Music Video Analysis
“Homecoming” – Kanye West
The music video I have chosen to analyse is “Homecoming” by Kanye West released on April 1st 2008
- a song of the hip hop genre with a video that is made in a performance style. The song itself is a
tribute to the artists’ hometown Chicago; Kanye claims to feel guilt for abandoning the city to pursue
his rap career. To analyse this video, I used Lacey’s Repertoire of Elements; Character, Narrative
Events, Iconography, Setting and Technical and Audio Codes.
The main character in the video is Kanye West himself – he is portrayed as a stereotypical hip hop
rap artists; baggy slightly over sided trousers, a plaid shirt, big body warmer and he is also shown
wearing a balaclava in some shots giving a rough edge to his persona. His simple clothes make him
look rather common and suggest that he fits in back in his hometown Chicago. At one point in the
video, he is seen wearing a large expensive necklace – this further expresses his new hip hop lifestyle
as large luxurious jewellery is often seen on rappers to show their wealth. His body language such as
standing with his hands in his pockets and his serious facial expressions portrays him as a stern man,
suggesting a rough upbringing, spending a lot of time on the streets of Chicago and having to act
tough. The location of Chicago is iconic to the genre of hip-hip as it is a location where many rappers
originate from, referring to the city as ‘Chi Town’ in their song.
The characters within the music video appear to be mainly African Americans. The director may have
chosen to do this to relate to the artist, Kanye, who is greatly proud of his African American decent
as he expressed in his songs. African American people from Chicago may feature frequently
throughout this video as artist Kanye West sees them as his family from his hometown where he
grew up, showing the audience the artists’ community.
Chris Martin, who is the lead singer of Coldplay, features within the song singing the chorus as well
as playing the piano. He is shown throughout the video, but never fully focused on. He is shown
merely as silhouettes and just his hands – suggesting that the focus shouldn’t be on him but on the
other features of the video.
The video is set in the artists’ home town Chicago, Illinois, relating well to the title of the song. To
establish the setting, the direct has used clips of iconic buildings and places within Chicago such as
The Bean and DuSable Museum of African American History. Panning clips of the Chicago skyline are
also used at the beginning of the video to further set the scene.
The director has also shot clips of Kanye walking the streets of Chicago and clips off the community,
showing another often hidden side, as people usually just associate Chicago with the city and tall
buildings within. Clips of Chris Martin appear towards the end, often in a silhouette style. This may
have been done to keep the attention on the main artist, Kanye, as appose to the featured artist. He
is shown at one point as a dark, silhouette-like figure with fireworks exploding in the background –
these match the lyrics of the songs as it sings “fireworks at Lake Michigan” another famous landmark
featured on the edge of Illinois.
A montage edit is used throughout the video, piecing together quick takes of both iconic footage of
Chicago landmarks, the streets of Chicago and clips of Kanye West himself performing the song. This
type of edit helps the performance style of the video and also keep the video rather fast paced
which matches the fast beat of the song.
Within the mise en scene, the setting is made obvious with the different locations and iconography.
The video also features interesting mirror techniques, using the mirrored float that the artist is stood
on which is shown all the way through the video, as well as using the mirrored surface of The Bean
to capture interesting angles of the tall buildings of Chicago. These creative techniques help to make
the video more interesting and help to keep the audience’s attention. The performance style is
emphasised with clips of Chris Martin playing the piano, featured throughout the whole video. The
piano is also used as a form of reflectivity towards the end, where the black piano reflects the
fireworks - this relates back to the interesting angles point.
The whole music video has been make in black and white – this suggests that the director wants the
audience to focus on what is been shown within the video (maybe the location) as opposed to being
distracted by the colours. The video also features a lot of fast takes within the beginning to establish
the Chicago setting and to capture the audiences’ attention. Mostly natural lighting is used as most
of the footage is taken outside. However, towards the end of the video where the clip focuses on
Chris Martin, the fireworks act as a back light. This technique appears rather effective as it keeps the
shots simple and doesn’t draw too much attention to the featured artist.
Upwards angle shots are used throughout the video, mainly on clips of the artist. These may have
been used to emphasise the main focus being on Kanye, as well as suggesting that he is superior and
should be looked up at. These upwards angles also help to establish the setting by enabling to
capture great shots of the buildings behind the artist, as well as in the reflective surfaces used within
the video. Various clips within the video have been edited to show a silhouette of either Kanye or
Chris Martin, and showing clips of the setting within their silhouette. This is an interesting technique
used, which enables the setting to be set whilst also focusing on the performance style of the video.