REVIEW: The Yeezus Tour At Madison Square Garden
by Lawrence Ferrell
“Yall are some cool parents. Mine would never go to this show or be so hip,” said a Millennial to me and my companion. His comment came after she and I were talking about Schoolboy Q and “Collard Greens“. The look she gave him had me laughing in disbelief for two reasons: 1) she’s almost a decade younger than me and 2) him thinking we were THAT old. Granted, if my life had followed the path of many in my age group (35 – 45), I should have had a child or two by now. Her on the other hand, nah. The more he continued to perform his own eulogy, the harder my laughter became. However my laughter soon faded when I had an epiphany as the first verse of “On Sight” started.
The Yeezus Tour was something to behold. It started with a bittersweet performance by the legendary A Tribe Called Quest, hailing it as their final show ever. The four man crew (Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife, and Jarobi) gave the crowd hits upon hits (“Award Tour“, “Electric Relaxation”, “Check The Rhime”, “Buggin’ Out”). “Bonita Applebum” had tongues wagging when Stephanie Santiago stepped on stage as the physical manifestation of Low End Theory album cover. Busta Rhymes, as always, amped up the audience during “Scenario”, trucking his way towards the stage for his verse. A tear almost ran down my face as Tip thanked the audience for years of support and hugged his brothers before all four stepped off stage for the last time.
It was Kanye’s time to perform with a mountainous set inspired by the Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film, The Holy Mountain. Complete with smoke machines, interestingly garbed female set pieces, and a towering circular screen behind him, a masked Kanye hit the stage performing songs off his Yeezus album. Each couple of songs coincided with various themes such as “Fighting”, “Rising”, and “Falling”.
Seeing the crowd finishing lines from “New Slaves” and “I Am A God” made me realize I was among a new generation. Those who prefer Yeezus and 808s and Heartbreak over College Dropout or Late Registration. It’s weird seeing some of the audience react like this to “Hold My Liquor” or “Heartless”. Guess they had a moment.
After doing “Runaway” (sorry, no ballerinas), Kanye asked the audience if he could say something. Of course the audience said “Yeah!” and so began the infamous Kanye Rant. Ranging from the media, taking control of one’s art, Lenny Kravitz providing the inspiration for “Niggas In Paris” and declaring himself the “Tupac of this culture shit”, Kanye had alot to get off his chest. Over twenty minutes of talking prompted someone in my section to wonder out loud “What happened to the rest of the concert?” Guess Yeezy got the hint when he said, “I know, yall are wondering ‘when is he gonna play the hits'”, before launching into “Stronger”. Now this is the Kanye West I knew.
For the majority of the show, Kanye wore an array of masks, only to reveal his face once “White Jesus” appeared. Different types of emotions engulfed me as I tried to find an explanation for this. Granted it was set up to kick off “Jesus Walks” and the “Finding” theme of the concert, but still..a White Jesus, man.
Kanye gave us the songs we knew and loved like “Diamonds (From Sierra Leone)”, “Flashing Lights”, and “Good Life”. Around that time I became fatigued and left to beat the crowd. On my way home, I bumped in a young friend I haven’t seen since 2001. After we hugged and gushed over A Tribe Called Quest, we were both left pondering about the Yeezus show we just witnessed. She, like myself, got lost trying to listen to his current album and maybe that was the disconnect. We loved the earlier albums and supported that era. Maybe Kanye has outgrown us, his earlier incarnations gone forever. Just like he lamented about Michael Jackson in “All The Lights“, I did him.
Kanye gone…our nigga dead.