Dating back to his self-funded video for “Through The Wire,” which functioned as a visually dazzling scrapbook of his entire life up to that point, Kanye West has been just as ambitious with his visuals as with his impeccable albums. Even as his career paralleled the rise of YouTube and the end of labels spending millions on epic videos for MTV rotation, West continued to spare no expense, repeatedly doing things like flying to Prague to shoot “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” and creating the half hour short film “Runaway.”
West has often turned to some of the most acclaimed video directors of all time, including Spike Jonze, Hype Williams, and Michel Gondry, to help him make his magic. But he’s also self-directed a few of his most memorable clips, and formed fruitful collaborative relationships with other directors like Chris Milk and Nick Knight. He takes risks, too; he worked with buzzing newcomers like Nabil Elderkin and French duo Jonas & Francois on their way up. He even brought artists who didn’t traditionally make music videos, like Japanese pop art icon Takashi Murakami and fashion photographer Steven Klein, into a new realm.
In the same way that he samples records and takes inspiration from music outside of hip-hop, West’s videos are rich with references and influences from every visual medium. From the pin-up model aesthetic of “Gold Digger” to the rotoscope animation of “Heartless,” from the datamoshed pixels of “Welcome to Heartbreak” to the Enter the Void-style titles of “All of the Lights,” Kanye West has danced and rapped his way through an amazing variety of real and virtual environments. In honor of his 41st birthday, we're ranking all 43 of Kanye West’s music videos.