16 things we learnt about kanye last night
West put on an archetypically ambitious event at Madison Square Gardens last night. Part-fashion presentation, part-album playback, part-parade and part party, we sat back and watched as the Chicago creative re-set the rules of rap once more. There are...
1. Airbrushing is back
Kanye arrived at the show wearing an airbrushed t-shirt. On the front was an image of his mother, Donda, on the back was his father-in-law, Robert and the words 'In Loving Memory'. You could buy the T's from the MSG merch stall for a smooth $40.
2. Kanye owns an iPhone 6
We know this because after the grand entrance of the Balmain-clad Kardashian crew, Kanye enters in a red sweater, which reads 'I Love Pablo', surrounded by his G.O.O.D music mates including 2Chainz and Pusha T, and heads to a laptop where he plugs in his iPhone and promptly presses play.
3. Talking of his mum, he's made a video game about her and it's very weird
It's called Only One and it's a game about Donda, who died in 2007, following complications from plastic surgery. "The idea is of my mum traveling through the gates of heaven," he says by way of introduction. "John, can we play it on the videoscreen?" John presses play. Here's Donda on a winged horse, flying through celestial clouds and cosmic sunsets towards the gates of heaven. It reminds us, very much, of this game. "That's not easy to do," he exclaims when greeted by bemused silence after the clip ends. "You don't understand, bro. I'll meet everyone in San Francisco and they'll diss the fuck out of me! That was hard to do, bro. That shit was hard to do."
4. He's definitely developed a sense of humour and a smidgeon of self-awareness.
He laughs a lot after the video game, presumably acutely aware how bonkers it is. There's also has an interlude on the album featuring Kanye talking about Kanye ending with an 'I love you like Kanye loves Kanye." He's clearly seen this card in Urban Outfitters.
5. Back to the show and the music.
Kanye's playback/show concept was not only hugely ambitious, it was mostly successful. Say what you will about him, but Kanye consistently keeps things interesting; who else would do what he does, in the way that he does it. "I lot of times I get misunderstood," he explains. "If you're gonna be an artist, you gotta do what's in your heart. No one can tell you what field to stay in. I mean, it's the number one shoe," he grinned, reminding us how successful the Yeezy's are. In case anyone had forgotten. "It's the number one Christmas present. It's not regular. Flying to Paris, flying to Venice, finishing wraps." Quite.
6. Taylor may be a bit upset by Pablo
On the Swizz Beatz produced Famous, he says 'For all my southside n----s that know me best/ I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. I made that bitch famous.'
7. And then he says it again
'I made that bitch famous' is repeated twice. Just in case no one heard it the first time. Ye, you guys JUST made friends FFS.
8. Kim might also be a bit annoyed
There is this Ray J line: 'I bet me and Ray J'd be friends if we ain't love the same bitch/ Ye ain't mad ya hit it first/ Only problem is I'm rich'. Erm. If Kanye were a movie he would definitely not pass the Bechdel Test. He also references KK's brother: 'Blac Cynna fucking Rob help him with his weight/ I wish my trainer would tell me what I over-ate.' I mean, this is a guy who giveth few fucks.
9. There is, in fact, little filter
Kanye is the artist who finishes an album in the morning, takes it to Madison Square Gardens on his iPhone 6 at 4pm, plugs it into a computer and then plays it not only to 20,000 people there, but to people in 700 cinemas the world over. At the same time, he puts on a fashion show featuring 400 street-cast models and Naomi Campbell. It streams around the world to millions of people. Who does that? Kanye West.
10. Pablo is a gospel album but it's far from holy
Despite prayers and appearances from Kelly Price and Kirk Harding, there is some serious profanity and provocative punchlines asunder on Pablo. 'If I fuck this model and she just bleached her asshole, and she sits on my jumper, I'm gonna feel like a real asshole'. Etc., etc.
11. Regarding which, you think, maybe Kanye could do with some more depth?
After Yeezus, Ye seems to have dispensed with his more thought-provoking poetry. Besides a shout out to Paris, the record is mostly concerned with thanking God and thinking of good ways to talk about how awesome he is. It's fun and inflammatory and ridiculous, but it could do with a little less lol, a little more thought.
12. No More Parties In LA didn't make it
Nor did the original version of Wolves with Sia and Vic Mensa. There were other surprises; Frank Ocean pops up on the album closer, while KiD Cudi makes an appearance on the opener. West also thanks everyone from Post Malone to El Debarge, Rihanna (who features on the Sister Nancy sampling. Taylor Swift baiting Famous), The-Dream, Ty Dolla $ign, Young Thug and a particularly striking verse from Chance the Rapper who is clearly very happy to be involved; 'I met Kanye West, I'm never gonna fail'.
13. Carine Roitfeld is "a bad bitch"
Kanye also thanks Olivier Rousteing for dressing the entire Kardashian crew in head to tour Balmain, including floor length fur for Kim. After telling us that putting this together was "a hard struggle, it couldn't have happened without God holding me down," West also acknowledges Jay Z, Kim and her family (several times), Vanessa Beecroft and adidas "For paying for this shit". He also thanks the models for "standing still while I talk all my shit…" He's not done yet. "One of the hardest things to do is to get the people who worked on my collection to roll with a rapper. It feels so good to see all my music family, my wife, her sisters and all of New York standing behind this crazy n---a from the interviews."
14. He has his sights set on Hermès
"My dream, I told Anna this backstage, is to be Creative Director of Hermès. That would be a dream of mine. I just want to bring as much beauty to the world as possible. I'm only 38 years-old."
15. We presume this means he's on first name terms with Anna Wintour
16. We still don't know who Pablo is
Can anyone explain the title? Anyone?
Text Hattie Collins
Lead photography Jason Lloyd Evans