It's common knowledge by now: Kanye West is a master of samples. And I for one am not the best at pointing them out, but that makes it all the more sweeter when it's revealed to me, I go back and listen to the song sampled, and have the light bulb moment of "I can hear it!". That moment comes 33 seconds in to Hungarian 60s rock band Omega's "Gyöngyhajú Lány". Apparently they were as big as The Beatles in their native country, cites OkayPlayer. As is almost always the case, I love the original song in its own right and Kanye yet again puts a whole new demographic of listeners onto his own taste of music. You'll hear where 'Ye flipped this song in "New Slaves" in the projection premiere at the end of 'Ye's raps (this outro didn't make the SNL performance).
Earlier this year, a nice action photo surfaced of Will Smith in the studio with Kanye West. A lot of fans, including yours truly, have since clammored for a potential 'Fresh Yeezy' collab. After months of mum, Will Smith recalled the experience with Kanye in the studio and had this teaser to say in a new interview with HipHollywood promoting his upcoming movie with son Jaden, After Earth (which looks pretty cool by the way).
"I been messing around with Kanye," Will says. "We went into the studio a couple times, so I might get the bug. I’m not going to do it unless I’m truly inspired, but Kanye’s been pushing me a little bit."
Are you hoping for a return to music from Will Smith? As long as it's not strictly aimed for radio stations, then I'm all for it. If he's in the studio with Kanye... I think that's a good sign.
At one point during the start of #YeezySeason this weekend, I thought to myself what his fellow peers in the industry are thinking about how he premiered "New Slaves". Naturally, and expectedly, I'm not the only one as Sway was thinking the same and got thoughts from Kendrick Lamar about the spectacle that still has everyone buzzing. It's cool to hear that K. Dot is inspired by the "New Slaves" premiere and it makes me think back to his outdoor concert for Good Kid, m.a.a.d. city outside of Staples Center last fall. With one like that under his belt, I bet Kendrick Lamar comes up with something innovative again like this, and along the "create an experience" lines of Kanye's "New Slaves" as well, for his next big release.
So it looks like the Don C teaser for the artwork last night proved correct today. Here's the new scan of the album art to Yeezus. I like the handwritten red tape addition, just not sure what to make of what the gold part of the cover is representing. I'm sure we'll have more details on that soon though.
Up above: Kanye's first performance "Black Skinhead". Down below, his performance of "New Slaves". My first thoughts: more musical evolution from Kanye West. Vibing with the sound and the aesthetics. What did you think of the performances?
UPDATED Thoughts: After sitting with "Black Skinhead" especially and digesting the lyrics (handwritten by 'Ye below), I have come to a point where I'm liking it more with each listen. My first experience was just appreciating the visuals and the heavy, heavy metal influence in the song's sound. The seizure-inducing flashes behind 'Ye, with silhouettes of his ensemble behind him were both amazing. Not to mention Yeezy's "All Black Everything", save for the new red Air Yeezys.
Lyrically, Kanye is comin' back with a clear message and disdain for society, especially when it comes to the racism he not only sees but experiences. The King Kong reference cleverly drives it home for me in "Black Skinhead", with the song as a whole feeling like an independence anthem. Likely because it feels like Kanye is creating from that place of complete, unfiltered freedom. Just as much as ever, you can feel Kanye's soul pour out in his words, with no barrier in between.
For my initial thoughts on "New Slaves", check out my experience and video of the Wrigley Field premiere. As far as tonight's performance goes, the sound sounds even more crisp as one would expect. I thought the first few bars would be delivered more intensely but it set up a nice contrast to the rest of the song. 'Ye being completely still, his stare fixated into space, was magnificent.
Other fun/little things I liked: the LeBron 'Akron' reference in "Black Skinhead" actually made me want to root for LeBron (for just a minute, hah!), the Romans/Trojans punchlines, and Mano embodying the #TreatedCrew steez by wilin' out in the background of both performances.
And overall, what else can I say? 'Ye's got the performance game down to a constantly evolving and creative level. Tonight, he stole the show from Ben Affleck, Amy Poehler's guest appearance, and Bill Hader's final episode (Fred Armisen's too?). #YeezySeason, indeed.
Via Don C's Instagram tonight @GivenchyDon, we have a first-look at both the All Red Air Yeezy 2 and the possible album art to the newly announced upcoming Kanye West album, Yeezus. 'Ye also sported the Red Yeezy's during tonight's performances on SNL, but given the dark aesthetics (fancy way of saying "lack of light"), one couldn't really get a good look at them (there's a quick flash in spotlight during the "Black Skinhead" performance). From what I can see so far, the kicks look fresh. I love when red's the dominant color on kicks so I'll surely be keeping a close eye out on these. As for the possible album art: that graphic is at the very least representing the aggresive, highly intense tone of Kanye's first two releases. I'm excited to see the final version and to find out what the symbolism means.
Thoughts on the kicks and (possible) Yeezus cover art?
More Kanye West headlines (and it's not stopping with his performance on SNL just hours away...) as Rap-Up is confirming the much-publicized rumor that Kanye is releasing his next album on June 18th. The title — Yeezus.
The (hip hop) world is talkin' about the premiere of "New Slaves" on 66 buildings in 10 cities last night and the other new, juicy detail is that Frank Ocean is to appear as a featured vocalist on "New Slaves". As if people weren't already excited for "New Slaves" to drop, hah. Count me amongst the many.
INCYMI, Maks G and I marveled at the amazing, pop-up premiere of "New Slaves" and were at two of Chicago's most iconic landmarks to capture some raw video! Read our experiences and watch a full preview of "New Slaves"!
It was a wonderful experience as I walked up to Millennium Park. I already saw the van with all the projection equipment geared up and people standing like they're about to watch something amazing. And they did. I then turned my walk into a slight run as I entered the grassy walkway through the tree-line into an intimate setting of art & music lovers alike.
The night temperature was really nice, and the skyline crispy that night. Setting super dope; glittering buildings on Michigan Ave, and the Art Institute energy next door felt right. Now play! One of the fountains that projects the faces of hue-manity in Millennium Park, a Chicago landmark, was emanating the spirit of Kanye West. And let me tell you — he went off. It was like the Great Wizard of Chicago. Speaking on the concept of "new slaves"; i.e. people that consciously or unconsciously go along with global cultural brainwashing, which is designed for the purpose of dumbing down individual expression in order to push specific money making agendas that are toxic to planetary health and lucrative to the select few.
Ye's passion on this one delivered home some education of what's really goin' on in the world in a cool way. There was this essence of "You can't fuck with Ye", you can't fuck with the people like they are the "new slaves". Because the people have the power. Can you feel it? The people have the power. That's what the video was about for me. I was reminded of the power of the people earlier in the night actually, during the Chicago screening at the Six Corners. Large groups of people stood at each of the six corners, packed. Once the video was about to play, the people rushed the streets. Police couldn't do anything but smile. Cars couldn't go anywhere. There was this 5 minute pause, where the people decided to enjoy some art under one intention. That's the power of the people united.
Panorama at 6 Corners in Wicker Park by @heath_michaels
Anyway, what else did I like about the video premiere? I loved the last minute notice, 10 city's, 66 buildings. No tweets thereafter. Nice move, it felt special, and raw. Seeing it premiere live, breathing from out the architecture, traveling in a black Hummer and black van through the city — it was living light, energetically flowing throughout the night.
Embodying your spirit onto buildings is a powerful way to energetically get your message across. That's that next level branding. Being more than the man, weaving the symbol or the essence of that expression into the environment creates a big subconscious impact. Alchemy! Creating an experience for people really anchors and seeds the energy more fully. So all in all I had a great artsy experience, which I love. Echo gowhere you love. Thanks Kanye for an awesome city-wide installation of your authentic work. A one night only pop-up exhibit. I had plans to do have you do a show on a boat one day — cruising down the Chicago River, with lights, lasers, acrobats, fire-breathers, mermaids, loud speakers, and fireworks. Let's collab — I know the city would love it! Peace and One Love.
It all started with this announcement on Twitter...
One hurried click to KanyeWest.comand, after sharing this info on GWHH, I jetted from the office to meet a few friends at Wrigley Field and caught this iconic moment on video above.
And as I type this, I still can't get over the fact that I saw Kanye West premiere a new song on the side of Wrigley Field tonight (imposed over the likes of Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Alfonso Soriano no less... meaning even more to this die hard Cubs fan).
Simply put, I've never seen anything like this. My instant reaction was: "I'll call you back," to my friend on the phone and then I proceeded to drop whatever I was doing to go see this. It was a "I have to be there or else I'm missing history" type moment. And when I was there, I felt that I was witnessing history even more. A diverse group of strangers all gathered under the Wrigley Field marquee, waiting 45 minutes passed the 9:50 start time to see two black vehicles pull up, unload a projector and speakers, press play, and then pack up and go to the next destination.
The song itself, "New Slaves", is the perfect record to accompany this spectacle and keep people talking. 'Ye lashes out at the system for its aim to control African-Americans and celebrities as the "New Slaves". His rhymes are analytical of society and draw from personal experience ("Ya'll throwin' contracts at me, you know that n****s can't read", for example) to exhibit the racism he personally feels and sees. His delivery and lyrics become progressively intense and defiant, and some of the one-liners (certainly 'Ye's most vulgar language and the "Hampton" bars to conclude) are eye-raising and chuckle-inducing to even the casual passerby. I look forward to listening to "New Slaves" even more when 'Ye drops the album, and perhaps performs it tomorrow night on Saturday Night Live.
I have to also commend Mr. West and his DONDA team for executing such a brilliant experience. Creating a spectacle like this is almost always an amazing social experiment. And, as you can see, in a little over an hour, people flocked to Wrigley Field just by 'Ye's influence on social media and the ensuing word of mouth. Later screenings of "New Slaves" even blocked off streets in the city. Amazing. I can't say enough about the creativity behind this. I can say I'll never forget this night.
UPDATE: Here are some more photos from our journey around the city tonight!
Panorama at Wrigley Field by Sgt. Tibs
Panorama at 6 Corners in Wicker Park by @heath_michaels
Dude taking the escalator during the 6 Corners Projection by @WhoDough
"New Slaves" @ Millennium Park, downtown by @heath_michaels
Here are the three SNL promo ads running this week, leading up to the season finale this Saturday — hosted by Ben Affleck with, of course, Kanye West as the musical guest. All of these inspired some chuckles, but no doubt I'm not tuning in Saturday because of the laughs (no slight to Affleck, he's good) but I'll be dialed up to see what Kanye performs. Lots of speculation about a new album announcement or even a premiere of a new song. What do you think it will be?