Kanye West returned to the stage on Thursday night (Dec. 9) for his first headlining solo performance since the final show of his Saint Pablo Tour in November of 2016, which landed him in the UCLA Medical Center. After squashing his longstanding feud with Drake in November, Ye also reunited with the OVO boss onstage for the first time in five years for the Free Larry Hoover Benefit concert at the historic Los Angeles Coliseum.
In true Yeezy fashion, the concert kicked off about 90 minutes after the initial projected start time of 8 p.m. PT to a roar from the thousands in attendance when the lights dimmed and the Sunday Service Choir walked the Coliseum steps in all-black attire. Kanye and Drake then emerged from the smoke at the top of the stadium and entered the coliseum like the tag-team champions at WrestleMania.
— Donda’s Place (@dondasplace) December 10, 2021
West put on a masterclass and used his setlist as a reminder for those who may have doubted him or forgot what he’s capable of as he inches toward the age of 45. He’s had the culture in the palm of his hand for nearly two decades and Thursday night was no different.
While he hasn’t hit the stage solo in five years, Kanye’s performance didn’t miss a beat when it came to his vocal stamina, remembering his lyrics and controlling the crowd. West is never someone to shortchange his fanbase when it comes to hosting live events and Yeezy and Mike Dean’s chemistry behind the boards shone through as if they were prime Tom Brady and Bill Belichick communicating on the gridiron in the midst of the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
Draped in the “Free Hoover” merchandise designed by Balenciaga which retailed for hundreds of dollars at the venue, the Chicago native kicked off his set with Donda‘s “Praise God” before moving into early classics from his discography that made the world fall in love with Ye such as “Jesus Walks,” “Gold Digger,” “All Falls Down,” “Touch the Sky” and Graduation‘s “Stronger.”
With the crowd now in a groove even on a brisk 50-degree night in L.A., West heated up with more from his bag of tricks including “All of the Lights,” “I Wonder,” “Black Skinhead,” “Good Life,” and “Say You Will.” The first musical olive branch extended to Drizzy came when Kanye covered the 6 God’s 2010 single “Find Your Love” which originally belonged to Rihanna and features production courtesy of Yeezy.
— No Jumper (@nojumper) December 10, 2021
Quite possibly the most memorable part of the performance came next when Kanye continued his efforts to win back his wife Kim Kardashian. West reworked a piano-driven outro to his 2010 anthem “Runaway” and changed lyrics directed at the mother of his four children, “I need you to run right back to me, more specifically, Kimberly.”
He then transitioned into his braggadocios “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” before passing the baton to Drake. Drizzy opted to don a “Free The Man Dem” baby blue hoodie and returned the favor to Ye by covering his Donda favorite “24” with an angelic croon. “Ye’s not finished, Drake’s not finished,” he sang.
— Brandon Blade (@brandonearmsmut) December 10, 2021
Instead of digging into his greatest hits catalog and making this concert feel like a Verzuz battle, Drake chose to perform records released during the pandemic or landing on Certified Lover Boy and test some out on the audience for the very first time. His set was headlined by tracks such as “Wants and Needs,” “Life Is Good,” “What’s Next,” “No Friends in the Industry,” the Kid Cudi-assisted “IMY2,” “Way Too Sexy,” “Laugh Now, Cry Later” and fittingly was finished off with the diamond-certified “God’s Plan.”
“I appreciate Kanye for having me up here tonight,” Drake added of the surreal scene that didn’t seem possible just months ago. “It’s important that we make this happen. When we were walking through the arches right there it felt like a dream. It felt surreal. It was something I always wanted to do being on stage with my idol as he’s running through one of the best catalogs in music, period.”
West returned to join Drizzy on stage following an outfit change and helped bring the show across the finish line with Donda standouts like “Hurricane” and “Come to Life.” He even threw fans a curveball with Yeezus‘ “Bound” but also brought them back a decade to The Throne with “N—-s in Paris.”
As far as predicting what the final record of the night would be, it’s highly doubtful anyone had “Forever” as the song of choice on their bingo cards. But yes, the 2009 track featured in LeBron James’ documentary — which originally served as a knighting of sorts with Drake receiving the stamp of approval from rap’s Goliaths — closed the lights.
Forever 🕊🦉 pic.twitter.com/FXlf02TNqH
— Donda’s Place (@dondasplace) December 10, 2021
While the duo might not be 100 percent in the clear as far as their rocky friendship goes, Drake and Kanye reuniting is undoubtedly one of the top moments in hip-hop of the year and nobody would oppose the pair of A-listers ever touring the nation together in the future.