Kanye West’s relationship with cameras over the years has been fraught. Back in 2008 Ye was arrested for smashing paparazzi cameras at LAX, and he’s rapped about his mixed feelings toward the press a couple of times, claiming to hate them more than the Nazis and issuing a threat—in perpetuity, I assume—to smash their recorders on sight.
A video that pulls double duty for two tracks “All Day” and “I Feel Like That,” was unveiled at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) months ago, and finally found its way online today (for a time, apparently the video leaked and has since been pulled from a few sites, but Jezebel still has it up). Featured prominently is Yeezy dancing around an empty warehouse. Featured subtextually: Kanye’s relationship with the camera.
Steve McQueen directed the video. You may also recognize his name from 2011’s Shame, or from the 2013 Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. According to him, the video is about the gaze and “the gaze following you.” At the beginning of “All Day,” an upbeat romp slash certified banger, the camera is moving around sporadically and Kanye is darting around to keep up with it. But quickly after he captures its full attention, the dynamic shifts, and his movements seem more like an attempt to dodge “the gaze.”
The difference between these two movements played out on screen is subtle, But it’s clear that a change has taken place. A clearer contrast comes when “All Day” bleeds into “I Feel Like That,” a slower number that leans heavily on Ye’s trademark shimmering, autotuned singing voice. Kanye sits slumped against one of the warehouse walls, and the sound of his heavy breathing is played loudly as the first track ends and the second begins. No need to doubt the authenticity of his exhaustion in this scene—the nine-minute video was shot in one take and McQueen instructed Ye to “beat himself up” before they began filming so that he’d look disheveled throughout the film.
As Kanye sings and speaks over the track, the camera slowly backs away from him, ending on a wide shot of the tuckered-out rapper up against a bare wall in between two speakers. “I feel like that/I feel like that/Feel like that all the time,” he sings, before the video starts playing from the beginning again.