"Touch the Sky" is the fourth single released from Kanye West's second album, Late Registration. It was released in early 2006. The video is directed by Chris Milk who previously worked on West's award-winning "Jesus Walks" and the video for "All Falls Down".
The song was produced by Just Blaze and is the only song on Late Registration not produced by West himself. Blaze uses a noticeably slowed down sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up". It also features Lupe Fiasco.
The music video
is made as a 70s style short movie about Evel Kanyevel (an obvious parody of Evel Knievel
played by West), and his attempt to fly a small rocket across the Snake River Canyon
. The video also features Pamela Anderson
, Nia Long
, Tracee Ellis Ross
, and the Booker T. Washington High School Marching Band of Houston, Texas
, which performs with Fiasco at a pep rally
. At the end of the video, West fails in landing the rocket and crashes into the canyon, and after the ship has exploded, a scene with West dancing in the clouds is shown, having finally "touched the sky".
In the first verse of the song, West references the same subject of his massive hit "Through the Wire": "I think I died in that accident 'cause this must be heaven". This quote was also Jay-Z's favorite line from West. Midway through the video, the music is interrupted as Evel Kanyevel is interviewed by a Howard Cosell-type newscaster, who asks him about what effects his comments on President Richard Nixon will have on his career (an oblique reference to West's own comments on President George W. Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina). The interview is itself interrupted by Nia Long (as Kanyevel's ex-girlfriend) supported by Tracee Ellis Ross. During the altercation that follows, Ross tells her friend, in a reference to West's "Gold Digger", "that's right, girl, I told you, when he get on, he gonna leave yo' ass for a white girl".
In 2006, Evel Knievel
filed a lawsuit against Kanye West
for trademark infringement
Specifically, Knievel's lawsuit cites the similarities between West's star-adorned, blue and white costume in the video and the costume in which the stuntman wore when attempting his 1974 Snake River Canyon
jump. Evel eventually settled the suit with Kanye in November 2007, days before Knievel's death.
- Written by Kanye West, Justin Smith, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (Lupe Fiasco) and Curtis Mayfield
- Produced by Just Blaze for F.O.B. Entertainment/N.O.C. Management, LLC and Hip Hop Since 1978
- Recorded by Anthony Kilhoffer at The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA and Andrew Dawson at Chalice Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
- Mixed by Mike Dean for Dean's List Productions at Chalice Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
- Assistant Engineers: Richard Reitz, Matt Green, Nate Connely and Mike Mo
- Lupe Fiasco appears courtesy of Atlantic Records/1st and 15th Productions, Inc.
- "Touch the Sky" contains samples from the Curtis Mayfield recording "Move on Up," produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing. Written by Curtis Mayfield, published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI). All rights reserved.
- Assistant (technology):Henry Ho,Andy Chu,Andy Ma and Jordan Katrib