As the world awaits “Cruel Summer," the collaborative album/short film feature from Kanye West’s record label G.O.O.D (Getting Out Our Dreams), their latest music video “Mercy” offers some insight as to what audiences can expect. Directed by Nabil Elderkin, a longtime friend and collaborator of West’s, “Mercy’s” visual accompaniment is an ode to minimalist art. From the horizontal stripes and steps that run the length of the Qatar parking lot to the negative space angles created by each posed rapper---this is an anti-rap video. It gives audiences a glimpse of what's been inspiring Kanye West as of late (middle-eastern culture), while eschewing the ennui rap motifs of bouncing cars, video hoes, and flying money. The monochromatic color scheme and wide frame transforms the otherwise ordinary space into a minimalist work of art worthy of the MoMA.
The video begins with a tight snare and hollow bass rhythm as the camera slowly pans the length of the space where we see rappers Big Sean, Pusha T, Kanye West, and 2 Chainz scattered throughout the lot regaled chic denim and leather. A Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 hangs modestly in the back symbolizing the crew’s majesty and dominance over the material world. As the video plays on we notice the rapper's doubling bodies. A cool but simple stunt as far a video editing goes, though in typical Kanye West fashion the effect makes G.O.O.D supernatural. At one point in the video Big Sean says “swerve” and the camera shot slides in the direction of his gesture, demonstrating the scope of his power. During the chorus we see cameos by Kid Cudi, hip-moshing in the background along with the seductive Teyana Taylor, both are also signed to G.O.O.D. The third verse is Kanye’s. The beat morphs into an ominous synth tone that frames West as the alpha. His lyrical delivery is fittingly minimal, consisting of statement after statement delivered assertively and metaphors that reference Salvador Dali and the club drug "molly" all the while he climbs in and out of himself a la Neo (Matrix reference). Overall the video is another affirmation of Kanye West’s constantly progressive artistic genius and he once again leaves the state of rap having to catch-up. As a prelude to “Cruel Summer” this video is perfect, a potent package of rap intensity and talent, alongside superb film production and artistic vision.