Kanye West continued his G.O.O.D. Music rollout in the weeks following the release of Pusha-T’s Daytona and Ye, which the superstar rapper debuted last week with an exclusive listening session in Wyoming that brought out media and celebrity.
For his joint album with Kid Cudi, titled Kids See Ghosts, West followed suit with a mysterious invite sent out a day prior that guided attendees to show up at a parking lot in Hollywood a few hours prior to record release. While lines stretched for over an hour, buses arrived in destination to Santa Clarita, with a few straggling behind in traffic for several hours.
The festivities waited. After going through metal detectors, guests were treated to a ranch-style cookout, where BBQ was offered at turns and bars supplied Hennessy. The area was widespread and open, an analogue to Wyoming with grills and bars at every turn. Familiar faces abounded: SNL actor Pete Davidson smoked a joint as Ariana Grande, ponytail in tow, hugged him tightly. Courtney Love was locked in conversation with Kim Kardashian; Lil’ Dicky, Lena Waithe, Lizzo, Pete Wentz, Joshua Jackson, Travis Barker, Zane Lowe, YG, Makonnen and Desiigner mingled about, as influencers dined on cookout spanning collard greens to hamburgers.
The setting was particularly special. Exclusive merchandise including hats and sweatshirts were passed out to those lucky enough to cash in on supplies, which ran out after a few hours. Mountains dotted the skyline nearby, where the festivities—perhaps a concert, maybe an album listening for a record that was still being completed—took place.
By 10:30 p.m., hours after patrons arrived, the night reached its moment. But unless you were an employee of Wav, the app that West utilized to live stream his latest album Ye and now Kids See Ghosts, and a celebrity that could waive the security detail aside or a superfan who sleuthed your way in, the majority of those on hand milled in a wide dirt field, watching the listening event take place in squint’s sight. From afar, and through those who tweeted photos from the listening area, it appeared that West and Cudi gathered around a campfire, music blasting towards them, leaving the sound muddled and lifeless for the crowd. As the album played, the field emptied and buses slowly returned to Hollywood.
It was a questionable evening for West and the rollout for his series of G.O.O.D. Music releases. Gathering media and influencers in Wyoming last week to hear Ye, an album rumored to be worked on until the final moments, seemed particularly special given its exclusivity. Creating a unique listening experience is not a foreign concept for West, who once wrangled the industry at the Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City to watch stars fly as he premiered his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne.
But for those who came to hear the reunion of West and Cudi, unless you could push your way past the security guards blocking the entrance to the campfire, you may as well have been better off signing onto Wav at home and getting a much more intimate listen.