Kanye West “could give a fuck” about how much money he’ll pocket from upcoming album, “Yeezus.” What he does seem to care about, though, is that the message behind “Yeezus” stares you dead in the face — like it or not.
GOVERNORS BALL: DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | PHOTOS | VIDEOS
West opened his 21-song set at Governors Ball on Sunday night (June 9) with a new song off “Yeezus” (out June 18), “Black Skinhead.” Shown across three screens on the festival’s main stage, visuals of three menacing hounds barking introduced the rapper onto the stage. Kanye previewed the song’s visuals during the song’s debut on the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” in May.
As ‘Ye rapped about being society’s dartboard, concert-goers, mostly silent, either watched the mic-gripping West or the background stage visuals, which included black people wearing black Ku Klux Klan conical hats.
He transitioned to the fast-paced “New Slaves.” More surprising than the majority of Ball attendees knowing the brazen lyrics (“You see it’s leaders and there’s followers…But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower”), is that close to a month after West projected the “Slaves” video on buildings nation-wide, the official audio for the track has yet to leak.
Mid-set, West moved from the main stage to one located in the middle of the packed crowd. He walked to the stage through a cleared, gated path which was surrounded by fans’ screaming “Yeezus” and with hands stretched out hoping to side high-five. His band hung back as ‘Ye switched his black leather jacket, adorned in silver spikes, for an aviator jacket to coincide with visuals playing behind him.
‘Ye also blazed through a handful of hits from his five studio solo albums and G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation album, “Cruel Summer” (“Don’t Like,” Mercy,” “Clique”). He premiered two new “Yeezus” songs, “I Am A God” and “On Site,” which play with lo-fi electronic soundscapes. “I Am A God,” sonically less aggressive than former new songs previewed, features his signature primal screams.
Aside from the input of three new “Yeezus” tracks, ‘Ye’s set was similar to his 90-minute show at the Adult Swim Upfront at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in May. His live experiences have become more expected — more show than expression and release. It’s as if the more polarizing a figure he becomes and the bigger the sound he creates, the harder it is for him to connect and be personal. His signature rants even have a mental place on his set list.
“This is the part of the show when I start complaining about shit, justifying shit, but you know how it is,” he says as he let the menacing beat of “Clique” ride.
‘Ye continued to rant about the rollout of his album and his lack of care behind promotion and radio play: “With this album we ain’t drop no single to radio. We ain’t got no NBA campaign, nothing like that. Shit, we ain’t even got no cover. We just made some real music. Like, back when I used to make albums and shit, a couple years ago, we’d go away and work on the album for months or something. We’d always have to hold the album to like August, or September or till the perfect moment and shit. Because it mean that ‘I think would sell more if it get more audience and shit.’ But honestly at this point when I listen to radio, that ain’t where I want to be no more. Honestly at this point, I could give a fuck about selling a million records as long as I put out an album for the summer that y’all can rock to for all fuckin’ summer… At this point I don’t really give a fuck about outside opinion.”
West’s love for his artistry is still very much present. You can especially feel his passion when he performs his new material (“Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”) which is racial and socio-political driven but it may be too personal for such an impersonal platform. Nonetheless, West is starting a conversation of deep-rooted issues with “Yeezus,” and much like himself, he won’t allow you to dimiss it.
Check out the full set list below:
1. “Black Skinhead”
2. “New Slaves”
5. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
7. “I Am A God”
8. ” Jesus Walks”
9. “Say You Will”
11. “Flashing Lights”
12. “All of the Lights”
14. “Don’t Like”
15. “On Site”
16. “All Falls Down”
18. “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”
19. Rihanna’s “Diamonds (Remix)”
21. “Black Skinhead”