Fashion has never really been my bag. What little I know, I’ve learnt through music, predominantly Hip hop lyrics. Phoebe Philo, Alexander Wang, Anna Wintour – to you these are revered artists and designers, to me these are rhymes and punchlines. In fact, if you asked me to name a model, the best I can do is to recite you the first verse of 'Christian Dior Denim Flow'. So you can imagine my excitement and curiosity when I happened upon tickets to Yeezy Season 3. Was this a fashion show? Or a concert? Was I going to be in my own domain or totally out of place? Has Kanye completely lost the plot as his twitter feed would have us believe? And if so, is he still capable of making the same quality of music that has seen him release 7 (SEVEN!) classic albums in a row? …Blimey.
The first wave of being in over my head came before we even got to our seats. Sneaker game x 100. Kids trotting in one by one donning every style of Yeezy Boosts ever released, like some kind of military issued footwear. Ye's Army.
For the next 60 suspenseful minutes, crew members curiously waved aloft a massive black tarp that covered the entire floor of the arena. Remember that game you played in kindergarten where all the kids would grab the multi-coloured parachute around the edges and wave it up and down? (How good was that game!?) Until finally the man of the hour emerged and nonchalantly wandered around the floor of the arena. Flanked by the homies Pusha T and Lamar Odom, Yeezy stopped to greet his family (Kardashians by the dozen covered in white fur and diamantes) before taking his place behind a soundboard. He then literally pulled out his personal laptop and plugged it in to the system, announcing to the crowd that he was going to press play on the new album.
After the first track – an absolute blinder featuring a fire verse from fellow Chicago-native Chance the Rapper – the aforementioned tarp was ripped away to reveal art director Vanessa Beecroft's creation. Two tall podiums with 25 models standing perfectly still on each. Each wearing a different look. What made the visual so powerful was the few hundred other models that stood below the podiums wearing what looked to me like rags, but just as easily could have been Yeezy clothes too. For the remainder of the show the models stood completely still, seemingly lifeless, constructing a zombie-like backdrop for the music.
After the show someone tweeted the hilarious list of rules the models were given which included: NO SLOW MOVEMENTS and NO FAST MOVEMENTS among others. Shout outs to Naomi Campbell who doesn't play by the rules, happily frolicking around the podiums while the lifeless others concentrated on NO SEXY POSING.
After playing out the closing track ‘Wolves’ (featuring the sweet vocal stylings of your boy Franky Ocean), Ye addressed the audience and asked for feedback. A few times it looked like he was going to segway into one of his signature longwinded 'fuck the corporations' rants, but he never went fully in. I got the sense that he was relieved to have finally released the music and the show into the world, and maybe he was just a tad too exhausted to wax lyrical like we've seen him do too many times - thank god. Bizarreness then took a whole new meaning when he teased his latest wacky passion project.
Things then turned a bit awkward as Ye proceeded to pass around the aux chord to various other rappers so they could play some new music of their own. Kinda like when the drunk guy at the party gets the iPod and goes full 'DJ half-a-track'. Ye then announced that the plan was to stay there and keep 'partying' until Madison Square Garden's curfew, then promptly changed his mind and said his goodbyes. Before leaving, he let us in on a lifelong dream to be "the creative director of Hermés." I don't think this was aimed at me so I hope Hermés was in the audience.
Most of my pre-show questions remain unanswered (check the intro yo), except the last and most important. While Kanye flaunts his arrogance and sheer ridiculousness more than ever, the music continues to speak for itself. I’ve tried not to harp on about the record in this piece, partly because I wanted it to be a review of the show and partly because I’ve only heard it once through. But make no mistake, Kanye has produced another classic. The Life of Pablo draws on all Ye’s strengths: seamless and soulful sample-based production; bringing out the best in his collaborators (and they run DEEP on this one); and delivering punchline after punchline with the quick-witted cheek he has become known for. I’ve been out-Kanye’d and out-New York’d, but I feel closer to understanding the meaning of luxury rap. And there is something kind of special about hearing the world’s first play of a significant album with 20,000 New York fashionistas.