yes, racist remarks on friday night. as i said, do you think condoleeza rice and colin powell would agree with kanye? i don’t think so. but, then again, kanye — being the angry, hateful racist that he is — probably has no respect at all for rice and powell or any other black who refuses to succomb to ugly, crippling, white-hating propaganda… who actually go to college and make a good life for themselves. i’ve heard racist blacks accuse these blacks for selling out and “becoming white.” how pathetic is that?! as if an education and a good, respectable job are “white.” help me understand this mentality… because it makes no sense whatsoever. and it perpetuates racism among blacks AND whites.

  • Fuk You

    first off kanyes video for diamons is great, second “Blanton Pierre Hardy” who seems to know all the answers im from brooklyn milford street since then moved out to woodbridge va upper middle class.kanye does indeed talk about his glasses but as you said he has a remix of which he talks about the situation in hte song no contradiction in the song either he fails to mention that the song is a bout ROCAFELLA the rap label whos trademake is to make a diamond sign with your hands and holing it up.”the ROC(rocafella) is still alive everytime i rhyme” ppl please do no let these uneducated to hiphop yuppies mislead you about these issues. diamonds remix kanye goes on to say “over here its a drug trade we die from drugs over there they die from what we buy from drugs”………”how could something so wrong make me feel so right” speeking of not have things to having them and it fulfeeling his need to have diamonds and such. also i might add that this “racist” i have heard him called on here also has 2chains that have diamonds on them a black and a white jesus. now as far as george bush comes this is what the blk community has been thinking for years bush does not care about them!!! and i agree. also poor people in general such as whites, and yess the media has earned a racist title portraying blacks as looters,refugees in there own country, showing on the new the damage of casinos and other wealthy proporties first off, shouldnt they show you the damage of the poor? and the way it effects there lives most of whom dont have any insurance? as far a race card being pull is bull!!!! a white persons biggest frear is being called a racist ive been called one before for something that i did that was indeed racist but i hid behind the “race card”. and if kanye is racist why would he imploy jon brion,adam levine,paul wall,portishead, and several others to help him do this album? ppl need to dig deep and change this accept and change. thx

  • Diane

    kanye west is an idiot he cant talk let alone sing.

  • Sexy

    Why is it when a disaster hits the first thing people due is point fingers? Do people not understand we are all on this planet together? Unless some forien Allen comes down from the sky and kills us all… Guess what people of color (White, Black, Brown and Yellow) are here to stay… as for Kanye he just proves how racist he is…Does he speak for all people of Color (NO) … Now that he makes more money in one minuet. Than others due their hole life, does he’s opinion matters…(NO) Did White people not fight beside Blacks to make this country FREE of course they did… As for American History goes, (it says it in the heading it is History) Let’s not look back, but forward…

  • unity

    I am discusted with Kanye West making $$$$ from catastrophies? does anyone know what his contributions are to sierra leone or to the hurricane victims? I havent heard of one. He is obviously an uneducated Democrat as well. When he opened his mouth about Bush it was purely UN-AMERICAN. only in America can someone who is infact himself a racist,someone who makes profit for himself and makes songs about others misfortunes and still feels compeled to misinforms the public and slander the President, can be a succsess!
    He’s never been to sierra leone,and anyone who doesnt seek the “truth” first should NOT talk at all,especially to a mass audience. He is not about unity! He is helping people go against eachother and fueling the “ignorance fire” We, African Americans have came far or at least I thought until I heard Kanye West open his mouth! thanks for the bad representation!
    whats your next album gonna be named …hmmm let me guess Bush hates minorities…or the rich get their way and poor die”
    check out the truth:

  • Love

    Why? Why? Why? My! My! My! African Americans have been wounded. Why is it that when freedom of speech is excercised, not to the liking of the listener, that we take offense? Why don’t we stop, open our minds and actually listen to what our black brethren are saying. We must all admit that African Americans have been treated as second class citizens. We must ackowledge that the entire country is in need of therapy. The caucasian is taught that he’s superior, generally speaking. ……But, we must heal as a nation, open our minds, put ourselves in the shoes of those that we are so quick to Judge. If Kanye feels that Bush doesn’t like black people, then an acceptable response should be “Why does he feel this way?”
    Before we become offensive wear the shoes of the other…… We must heal as a nation before we can experience any true harmony……

  • Mina

    The video doesn’t say only whites buy diamonds – the lyrics include stuff about black people buying diamonds too. Also look at
    these links:
    and this

    Meanwhile, on the subject of blood diamonds, here’s an interesting article about working against diamonds from another angle – not by raising consciousness as West does, but by making artificial diamonds to compete:

    Also, if you want a mined non-conflict diamond, there are non-DeBeers sources (Argyle Diamond Mines in Australia, Ekati in Canada, the Russian United Syndicate, etc.) which I heard don’t buy from soldiers.

  • b

    A fair assessment of blood diamonds would include the corruption within SL and the cheating and exploitation of the diamond minors. West chose to focus on whites as the root of the evil and not the corrupt system within SL that supports exploitation. The images in this video are racist! Within the same economic strata, blacks are at least as likely as whites to purchase diamonds.

  • Monkey

    I could care less about this guy except that I think it kind of odd he would make a video from the perspective that he did without actually understanding the diamond trade in sierra leone. He took some very awful political problems out of context and made it look as if it were all driven by rich white people. Let me clue you in folks: the leaders in Sierra Leone exploit their own people to mine these diamonds and these leaders are of African origin. Translating American cultural experiences on the race issue is not quite appropriate for talking about the problems in Sierra Leone. The video represents as much about the cultural divide between folks who live in Africa today and Black Americans by making simplistic comparisons. Blaming rich people (white or black) barely scratches the surface of the main problems: dismal poverty in that part of the world and the rival politicians that kill anyone to control sources of income. 99% of diamonds sold in the US are already conflict free and the rest are sold fraudulently claiming they are conflict free so don’t worry too much about purchasing diamonds in fact if you really want to support Africa send the money to an aid agency like Amnesty International instead of buying, you will do 100 times more good that way.

  • Abba Makama

    * distinct . lol