WHAT: The video for “Wolves,” the emotional centerpiece of Kanye’s sprawling, complicated 2016 album The Life of Pablo, which doubles as a Balmain ad.
WHO: Kanye stars in the video alongside collaborators Sia and Vic Mensa, and a host of models–the most famous among them being Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, Cindy Crawford, and Joan Smalls–dressed in their Balmain best. Madonna and Lady Gaga collaborator (and fashion photographer) Steven Klein directs, while Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing holds the same title on the film.
WHY WE CARE: Kanye declared that that The Life of Pablo wouldn’t just be the best album of the year, it’d be the best album of the life. Even if it doesn’t quite hit that lofty standard, the wildly uneven collection sounds like an effective document of the diffuse emotional state that the rapper seemed to reveal via his public statements and Twitter account earlier this year, which makes it absolutely essential listening for anyone trying to better understand the cultural force that is Kanye West. Since then, our understanding of how complicated and weird it is to live in Kanye’s head has only been enhanced by the bizarre, wax sculpture-laden video for Famous, which left us wondering what exactly to expect from our next glimpse into Kanye’s mind. The result is a lot more conventional–at least for Kanye–in that it’s full of high-contrast, two-tone photography of beautiful people in ornate, complicated clothing, moving their bodies deliberately with intense looks on their faces and tears streaming from their eyes. Kanye is the sort of artist it’s impossible not to read deeply into, even when his work is more about the atmosphere than it is a specific message, which means that we’re paying attention to any statement he makes.