Words by Jeffrey Preis
Kanye West’s sixth studio album, Yeezus, had an immense amount of collaborators; sixty seven of them to be exact. How many of these big names (Justin Vernon, Daft Punk, Mike Dean, Kid Cudi, Rick Rubin, John Legend) appeared on stage with him at the Yeezus tour? Not surprisingly, none.
A show for Kanye West is a little different from a show for any other rapper/artist/musician. Thursday night’s show in the New Orleans arena proved no differently. All of the nearly sold-out crowd became detached from reality and entered into a World of Kanye for the night. The self-proclaimed “creative genius” lived up to his name and transformed the arena into a Biblical inspired, Mount Sinai-esque set. And just who joined him on stage aside from his scantily clad, nymph-like, avant-garde female background dancers and one monster/demon? Jesus Christ. Whom he fist bumped.
The entire show was broken up into five acts, each preluded by a verb to introduce the impending set. Fighting, Rising, Falling, Searching, and Finding appeared on the large screen above the mountainous stage before each, and contained a message such as “The bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” The idea: to educate the patrons; to make Yeezus more than just an album, and the night more than a performance.
West began the show with the first song of the album, “On Sight”. Twenty eight songs were performed during the show, including all ten off of Yeezus. The whole night was on ode to his most recent album, which he has previously said was not to be an album of hits. In fact, he stripped the album down before releasing it, invoking minimalism as justification for greatness. “New Slaves” and “Send it Up” came after the opening track, and there was no lack of energy or enthusiasm as Kanye poured his heart out on the stage. The first act concluded with “Mercy,” the only non-Yeezy track thus far.
That minimalism from his album did not play a part on stage, though. Although not an album of hits, the album and tour came together as a beautiful work of art, and not just a highfalutin hit machine with über loud bass and bright lights. The second act (Rising) had a total of eight songs, and three of his most self-righteous, power crazed songs—namely “Power,” “Black Skinhead” and “I Am a God.” The highlight of the night came during “I am a God.” Before the song, the eleven female dancers appeared on stage in nude colored body suits and faces covered. They rose ‘Ye above their heads as he appeared to be levitating and placed back on the ground before he climbed the stage towards the audience which began to rise like the peak of a mountain. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” started as the mountain peak rose from the ground.
Surprisingly, there was only one long Kanye rant -— twenty minutes worth —- which a lot of people chose to use as a bathroom break. It came during the middle of “Runaway,” which shouldn’t come as a surprise since the music video is over thirty minutes long. The rant was perfectly paired with an autotune speaking voice, another Kanye-ism, if you will. He used a call-and-response with his audience during this song, and also with “New Slaves” (“But I rather be a dick than a swallower.”) After he finished “Runaway,” he jumped right into the up-beat, Daft Punk featured “Stronger” which got most of the audience back out of their seats. This act, as some have guessed, was the act titled “Searching.”
The encore, or “Finding” act, was the strongest and most personal, a large part of this due to the fact that it was the first time we were able to see Kanye. That’s right, Kanye did not reveal his face for the first hour and a half. He adorned a bejeweled mask the entirety of the show (making many patrons question whether it was Kanye or a similarly built man the whole time). The mask only came off once the mountain parted and Jesus walked out. The almighty Father removed the mask from a prostrate Kanye. As Jesus returned into the mountain, Kanye revealed himself and the familiar, triumphant sounds of “Jesus Walks” filled the arena. Many wondered what the implication was behind the mask, and why he only performed at the very end maskless, but it’s Kanye, and it served a purpose, possibly to hide under all the emotion, the pain from which he rapped, or possibly it was for pure aesthetic.
The final act contained two of the most unlikely songs from the twenty eight song set, “Flashing Lights” and “All of the Lights.” But after seeing Yeezy on stage assisted by no one (except the females—which at one point became a throne of women for Kanye to sit upon—and Jesus Christ), it made sense. The stage was immense, immaculate, and perfect; and it was aided by the flashing lights and beautiful display which cast ‘Ye as the idol of the night. The show ended with, you guessed it, “Bound 2.” Everyone waited for a bodacious figure on motorcycle to appear on stage, but to the dismay of many, it never happened. For the first time, the screen above the mountain appeared with a divinely lit sky.
The five act, twenty eight song epic, proved the creative ingenuity which Kanye constantly boasts about is not just an act. Every detail was choreographed perfectly; perfection is what he strove for, and perfection is what he got. The whole time, Kanye stayed true to himself. Under his bejeweled mask there was a specimen of humanity…a lover, a dreamer, and an artist.