Yes, Kanye West can be obnoxious. Yes, he can be annoying. But you are in serious denial if you don’t admit that he is one of the most talented, creative and fearless artists in current hip-hop. You know how most artists taste a little success and water their down sound to achieve more of it? Kanye’s done the opposite, as his sound has developed significantly from the familiar sped-up soul samples that created the sound behind 2004’s “The College Dropout”.

So of course, his latest single, “Champion” uses a sped-up sample, right? Taking a fair chunk of Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” (and crediting Donald Fagen & Walter Becker as the sole composers of “Champion”), the song works the familiar inspirational vibe that you’re already familiar with from songs like “Touch the Sky”. It’s actually one of the more average songs on the fairly excellent “Graduation” LP.

However, this video is a riot. Featuring a puppet version of Kanye racing in the Olympics, it’s topically current and inventive enough that it would be enjoyable even if we weren’t right in the middle of the 2008 ceremonies. As obnoxious and self-righteous as many folks take Kanye for, you’ve gotta give the guy props for at least being able to laugh at himself, something you don’t see too much of in modern-day hip hop. This is one of those videos that makes me enjoy the song even more.