That’s what I like about Jay. He has longevity. He’s still at the top of relevancy from the way he moves, the way he interacts with people, his ability to brush things off of his shoulder and just win at life. He’s the poster child of winning. And I think I was the poster child of, like, fighting and winning. But you always saw the fight. And with Jay, you always saw the win.
– “Kanye West: A Brand New Ye” GQ Magazine August 2014
This song and video is focused on the win. “A million ways to get it. Choose one.” With black and white photography and lots of interplay between light and shadow, it’s fun to watch. In this video, lots of images are interwoven; some repeating, others only appearing once. The images which repeat, and which have more overall screen time, form a visual matrix over which the flashing images provide gems of insight.
Kanye West, for some reason, is the subject of a great deal of sticker-based street art and other cheap dis’s here in Portland. He must be sticking in someone’s craw.
Wandering around southeast neighborhoods you may see a blue-colored sticker with a STARBUCKS logo with Kanye’s face replacing the face of the mermaid-like mascot. There’s one with Kanye looking into a make-up mirror, with a kitten looking back from the mirror, and there’s another showing twin Kanyes at a water cooler with a kitten inside the water cooler. The imagery is reminiscent of the fetuses in the I.V. bottle in Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box video. I’d post photos but my only camera mysteriously disappeared out of the back of a locked car last February. (Quite the string of bad luck I’ve been having, innit? Thefts, sabotage, dancing with police, and my car wrecked by a Volvo with Utah plates and a three-eyed smiley face bumper sticker on the back bumper.)
The intent of the street art seems to be to paint Kanye as some kind of hypocrite.
As I wrote out my POP lexicon, it became clear that multiples of 9 are important, and especially the number 99. Multiples of 9 are unique in that when you add the two numbers of the product, they will add up to 9 (or to another two numbers which when added together, make 9, depending on how big of a number you start with). So there is a sense of confinement in multiples of 9, a sense of always circling back to 9.
Another thing about the number 9 is that it suggests the end of a cycle. After 9, you begin the numeral cycle again. This connects the number 9 with the number 360 (a multiple of 9 and a full circle) and the clock imagery that is so prevalent in pop (especially hip hop) music.
One of the most common numbers to pop up in songs is 99. Like 9, 99 signals the end of a cycle. But 99 is special also because, not only is it doubled (twins), but when you add 9+9 you get 18: the Tarot Moon card. Similarly, a circle represents the “hole” – and is 360 degrees. 3+6=9.
I believe that it is for this reason that 99 is such an important number. I believe that it is a nod to the mythology of the “night club” aka the “27 club” (2+7=9). I believe that when songwriters use the number 99, they are evoking the Moon Card, thereby saying, “we reflect the sun.”
They “hang” and reflect, the sun.
99 in lyrics
99 – Toto – 1979
I remember when this song was on the radio. I was 11 years old when it came out. According to Wikipedia, the song was written for George Lucas’ film THX 1138, a film that “depicts a dystopian future in which the populace is controlled through android police officers and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotion, including sexual desire.”
Wikipedia also says that the budget for this film, THX 1138, was $777,777.77. 8 times 7. 8 means vision and strength.
1999 – Prince – 1982
Can’t find a good video for this, but the lyrics are important. The lyrics suggest that when “2000” comes (number 2 is a sun number), the party is over because we’ll be “out of time.” Prince goes on, “I was dreaming when I wrote this. So sue me if I go too fast.” He mentions having a lion (lyin’ and/or a symbol of royalty) in his pocket, as well. The song ends “Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?”
99 Luftballoons – Nena – 1983
This song was at the top of the pops when I lived in Germany back in 1984. 30 years ago. The scenery in the video – evergreens, mist, and sawmills – is very evocative of Oregon.
Mono – Courtney Love – 2004
I love, love, love this video. And the song too. The video stands out to me because it came out at a time when you didn’t see a lot of women kicking ass and taking names in music videos. Older Hole videos show Courtney more often expressing distress, sadness, maybe rage. The Celebrity Skin album began a transformation away from that chaos and distress to something more powerful. Mono takes it all to a brand new level.
Mono is here because of the line “99 girls in the pit – did it have to come to this?” A pit is a hole, but it is also right up front by the stage, where the dancing can get intense.
99 Problems – Jay-Z – 2004
Another lovely song, the best part being the part is that one time “99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” is swapped for “99 problems but being a bitch ain’t one.”