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“…As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still…”
Excerpt from “Alone” by Edgar Allen Poe.

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A top the mountain.

Atlanta – December, 2013

A mountain, a mask, and a fashion of playing to an audience while hiding behind something…

In one of the strangest performances that I have witnessed since Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s opening for Nine Inch Nails, Chicago artist, Kanye West returned to the city of his birth with The Yeezus Tour in support of the aforementioned 2013 album. Poised to present his first solo tour in 5 years (previously touring with his Glow In The Dark Tour featuring Rihanna, N.E.R.D., Lupe Fiasco, and Nas) with opening act Kendrick Lamar.

An elaborately choreographed presentation spanning Kanye’s College Dropout, Late Registration, with some focus on Graduation, but, to my liking, taking the majority of the direction from Yeezus, and 808 & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with preceded it, the tour arrived amid the inordinate press that has been known to follow Kanye since 2007. Recent remarks, and blowups have litter current media with talking points regarding the Chicago artist have also followed with the “Talk My Shit,” interludes that now litter dates of his tour.

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Ye in action.

The performance intelligently began with Yeezus content, with Yeezy perched atop a mountain with a moon like video board that tempered the climate of the show, whether creating a moon effect, displaying weather, or giving a close up of the performance. Though Kanye, tends to project a larger than life persona, the use of four ornate masks, he plays a high energy show, allowing a separation between he and his audience. Kanye conceals himself for 85% – 90% of the performance. The anonymous and uniform theme is extended to the female dancers and male extras who are covered in full bodysuits, allowing all attention to be focused on the act, Kanye himself.

The massive showmanship of the show is extended from the aforementioned mountain, I say again, he has a mountain, to the mobile precipice that he uses to play to his general admission standing room floor audience. As the show begins, Kanye’s energy is flawless as he cycled through “New Slaves,” then heads into his verses from his Cruel Summer compilation “Mercy,” “Cold,” “I Don’t Like,” and “Clique,” without accompaniment from 2 Chainz, who was in attendance.

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Mufasa-Kanye

His deity pandering, may be too much for those who choose to be offended by him, but it is a part of his art, and what he presented with the Yeezus album and it takes part of its showing, as he is carried by his faceless women while performing on his back. Even the appearance of “White Jesus,” before the obvious introduction of “Jesus Walks,” elicited some “oohs,” and “aahs,” for those in attendance that may have had questions, though they self-righteously sang along to all of his songs, even when he professes to “put my fist in her, like a Civil Rights sign.”

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Carried by many.

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Kanye unmasked with the man he called, “White Jesus.”

Kanye also, after looking like Mufasa from The Lion King, emotionally pauses to introduce “Coldest Winter,” explaining that it was written in reaction to him receiving the news of his mother’s, Donda West, passing.

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“Flashing Lights.”

Later the act progresses elaborately into the slowly growing crescendo for the Chief Keef and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) powered “Can’t Hold My Liquor.”

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Pyro, Kanye in action.

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“All Of The Lights” put your cell phones up!

Though, as Kanye states, he’s an artists, that pulled you in with his raps, his ornate and elaborate show loses portions of its effect due to the lack of direction of Kanye’s performance. Long conversations and tirades sap the energy from the crowd that is left scratching their heads at times, leading to a lull when he returns to his musical performance. Though missed, as an artist, he should not and could not include Justin Vernon physically to add his haunting vocals that accentuate the aforementioned “Liquor,” “I’m In It,” “All Of The Lights,” and “Lost In The World,” but The Yeezus Tour though better vocal performance by Kanye West, paled in comparison to the control and direction of his 2011 Coachella performance and that years’ Watch The Throne tour with Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) which distracted from a fully enjoyable show.

Ultimately, the dichotomy of Kanye West, tends to distract from the artist that Kanye purports himself to be. He has become a polarizing figure that make it hard for some to separate the man from the art that he produces. Yeezus is easily one of the best and most forward thinking and effectively ambitious releases of 2013, and will be marveled over for years to come, but as the TMZ sound bite public figure the man has become an incorrigible fool, whose ignorance is out off as intelligence. Please don’t put off that we need the designers, because rappers get the masses to spend their money. Don’t speak to the flashy lives of your contemporaries, when you live the same lifestyle passive-aggressively. Being a music aficionado, don’t put me off with genius, when you place yourself in the echelon without the foundation on which to stand. In all honesty, these elements eventually play into the experience yielded by attendees that are not your evangelists.

Kanye West is better served performing as part of a massive event (Coachella), or coupled with a valid contemporary (Jay-Z).

Setlist:
On Sight
New Slaves
Send It Up
Mercy
Power
Cold
I Don’t Like
Clique
Black Skinhead
I Am a God
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Coldest Winter
Hold My Liquor
I’m In It
Guilt Trip
Heartless
Blood on the Leaves
Lost in the World
Runaway
Stronger
Through the Wire
Jesus Walks
Diamonds from Sierra Leone
Flashing Lights
All of the Lights
Good Life
Bound 2

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.

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