We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the street, listening to some loud music, when all of a sudden, you hear the beat and you can’t help but dance. It might be the most infectious song you’ve ever heard. You don’t even need to have known the person who sang it; all you need is that beat. And that’s exactly what happened to Robert Pattinson when he heard Kanye West’s “Clarity” in the studio.
The Twilight actor, who is featured on the album, premiered the song on his Instagram Live on October 11. The 51-year-old singer uploaded the video a day earlier, with the caption, “Unauthorized video premiere of the new album by @kanyewest #clarity.”
In the video, you can see a beaming Robert, who, in his own words, is “over the moon” to be playing a part in such a monumental album. “What a privilege and an honor,” he wrote on Instagram. “Never thought I’d get to do this. Thanks @kanyewest for believing in me.”
“Clarity” was released on September 28 and debuted at number two on the Billboard Top Albums chart. It’s Kanye’s seventh studio album, and the producer/rapper’s second collection of songs since his debut album, 2001’s The Album.
The title track, which has been called the “anthem” of the album, was released to radio stations a week ahead of the album.
The music video for “Clarity,” which you can see above, was directed by Floria Sigismondi and features a handful of well-known faces. The video opens with a black hole blocking out the sun. The camera slowly pans to the right to reveal a group of people dressed in white dancing in front of the camera. It’s not long before a sea of people are dancing and playing instruments in the street. There are even some kids throwing their fists in the air as they dance. The video then cuts to show off the costumes and jewelry — all white. For some, this will be a hint that the video is about to change gear and go into a different direction. That’s because, for the second half of the video, the camera cuts to black-and-white hues and shows the people in a more traditional Halloween setting. There’s even a dash of color in the form of a red bandana worn by one of the characters. And during the bridge of the song, the bandana’s color finally bursts through in a glorious display of crimson.
The song starts out slow and moody, with Kanye mumbling about his ex-girlfriend/mother of his child, Olivia Culpo. According to Billboard, the song was written after the pair broke up in 2016. In it, he questions whether she will love him again after he confessed that he cheated on her. At one point in the song, he sings, “Every time I think about us, it hurts / Is she even looking at my messages?”
The beat then drops, and the horns and strings come in. “Clarity” is an energetic track that asks whether you’re ‘fucking crazy or just tired’ of living a bad life. The song is full of references to various celebrities and figures, such as Bill Cosby, Charlie Rose, and Taylor Swift. In it, Kanye raps, “You need to let it go, let it go, let it go / You need to let it go, let it go, let it go / You need to let it go, let it go, let it go / You need to let it go, let it go, let it go.”
One of the highlights of the album is ‘One Of The Best,’ a song that blends spoken word with catchy piano hooks and an infectious beat. On the track, Kanye praises his significant other, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, and her wealth. ‘One Of The Best’ also features a guest appearance from British singer Stormzy, who raps the line “I’m glad I ain’t got kids / I’d be a terrible parent / I don’t even have a dog.”
“Clarity” won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Music Video at the 2019 Grammy Awards. In total, the album was nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning three.
The Grammy Awards are scheduled to take place on February 14, 2020. If you’d like to be among the first to know when the winners are announced, then continue reading.
The Album’s Artwork & Videos
The cover art for ‘Clarity’ is a mixture of black-and-white and neon elements, and it was designed by British artist Stormzy. The 26-year-old rapper is also responsible for the album’s unique typeface, which was inspired by the cursive handwriting seen on invitations to tea parties in the 1960s and 1970s. On the back cover of the album, you’ll notice a subtle ‘T’ symbol, which stands for Taylor. The artwork also includes a portrait of Taylor, looking every bit the 1950s housewife she sometimes plays on Twitter.
The first video released for ‘Clarity’ is titled ‘Apollo.’ In it, you’ll see a sea of people dressed in white, inspired by the cover of the album, dancing and playing various instruments. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, ‘Apollo’ also stars Taylor’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ colleague and impressionist, Andy Samberg. He portrays a fictionalized version of himself as a college student who has a talent for impressions. When Samberg sees Taylor, he tries to engage in an act of comedic impressionism, but he can’t match her perfect comedic timing.
Behind The Scenes
In a recent Reddit AMA, Kanye West talked about working with his new label, Universal, and how the album came together.
“Clarity” was a really fun project to be a part of because we got to work with new people and try new things,” he said. “I’ve always said that one of the things that makes me unique as an artist is that I’m always willing to experiment and try new things. And that definitely showed in this album. We had fun with the creative process and I hope people have fun listening to the results.”
In a video interview with Billboard, singer-songwriter Troye Sivan said that for him, ‘Clarity’ is a song about self-love. “Musically, it’s one of my favorite songs on the album,” he said. “I really admire how Kanye used the space in the song. It’s very dynamic, and there are so many ideas that he incorporated into it.”
Sivan, who collaborated with Drake on the song “Bloom,” said that he feels most connected to the album’s first single, “Apollo.” “It’s a really great song. I think it’s going to be a timeless classic,” he said. “A lot of people told me that they connected with it right away when they heard it.”
West started thinking about ‘Clarity’ in 2015, the same year he got divorced from Taylor. In an interview with GQ, the producer/rapper said that he began working on the album after deciding that he needed to change the way he was living. “I just want[ed] to make sure that every song sounded different from the last,” he said. “And also, I have an idea for an album, and it’s the most unique album that I’ve ever made. I want to make sure that every song is memorable.”
In a previous interview with Billboard, West said that ‘Clarity’ is about believing in yourself. “I want to encourage people to be the best version of themselves that they can be,” he said. “I think that’s why, in many ways, this album is so positive. I feel like a lot of people can relate to it because it’s about believing in yourself. Even if you’re not sure of what your beliefs are, you can relate to this album.”
The Future Of Kanye West
‘Clarity’ marks the first album that Kanye West has released since Taylor Swift famously accused him of misogyny and homophobia. While some assumed that the two would reconcile after his defense during the Grammy awards, it seems like their troubles are only growing. Not only did he fail to address Taylor’s concerns during the Grammys, but now he’s refusing to talk about her. Even his supporters are worried about his seemingly obsessive behavior.