Kanye West makes three videos for Jesus Walks

Kanye West has attracted a lot of media attention recently, with his appearance on the front cover of Rolling Stone wearing a crown of thorns in an obvious reference to the Passion of the Christ. In this post I’ll be looking at the three music videos made for Kanye’s third single, “Jesus Walks”, released in 2004.

Chain gang in Kanye West Chris Milk video


Video One

Kanye’s cast in the role of a preacher, preaching in an African American church, accompanied by a choir in robes. As he preaches three down-and-out people are guided by angels to leave their destructive lives behind. An alcoholic living on the streets is protected from the traffic by an angel in a wheelchair. A ‘street worker’ leaves her post and is protected from a lecherous driver by two children as they help her over a fence. A man caught in a drug-related life flees for his life but is pursued and knocked to the ground. A bearded angel helps him up. Eventually all three enter the church and respond to the preaching. In the meantime the angels are being persecuted by people of the street. Each one in turn is transformed into a white dove and flies off. At the end of the video Kanye himself flies off as a dove.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

Video One was directed by Michael Haussman, from Person Films at HSI Productions.

Video Two

The video starts in black and white with white guards overseeing a chain gang of African American prisoners. Kanye sings in a corridor with flames in the background continually threatening to engulf him. A stocky man cuts down a tree to form it into a cross. A group of drug dealers are chased into the desert by police. When they’re stopped the police find bricks of cocaine in the trunk of the car, only to be astounded by the emergence of white doves from the powder. Girls playing jump rope engage with the lyrics. The axeman provides the final scenario as he dresses in a Klu Klux Klan costume and plants his cross on a hill overlooking a city. As he sets it alight the cross falls over and down the hill. He retrieves the cross, carrying it up the hill, catching fire himself. Finally a thunderstorm breaks out, dousing the flames and bringing healing.

Click on the image below to play the second Jesus Walks video in YouTube (HD)

Video Two was directed by Chris Milk, with director of photography Danny Hiele and coorist Dave Hussy.

In an interview with MV Wire Chris Milk explains that he wanted each of the players in his little opera to perform a different part of Kanye’s song. He says:

The message of the song, which becomes the subtext of the video, is that Jesus walks with everyone. Sinner, saint, murderer, drug dealer, it doesn’t matter. So my idea was to take these morally reprehensible characters and carefully weave in Jesus/biblical iconography into their stories signifying God is with them.

The chain gang prisoner assumes the crucifix position when the guard is harassing him. Then the guard stabs him in his ribs with a baton like the Roman soldier did to Jesus. The drug smugglers’ kilos of coke are transformed into doves, a modern miracle. The little girl jump-roping wears leather and wood sandals. The KKK guy is dragging his burning cross up the mountain, as Jesus did in the precursor to his crucifixion.

Kanye is performing in a room which transitions between hellish flames and the angelic halos of fluorescent light tubes on the ceiling. That section dives into the secondary theme of the duality of man. The idea that a person can be simultaneously both good and evil. Or, if you prefer, the more Christlike notion of being both human and divine.

It is God conceivably that blows over the KKK guy’s cross causing it to roll down the mountain. The KKK guy’s hate is so all-consuming that he tries to carry the physical manifestation of his hate back up the mountain for all to see. He is so blinded by that hate that he neglects to take into account the burning robe factor and gets himself into trouble. But God forgives him, and causes it to rain thereby extinguishing him. It’s a baptism of sorts, washing away his sins.

Klu Klux Klan member carries white cross

Video Three

This video was shot in Chicago, entirely in black and white. Jesus (Danny Joe Sorge) rushes out of his room, crown of thorns in hand, to join Kanye as he walks the streets. They pass crosses on buildings, a plastic Jesus on a car dashboard, people gambling with dice, a statue of Mary, a ‘sacred heart’ and a Jesus wall mural.

Jesus and Kanye West look in the fridge

Finally they reach Kanye’s home where there’s nothing in the refrigerator. Jesus touches the fridge and invites Kanye to open it again. It’s full of food. The camera zooms into the ‘Footprints’ poem on the fridge door. Kanye races out to share his food with people in need. Jesus heals a man on crutches. Outside in the yard people are dancing.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

Video Three was directed by Coodie and Chike, who had made their video directing debut with Kanye’s “Through The Wire”. The directors have since joined up with A Band Apart for commercial and video assignments.

Kanye West single Jesus Walks from The College Dropout album on iTunes

Lyrics for Jesus Walks

Intro
Kanye West College Dropout I need to recruit all the soldiers
All of God’s soldiers
We at war
We at war with terrorism, racism, and most of all we at war with ourselves

(Jesus Walks)

God show me the way because the Devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me with me with me with me)

Verse 1
You know what the Midwest is?
Young & Restless
Where restless Niggas might snatch your necklace
And next these Niggas might jack your Lexus
Somebody tell these Niggas who Kanye West is
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death is
Top floor of the view alone will leave you breathless
*Gasping for air*
Try to catch it
*Gasping for air*
It’s kinda hard
Gettin’ choked by detectives yeah yeah now check the method
They be asking us questions, harass and arrest us
Saying “we eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.
“Huh? Yall eat pieces of shit what’s the basis?
We ain’t goin’ nowhere but got suits and cases
A trunk full of coke rental car from Avis
My momma used to say only Jesus can save us
Well momma I know I act a fool
But I’ll be gone till November
I got packs to move I Hope

Chorus
(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the Devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don’t think there’s nothing I can do to right my wrong
(Jesus Walks with me)
I wanna talk to God but I’m afraid cause we ain’t spoke in so long
(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the Devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don’t think there’s nothing I can do to right my wrong
(Jesus Walks)
I wanna to talk to God but I’m afraid cause we ain’t spoke in so long
(Jesus Walks with me with me with me)

Verse 2
To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks with them)
To the victims of welfare feel we living in hell here, hell yea
(Jesus walks with them)
Now hear Ye hear Ye wanna see Thee more clearly
I know He hear me when my feet get weary
Cause we’re the almost nearly extinct
We rappers are role models we rap we don’t think
I ain’t here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I’m just tryin to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathy Lee needed Regis that’s the way I need Jesus
So here go my single dawg radio needs this
They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played huh
Well if this take away my from spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope it take away from sins
And bring the day that I’m dreamin about
Next time I’m in the club everybody screamin out

Chorus 2
(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don’t think there’s nothing I can do to right my wrong
(Jesus Walks with me with me with me with me)
[Fades]
I wanna talk to God but I’m afraid cause we ain’t spoke in so long …

Kanye West Rolling Stone CoverIn 2005 ‘Jesus Walks’ was awarded the Grammy for the best Rap Song. The album, ‘The College Dropout’ was named album of the year by The New York Times, Time Magazine, Blender, Rolling Stone, GQ, Spin, The Source, and XXL. The video was awarded Best Male Video at the 2005 22nd MTV Video Music Awards.

‘Jesus Walks’ was co-written with rapper Rhymefest and was inspired by the ARC Choir (Addicts Rehabilitation Center) track, “Walk With Me”. In fact it includes a sample of the choir.

“Jesus Walks” was prominently featured in trailers and commercials for the 2005 film Jarhead.

  • EliiShaa.xo*

    OMFG ii love thaat song except forthe ni**a paart….lol but yea ii gota go so byee