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See no Evel 

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Redemption is a dish best served cold -- ice cold when it comes to hip-hop.

And so it's advantage Kanye West in the current kulturkampf, as the release of his "Touch the Sky" video perfectly coincides with the Associated Press' recent release of footage showing former FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown thoroughly briefing President Bush days before Hurricane Katrina hit last year. The dovetailing of the two videos propels an unspoken parable into the American mind-set -- children, mind your Kanye.

West shocked the nation last year with his emotional declaration that "George Bush does not care about black people." In the video, he's "Evel Kanyevel," daredevil extraordinaire. And though jumping canyons and/or sharks went out of style over a quarter century ago, Kanye's real-life escapade shows that there are still daredevils among us.

As video Kanyevel prepares to jump the Grand Canyon, he faces down the skepticism of TV color commentators, the hyped exuberance of his fans and his overwrought lover (Pamela Anderson Lee). It's his own imagistic take on the vagaries and contradictions he faces as a rock star-turned-spokesmodel for multicolored public outrage. West was, of course, taken to task in the media for making a statement that was, well, kinda hard core -- but then so is jumping over the Grand Canyon in a one-man rocket. Being Kanyevel is a dangerous job, but somebody has to do it.

With a light reference to his earlier "leave your ass for a white girl" rhyme from "Golddigger" thrown in for good measure, Kanyevel's choice between the sistahs (Nia Long and Tracee Ellis Ross) and his blonde trophy illustrates just how tough it can be to choose between more than one good thing. It also reveals the inherent tug at the loyalties of a star whose success is steeped in black music, but who has become the white knight of the music industry.

In the video's finale, as an undaunted Kanyevel careens over the canyon in defiance of his critics, his rocket's exhaust billows white on the way up and then turns black as he crash lands. That's all West needs you to see: For a daredevil in the unending rhetorical grudge match over racial injustice, it's prime time on a high wire. And the man who testifies has to fly without fear of touching or falling from the sky.

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