I have been in a funk recently.
A combination of polar vortexes, power outages, women, binge-watching season two of House of Cards, and homework still undone has forced my consciousness way too far into my own head and the result is a rare breed of crazy that I have been living in for the past three weeks or so. Symptoms include general malaise, all-encompassing apathy, and an overuse of run-on sentences.
Don’t worry though guys, I’m going to be fine. I’m going to church today.
Well, sort of…
Even though I haven’t written in a bit, my love of Kanye and Yeezus has been well-documented throughout the course of this blog. When I left to spend my Fall semester in London I began a running list of things that I was going to miss out on due to the move. That list had four items:
- The Yeezus Tour
- Watching NFL games at a reasonable time in high-definition
- Made in America Festival
- Buffalo Wings
Upon my return Stateside and it was revealed that Kanye would extend the tour, I was sure that it had happened just for me. When I left to celebrate the Super Bowl with my pops in Las Vegas, I wrote that if I made out well with the gambling I would buy myself tickets to the show.
I still haven’t written an article explaining how much I FREAKIN’ KILLED IT at the Super Bowl due to the aforementioned funk. It’s coming, some time, maybe, I promise.
But you should know that Vegas treated me delightfully, and I made enough to go see Kanye West in Atlantic City tonight. I bought my ticket on Valentine’s Day while taking a break between episodes five and six of House of Cards at a friend’s house. I always know what I want for Valentine’s Day.
Related: if a girl ever gets us Kanye tickets for Valentine’s Day, she is probably the one.
I acknowledge this as a truth in my life, but why is that so? Where does this obsession with all things Yeezy stem from?
Is it in my blood? (Probably not.)
Is it a result of my environments? (Possibly, but usually I am the one pushing Kanye on my environment, not the other way around.)
Is it because Kanye West is actually a deity, or at least a prophet of some sort, whose tutelage I have decided, consciously or unconsciously to follow? (Maybe. There is like a 45% chance that this is actually what is happening.)
Wherever this love is coming from, I have a feeling that we can come to a better understanding of it by examining my relationship with Kanye from its humble beginnings and work our way through shared history. I’m inviting you to come along.
Live 8: July 2nd, 2005 – Philadelphia, PA
In seventh grade, Live 8 happened. I had a desire to go, driven by my father’s stories of attending the original Live Aid in Philadelphia and a growing fascination with music and large crowds of people. My Pops obliged, and we began our drive to Philly around 9:30ish am to get settled in. We were parked in an area that the Internet had told us shuttles would be taking people to the festival grounds. Upon arrival, the shuttles were nowhere to be found. So my Pops and I began to walk along the Delaware River, a trek that would’ve been about four miles if not for a miracle.
But then we got a miracle. Some tech or lighting guy that was working the show drove past us while driving in one of those Gator carts taking cables to the stage. He asked if we needed a ride. We hopped in the trunk. Our new friend brought us all the way to the entrance of the VIP area, a literal stone’s throw from the stage, before saying regretfully, “This is as far as I can take you.” If you reference the picture above, I was sitting on that statue right in front of the stage for the majority of the show.
It was insane. There were literally a million people standing behind me. The Kaiser Chiefs opened the show with “I Predict A Riot” and I went nuts.
There were other great memories from the show as well. Mast of Ceremonies Will Smith led the crowd in a rendition of the Fresh Prince theme song which was all sorts of dope. One of the Black Eyed Peas (I think it was Taboo) had problems with his microphone and left one of their call and response sections hilariously empty. Jay-Z still had a hyphen in his name and played on stage with Linkin Park because that was a thing in 2005.
But Kanye was special. I didn’t really know anything about him at the time. I had probably been shown “All Falls Down” in passing, but other than that I was clueless. I remember him stomping around stage a lot. More than anything, I remember him going into “Jesus Walks” and looking around the crowd. Everyone was throwing up the ROC. I had no idea what was going on, but immediately joined in throwing my diamond in the sky because I felt the vibe. I pretty sure my Pops still had his hands in his pocket.
It was my first introduction to the R.O.C. My life would never be the same.
Stevie Wonder closed the show with “Superstition” and I left Philadelphia with a newfound love for live music and the seed of Yeezy that would lay dormant for a few more years.
Glow in the Dark Tour: May 17th, 2008 – Camden, NJ
Smash cut to high school. Graduation is released and changes everything I thought about music, namely, that I could dismiss almost all rap music as inferior to rock because Pink Floyd was greater than everything. My friends and I know most of the words to most of the songs. “You got D’s Motherfucker D’s!” becomes our battle-cry even though none of us had seen Do The Right Thing. “Stronger” was instantly the most exciting song that came on at high school dances. I was hooked.
I bought eight tickets to Glow in the Dark Tour planning to get a group together. One of my good friends says he knows some people that would want to go, and before we discuss it further he has six friends that are taking the rest of the tickets for the show. All dudes. I didn’t mind that all that much, I had still never kissed a girl or anything. It was just a fact that I was aware of. There was a weird moment of contention between us for a second, but it worked out.
Something happened later where I had to hang outside the venue and drop off another ticket to another friend, which led to me missing Lupe Fiasco opening the show. In an odd Butterfly Effect scenario, this would end up delaying my love of Lupe (unbeknownst to me) another fifteen months. But I was inside the Tweeter Center in time to see N.E.R.D. open with “Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing In the Line for the Bathroom)” which was dope and got me asking “Who is the Pharrell guy?” 15 months earlier than my peers. So I guess that evens out.
Then Kanye happened. We were ready. Weeks earlier I had bought my very own pair of Shutter Shades for the occasion. This is still a picture that exists on my Facebook profile:
I was a cool kid. I swear.
So Kanye takes the stage and it’s wild. It was a one-man rock opera where Kanye only interacts with his female computer copilot as he travels the universe in his spaceship. He goes into “Flashing Lights” and me and one of my friends decide to go start dancing. At one point, a girl I am dancing with turns and starts making out with me. This will forever be my first kiss: Some (probably) drunk stranger whose name I will never know, during the second verse of “Flashing Lights” while wearing shutter shades. I remember being caught off guard and having to spit out my gum.
Tyler was becoming a man.
Anyway, back to the show – At one point, the spaceship crashes, and the computer notes to Yeezy that the only way to get back to Earth is to harness the power of “the brightest star in the universe.” As luck would have it, Kanye is the brightest star in the universe. He gets the spaceship going again, Lupe comes out to encore with “Touch the Sky” and everyone goes home happy.
Summerfest: June 30th, 2011 – Milwaukee, WI
Summerfest is the “World’s Largest Festival” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. In the summer of 2011, I decided to visit my friend Peter who lived in Wisconsin and also loved Kanye West. He said I should come to Summerfest so we could see Kanye together and I just said “Totally!” That was basically the full extent of the discussion.
My partner in Kanyre-related crime Matt Westlake and I got in my Saturn Wagon and drove for twelve hours through five states accruing two or three tickets on the way. We arrived to the amazing hospitality of the midwest, and proceeded to enjoy that hospitality in the form of beer and cheese.
Seriously, the cheese in Wisconsin is crazy good.
We planned to go to two nights of the festival, Kanye the first night, Girl Talk the second. We see Kanye and it is dope as expected. Some highlights were his inclusion of his “E.T.” verse and Kid Cudi coming out to sing “Make Her Say” with Ye. Also, he brought out all of the ballet dancers necessary to perform “Runaway” properly.
The next night, everyone drank a lot. Westlake got us to the concert safely, but the other three members of our car were down for the count. I stayed in the parking lot with them, ensuring that they stayed as hydrated as possible. As I was sitting with my back propped against the passenger’s side door of my friend’s car with two drunk friends laying on my lap, some strangers asked if everything was alright. I assured them that we were fine. He left me with two wood-tipped wine Black and Milds and a can of beer. I thanked him profusely.
Westlake came back, talking about the dopeness of the Girl Talk set. He was holding an extra-extra-large lemonade which he had purchased for five dollars. I immediately proceeded to accidentally knock it out of his hand. Or maybe I was taking a sip and just straight dropped it. I can’t remember for sure. But I bet Westlake can.
I still owe him for that lemonade.
We drove home from Wisconsin the next day. It took us sixteen hours. We stopped in South Bend, Indiana and went to the College Football Hall of Fame. Somewhere in Ohio, it started to storm one of those crazy summer storms. Westlake passed out. I drove the last six hours solo listening to Kanye West and some podcasts. We got home around 4:00am I think.
The next weekend some friends and I would take a trip to Brooklyn to see Sufjan Stevens. On the ride home, I pulled into my driveway and my car died before making it to the top. She was my first car ever and I loved her dearly. It amazed me that she was able to get my through two astounding musical pilgrimages before leaving this world forever. I think she knew how important they were to me.
I am still sad that Westlake and I didn’t take a picture with her before we started driving. It is the reason that I take more pictures now.
Watch the Throne Tour: November 11th, 2011 – Pittsburgh, PA
I was with Westlake the first time I heard Watch the Throne. We were driving in his car for some reason and he had burnt the CD. He was in the middle of “Otis” when he turned the ignition and I was enthralled. Then he skipped back twice and told me that this was the song that really mattered.
And I heard “Niggas in Paris” for the first time in my life.
I forget why we saw the show in Pittsburgh. Maybe Philly tickets were sold out. Maybe it was easy because he was at Penn State Altoona at the time. Maybe it was driven by the friends we had at UPitt that we knew were also going to the show.
I do remember playing NFL Blitz at Westlake’s apartment. And drinking some awful vodka before heading to the show.
And I remember the show. Two towers. One holding Jay Z. One holding Kanye West. Both rapping their hearts out and treating Pittsburgh like it was the most important city in the history of hip-hop.
They closed the show with “Niggas in Paris” five times in a row. I screamed every word every time.
Made in America Festval: September 1st, 2012 – Philadelphia, PA
I was super-excited when Jay Z decided he was going to bring a festival to Philadelphia. I always have defended Philadelphia as a great music city, and having HOVA host a festival simplified my argument significantly. I was fairly confident that Jay would bring Kanye out, as they had just finished up the Watch the Throne tour a few months earlier. Plus, it was known that Jay was featured on Cruel Summer which was due to drop in two weeks.
Kanye did come out, along with the entire G.O.O.D. Music crew. I was hearing new Kanye for the first time live and it was crazy. I was dancing to “Mercy” and “New God Flow” like a maniac. I had no idea how much I would end up loving those songs at the time, but in the moment they were inducing ecstasy.
Also, it was clear 2 Chainz was special as soon as I heard his verse on “Mercy” for the first time. Cruel Summer would carry me emotionally through what was not the best year of my life, and I am extremely thankful for it.
Revel Casino: December 30th, 2012 – Atlantic City, NJ
I would write more about this, but I have already written about it extensively, and I am at 2386 words already. But just know I was there when Kanye told the world that Kim was pregnant with Baby North, and it’s sort of the reason this blog exists.
Also, this was my introduction to “Masked Kanye” which is one of my favorite Kanyes that exists.
Read more here.
Governor’s Ball: June 8th, 2013 – Randall’s Island Park, NY
I would write more about this, but I have already written about it extensively, and I am now at 2436 words. Just know that Westlake and I had another great time and Kanye confirmed everything I ever felt about him.
Read more here.
So what does all of this mean?
Did Kanye directly affect my love of seeing huge shows and outdoor festivals while I was still an impressionable middle schooler? (Probably.)
Do I have some Freudian love for Kanye West due to the circumstances of my first kiss? (Possibly.)
Is the fact that I am seeing Kanye West for the eighth time in my life weird to a point that I should talk to my therapist about it? (No, but I do talk to my therapist about Kanye more than most people talk to their therapists about Kanye. I think.)
I think what it really gets back to is the idea of looking forward. There are a lot of things that I don’t like in the world, and even more that I think I like but am unsure of why I like them and which outside forces have contributed to my enjoyment of them.
But my love of Kanye West is between me and him.
And tonight I get to hang out with him again.
It’s going to be great.