How loud was Yeezy’s Yeezus listening last night, blasted from the loading dock of westside Manhattan’s Milk Studios?
So loud that New Jersey heard it. So loud that my kidneys are still vibrating. So loud that even the Spinal Tap dudes were like “Bro, maybe turn it down to eight and a half?” It felt like something between lying directly beneath a jet path and getting into a slap bet with Godzilla — and mostly, it was glorious.
It was also very very dark. Or as a friend turned and said to me: ” When did Kanye get into Ministry?” At times, the whole night felt like it was about to break into the opening scene in Blade (cue the blood sprinklers!). But it was also just a party, with an open bar and dancing and a lot of complicated handshakes between old friends and scenester acquaintances. ‘Ye’s full East Coast roster of famous fans came out: Jay-Z and Beyonce were there, glowing with the light of a thousand suns; so were lesser celestial bodies like Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, and Timbaland, plus a towering crew of flamingo-like models and professional athletes.
After an hour (only an hour!) of milling around in Milk’s dim, cavernous space, the crowd turned to find ‘Ye himself onstage, delivering an impassioned, rambling, and sometimes impenetrable introduction — there was a lot of talk of artistry and marketing (“I got a new strategy, it’s called no strategy. I have a plan to sell more music, it’s called ‘make better music.’”) and something about Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson’s clothing lines — before he wrapped with “I had to learn about giving, this whole album is about giving… this whole process is about giving … NO F–KS AT ALL.” Touché! Go home, kumbaya.
This blog post isn’t an album review; our writer Ray Rahman will be delivering that next Tuesday, or sooner if the record officially leaks. But I will say that from two listenings, this definitely feels like his Darker, Twistier, Still Sometimes Beautiful Fantasy. Some technical details: West revealed that Daft Punk are on “three or four” tracks; Kid Cudi and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Chief Keef also appear; it was hard to catch titles beyond already-known ones like “I am a God,” “Can’t Handle My Liquor,” “Black Skinhead,” and “New Slaves” (featuring Frank Ocean), but one that appeared to borrow samples from both TNGHT’s “Higher Ground” and Billie Holiday’s haunting lynching ballad ”Strange Fruit” will almost definitely be a talking point when it goes wider.
Is this record going to be all over the radio? Are these let-the-alpine-blast summer jams? Not in America in 2013, no. But it still sounds — if I could actually hear anything this morning besides a faint post-show mosquito buzz — like a pretty fascinating manifestation of what goes on inside the mind of one of pop music’s most confounding, singular, and totally gonzo talents. Yeezus! He is risen.