So Help Me God, Swish, Waves and now The Life of Pablo – Kanye West’s newest release finally arrived on Thursday night as he hosted a stream of the new album to coincide with the Yeezy Season 3 fashion launch. Through carefully placed media hype from a dedicated PR team, the new arrival has been buzzing on social media for months now, with over 20 million people tuning in to watch the show at Madison Square Gardens.
Kanye took to the stage 45 minutes late, and looked like a nervous schoolboy as he mumbled through his welcome address, encouraging the audience to dance and clap if they felt it was appropriate. This humble modesty is a far cry from the Twitter rampages West is famed for, but 1 minute into Ultra Light Beams he had sunk back into his skin, fist bumping anyone coming his way to praise. This reaction was the polar opposite of his models, as they stood still upon the stage looking like survivors of some post apocalyptic disaster, donning torn threads and tears in their eyes. Naomi Campbell’s brief cameo is the only smile we saw amongst the 100’s of models occupying the centre court, a swift reminder that Kanye is more famous than you’ll ever be. The models stood in despair throughout the 1 hour and 30-minute performance, as Kanye sampled tracks from The Life of Pablo featuring some pretty questionable statements that left viewers gasping, aimed at everyone from Taylor Swift to Ray J. Packaged in with an ode to Kanye entitled “I Miss the Old Kanye”, the spectacle merged the lines between over the top and hanging out at your friend’s house throughout. This was best exemplified by the Balmain kitted out Kardashian sisters pouting their way through the performance contrasted with Kanye passing about the aux cable like he was at a keg party in 06.
Whilst Kanye is often critiqued for his arrogant persona, the sheer figures of those eager to hear the release first reflect that Kanye is much more than just an ego running his mouth. Love him or hate him, he is a creative powerhouse that is leading the way in popular culture, with innovative production on his music and a unique approach to carving his way into the fashion world. I just wish he’d stuck with Waves so he could claim that the gravitational waves discovered on the same day were the direct result of his creative vision.
By Olivia Wedderburn