Kanye West has had a journey. He started out as an unknown producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, and was responsible for some of the most recognizable beats of the early 2000’s. He broke out with his debut album,The College Dropout, in 2003. From there, he’s become one of the greatest artists in hip-hop history, taking the genre to places it’s never been before. He’s also slowly morphed into one of the most controversial figures in the entertainment world, and has started so far from his original image that looking back at his early music is like looking at a different person. “The New Workout Plan” is the fifth single off that debut album, and is a snapshot of the man Yeezy used to be.
Some of Kanye’s trainees wear chucks in this music video.
The song, as with all the other tracks on The College Dropout, has some standout production from Kanye. It has a throwback sound, but uses no samples and is an original Yeezy beat. Lyrically, it takes a similar satirical approach to other tracks on The College Dropout. The song satirizes the impossible standards women’s beauty is held to by crafting a “new workout plan” that will get women fit and rich. This also is similar to West’s later hit “Gold Digger” which aims to deconstruct the idea that women, especially those with wealthy men, are only interested in money. This was Kanye at his most lyrical and wittiest, and when many say they miss the old Kanye, this is the musician they’re talking about.
Ala-Wishous Simmons shows the girls how to step in time.
The music video opens with three women talking about this brand new workout plan one of them is on. The song then kicks in as the video shifts to an infomercial-style showing of Kanye’s new workout plan that’s now available for purchase on VHS. Kanye appears on screen, flanked by Anna Nicole-Smith, and a man named Ala-Wishous Simmons (played by comedian Alex Thomas). We then see the group of women West is working out and training. They’re all dressed to sweat and “workout”, and a few can be seen wearing chucks as they sprint through his obstacle courses. The video also features cameo appearances from John Legend, Miri Ben-Ari, Fonzworth Bentley, Tracee Ellis Ross, Vida Guerra, and GLC. Kanye’s Mascot Bear shows up as well, and the video ends with the workout ending and it working out for all who joined. It’s a fun video, and shows how witty Kanye used to be before he took himself far too seriously as an artist.
Hands up to touch down.
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