This years MTV VMA's had Kanye West open the show with one of his usually interesting speeches and then an absolutely epic video for "Fade" (from "The Life Of Pablo") starring the uber talented Teyana Taylor. The surprise visual left the world wandering who the gorgeous dancer in the video was (people are slacking cus they've been sleeping on Teyana!) and the rest of us who were already familiar with her, sat sitting in awe, but who put this sexual-feline-danced filled video together? A 24 year old from California, that's who. Meet Eli Russell Linnetz.
At the young age of 15 Eli assisted famed author, screen writer and film director David Mamet, notorious for Hannibal (2001) and The Untouchables (1987). Then, a couple years later at 17 after a friend of Eli's contacted Kanye in the early stages of DONDA's conception, he was brought in to work at Kanye's creative company to work on some writing projects. Eli has since used his skills gained through his assistant work and screenwriting studies at U.S.C to guide him through his new found "one-year artist residency with Kanye".
Since he's been a part of Kanye's creative company, Eli Linnetz has worked with Ye on several projects including his "Famous" art exhibition, displaying the life-like models resembling Trump, Rihanna and Ray J amongst others, lying side by side. Eli was then given huge creative control for the "Fade" visual after conceptual instructions from Kanye about circulating the video around Teyana, Iman Shupert and their new-born daughter. Eli spoke to the New York Times regarding the obvious Flashdance resemblance but also his other inspirations which range from "the Ohio Players’ album covers [...] Grace Jones boxing images by Jean-Paul Goude [...] ’70s and ’80s porn, just on Pornhub. That was less about the imagery and more about the texture of the skin, the oiliness." Understanding the inspiration and piecing together the references from the video brings it to a whole new level of interesting. Eli's visionary talents at such a young age are inspiring.
Photography sourced from @elirusselllinnetz
As for the much discussed cat face at the end of the video, Eli told the New York Times "Kanye and I had worked a lot with prosthetics, with people who work for Rick Baker, who did some of the most famous effects of our time. We had worked with those people on “Famous,” so we wanted to continue that language in a new way. The last image is foreshadowing bigger things to come, which you guys will find out about soon enough." Leaving us to speculate as to whatever else Kanye has up his sleeve, but if it involves revealing more talents like Eli and Teyana, then we'll be at the edge of our seats till it arrives. The "Fade" video is exclusive to Tidal so you can watch it there if you've not already seen the art piece.
If that's not enough you can watch Eli's 2014 first short film "Afterglow" here. The tones in imagery are amazing. We can't wait to see what unfolds in the future for Eli.