Kanye West Compares Himself to "Picasso," Hangs with White Jesus in Miami
Photo courtesy of the Yeezus Tour
With Kendrick Lamar
American Airlines Arena, Miami
Friday, November 29, 2013
Better Than: Church, and all that Catholic guilt.
It's been five years since Kanye West's last solo headlining tour. But in that half-decade, he's gone from simple hip-hop prophet to full-on god. Last night's Yeezus tour in Miami was a sure showstopper. Well, he only stopped to talk shit for, like, 20 minutes. But the rest was back-to-back-to-back hits.
Have you ever seen a rapper split a mountain in half, writhe around with nude dancers, or spit through a disco mask? Yep, it sounds crazy. But "this is Yeezus."
Mr. West is the best in the game. So he gets nothing less but the hottest rising star to warm up his crowd: Compton's highly celebrated Kendrick Lamar, who got the party started at the American Airlines Arena, only about 30 minutes after the advertised 8 p.m. showtime.
Kendrick came running out in a gray hoodie and white pants to spit his rhymes backed by a full band. He started off with "Money Trees," running out onto a triangle platform in the middle of the AAA's floor, yelling with anger and excitement into the microphone. Behind him, a montage of his homies lined against fences mixed with old family videos and gritty shots of his neighborhood flickered across the massive LED screens.
He made sure the whole place was jumpin', from front to back, just like a good opener is supposed to, droppin' gems from his massive good kid, m.A.A.d city. He also dropped a few new favorites, like his verse from A$AP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems," which he did twice, and his remix version of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe."
He threw down some 2Pac with "Hail Mary," reminding the Miami crowd that he comes from the bloody West Side before giving them his own gun-slinging anthem, "m.A.A.d. City." He got quiet and introspective on "Sing About Me," took us through his hometown on "Compton," and left amid a heavy a cappella of his lyrics from the "I Am" interlude.
"I will be back," he shouted as the band played out. "I love you, Florida."
It was now 9:04 p.m., and it would be about 50 minutes until Kanye was ready to take the stage.
Photo courtesy of the Yeezus Tour
Now, Kanye, always the conceptual artist, does nothing half-assed. So with the Yeezus tour, he took us on an abstract spiritual journey. Throughout the course of the evening, we traveled with Kanye through highs and lows. We watched him languish on the edge of darkness. We saw him rise to victory in the arms of White Jesus. It was pretty insane, and it all kicked off with a strange, ethereal procession of white-gowned women wearing stockings over their heads.
These 12 ladies came out from behind a giant glacial mountain onto the triangle platform, where a single white spotlight shined down in front of them. A woman's voice announced the theme of the first chapter of tonight's journey, Fighting.
A guitar crunched and Kanye spoke: "I am not here right now, leave a message after the life." Suddenly, the massive, angry chords of "On Sight" erupted, and Kanye appeared, taking the spotlight. (Bonus swag factor, he was singing about David Grutman and we were in Miami. Holler, represent.)
West, being a pillar of progressive fashion, spent most of the show rapping from behind a series of face masks. He started with a lavish mask covered in gold and hanging jewels. It might be one of the most bizarre pieces of stage gear we've ever seen.
He worked through all the angry songs, like "New Slaves," "Send It Up," and "Mercy." Then we moved into the next stage of our journey: Rising. "Pride always preludes the crash," the woman's voice told us. "The bigger the ego, the harder the fall."
"Power" chants began as a giant orb, hanging above a mountain, began shining through clouds. And then Kanye reemerged, rapping from behind the rocky peak, glowing in the light of the giant circle. He had changed clothes: no shirt and an an all-black mask covered in black, glittery studs.