July 06, 2014


It's 3am and me and Kanye are seated at a round table in a Penthouse in New York - to the right of me, is a large window, showcasing the manmade night glitter of Manhattan - and we talk. We discuss our latest ventures and the frustration that comes with deciding where to invest the thousands that will be millions and we debate exchanging lawers - maybe for a financial year, maybe for 6 months, in between insisting that our team of lawyers, creative directors, assistants etc, are "better than yours".

I am, in fact, seated on an Eastbound train platform at Holborn. A few hundred thousand people diverted my originally planned route and so I am here. This place would usually be packed and all the while silent with commuters accepting that the journey they all have to make would be best made with only the hum of the speeding train. Instead, at this moment, there aren't even quite murmurs but chatter: the type of chatter that mangles into one strong wave of just noise.

I have just had the pleasure of experiencing Kanye West in concert. The type of concert that is highly anticipated by fans and enemies alike and is then reported in the most prestigious of papers, listed under the topic of 'celebrity'.

As you would expect from a creative genius, the lighting is spectacular with huge screens being manipulated to contribute to the Kanye West Demi-God illusion. I'm finding myself shuffling between bodies to catch this centre screen, while the non-existent spotlight is contributing to the seemingly important importance of anonymity Kanye wishes to convey - "fuck my face *laughs* that sounded wrong" he later joked.

Beneath the buzz of anticipation was the melody of classic rock songs "has he lost his mind, can he see or is he blind?". And then he show begins with a clear flush of red, like a demonic haze faintly blurred by wafts of coloured smoke and dancing lights that put together the visual feast. Meanwhile Kanye, masked and camo'd enjoys his place among his 3-man band and a medley of tech gear.

In all honesty, I too was filled with the same buzz in the air, finding myself gasping for air to regulate my quickening heartbeat as black skinhead set the tone. The ideal tone for a Kanye West show. The type of show that 100,000 people come to see after one of the most ingenious produces releases the most alternative-hip-hop album of the genre history.

I bubble inside, yell the lyrics and jump, within the first few minutes I'm croaking, perfect. But this flow was quickly broken. Namely, by the brevity of the Yeezus era of West's music and the emphasis on older songs - Jesus Walks, Touch the Sky, Runaway. As I expected, the passion on stage simmered through the audience who were happy to put their hands up or down as and when requested or spiritually urged to. But this shared sentiment didn't last long when the musical flow was broken by one of Kanye's rants. I was excited to be sharing this legendary experience, so zealously shared and documented in the world of the internet that it only seemed right that I would feel like screaming "yes Lord" after each melodic pause in his passionate tone. The second rant didn't stir up quite the same love as the first with boos and chants of encouragement following each other like a spiritual warfare. But after 9 minutes, everyone shared that 'hurry up and perform' sentiment and it couldn't be saved by the dissonant tones of Runaway that underscored his soapbox moment. 

It's like the words that fall from Kanye's mouth fall like cinders of burning paper. A meaningful, well-written letter, obliterated for nothing, falling on deaf ears, each scrap losing it's weight and worth as it departs from the source.

There was no fire or fireworks at the end. Kanye simply sung Blood on The Leaves, twice and then left. During the first attempt at the song, Kanye made a point of directing a subtle fuck you at the event organisers who had at the time said he has to "get out of here". I didn't care to consider Kanye's obedience as a testament to his contradictory nature, but I considered carefully the importance of publicity and this carefully crafted media that I find so unnerving. Almost as if in an attempt to continue this reign of terror or dark knight media image, West took the time to once more mention the Yeezy's, the Louis Vuitton, the Celebrity Collaboration which forced me to ask the question, why.

Every one of the hundreds of thousands, gathered at Finsbury Park, would, if they had the millions Kanye has from celebrity endorsements and one hour festival set lists, have flown to America in their private jet to witness the Yeezus experience in full, in the comfort of a chair and without the other shuffling tramps in the crowd, the type of people that think it's okay to squat and urinate in the middle of a festival - no lie this happened, thrice. I say all this to emphasise that we're not on his level. His long monologues although insightful and a great contribution to his media image, are irrelevant to any normal individual who doesn't have a private yacht or multiple homes or a curvaceous exotic reality TV star as their wife... It's irrelevant. At first, it's encouraging, "believe in yourself", but Kanye just wanting "to be awesome" has nothing to do with anyone else, especially those who, judging by his year of weightless rants about forthcoming elusive product, have more or less given up on West's potential to produce the goods and to get rid of these glass ceilings that the rest of us are still crumbling under.

The rain came falling down as if summoned by the waterfall visuals on the screen, somehow not yet out of breath Kanye throws "these Maybach keys", a wave of thousands of hands bouncing simultaneously appearing on screen briefly in an inverted colour format, West takes a breathing second and his crowd continue to chant the lyrics, even if out of sync with his band. It was awesome and an experience everyone should share.

"This is what we do in rehearsal guys", Kanye says while saying the front camera "looks way cooler" and it's plain to see how much thought has gone into the experience. He thanks his band before his final two songs and disappears into a cloud of smoke.

The audience disintegrate and with that same murmur of whispers appears again. It was not what I expected.

It was characteristic of the rapper to disappear unannounced, but somehow I was wishing for a Yeezus tour, with Jesus and mountains and ballerinas. I was expecting clouds floating above the audience and somehow I feel like European audiences were cheated of the full West, the same way we're cheated when Yeezy x Nike collaborations don't appear on our shelves.

I walked away somber. I'm still wondering what Kanye would have done without electricity.

Kanye West @ Wireless, July 4th 2014

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