Kanye West Brings 'Fantasy,' Famous Friends to NYC Show
One day after his "Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" hit stores, Kanye West gave fans, music execs like Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Sylvia Rhone and L.A. Reid, and celebrities including Mos Def, 88 Keys, ?uestlove, Diddy, Selita Ebanks and comedian Aziz Ansari, a surprise show at New York's Bowery Ballroom that was well worth a three and a half hour wait.
Most members of the media found out West was performing a surprise show in New York City just yesterday morning (Nov. 23), thanks to a tweet by singer/rapper Teyana Taylor. But from the looks of the line outside the Bowery later that night -- a line that had wrapped around Delancey Street almost twice since 9pm -- it seemed that West's fans, most of whom purchased tickets for $100 a piece, weren't fazed by the short notice.
Starting at 12:30am, West took the stage with Taylor, who sang background for him on some tracks, and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon -- who manned Auto-Tuned singing duties for most of the night -- for a steady, back-to-back performance of the tracklist off his fifth album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."
Video: Kanye West Performs "Dark Fantasy"
"Tonight, I'mma do my 'Dark Twisted Fantasy,'" West told the crowd after kicking off with the album's opening number, "Dark Fantasy," as Taylor, rocking a skin-tight, floor-length gown, held down vocals. He then performed "Georgeous," "Power" and "All of the Lights," the latter most appropriate since his stage backdrop was a wall of big, round, luminous flashing lights.
That's when the first surprise guest of the night hit the stage. Nicki Minaj, who like 'Ye released an album, her "Pink Friday" debut, on Nov. 22, performed "Monster" with West sans Jay-Z. Swizz Beatz and G.O.O.D. Music artists CyHi Da Prince and Pusha T joined West on stage next for the fan favorite, "So Appalled," then Rick Ross appeared for "Devil in a Dress." "Are y'all having a good time so far?" West asked the roaring room.
Video: Kanye West & Nicki Minaj perform "Monster"
But it was when the crowd heard the first few notes of "Runaway" that West's fans grew the most hyped -- including Diddy, who tried to egg West on from the second-floor balcony, and Cohen and Reid, who danced erratically and applauded loudly from their VIP posts. The set was possibly the highlight of the evening, as an animated Pusha T overly dramatized his rhymes and West pounded away on his MPC machine.
West closed the set with "Hell of a Life," "Blame Game" (alongside John Legend) and "Lost In The World" (with a special intro from Vernon), before thanking all of his special guests. "Make some noise for Teyana Taylor, Justin Vernon, CyHi Da Prince, Pusha T, John Legend, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross... and y'all for being a beautiful audience."
Just as the show appeared to be over, though, West gave a bonus encore that included brief versions of "Christian Dior Denim Flow," "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Good Life," before going into another insta-viral rant about his success, former President George W. Bush, the "Today" show and Taylor Swift.
Video: Kanye West talks Taylor Swift & George W. Bush
"For me to be considered a racist for stating a blatant truth -- an obvious truth," West said of his 2005 remarks on Hurricane Katrina. "The whole time I'm thinking, 'That's not exactly what I wanted to say,' but I rode it... Just like Taylor never came to my defense in any interview and rode it... To think a rapper's comment could be [George Bush's] lowest moment... That's not what he f*cking said. Everything would've been O.K. if [the 'Today' show] didn't play the audio that day."
West ended his venting on a lighter note, thanking his fans -- and, unexpectedly, the media -- for the reception his album has received so far. "As you know, it's been an extremely hard year for me... I never thought I'd say this, I wanna thank the magazines for perfect scores across the board.
"To do 100,000 the first day digital alone," West continued in reference to his first day sale numbers, "and slated to do 600,000 first week. I'm not here to do no motherf*cking politics. I'm here to make music. I'm not here to talk in no motherf*cking interviews. No one ask me any stupid f*cking questions."