Kanye West Review Kanye's Hollywood Bowl 808s & Heartbreak performance [LA Times]

Started by gorealsteady, Sep 29, 2015, in Kanye West Add to Reading List

  1. gorealsteady
    Posts: 12,696
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    gorealsteady heal & create

    Sep 29, 2015
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    Kanye West at the closing ceremony for the 2015 Pan American Games at Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 26, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)
    http://www.latimes.com/entertainmen...eak-at-the-hollywood-bowl-20150926-story.html

    Review
    Can we talk about Kanye West's uncharacteristically endearing '808s' show at the Hollywood Bowl?
    Lorraine Ali contact the reporter
    It took nothing less than an orchestra, a vocal ensemble and 70-plus dancer-performers to bring Kanye West’s most stripped-down album to life at the Hollywood Bowl.

    Dressed in an all-white tunic and desert-trek boots (gear that suggested he was prepared for a journey through rough terrain), West opened his performance of the album “808s & Heartbreak” with the haunting “Say You Will.” His voice slightly shaky and unsure, he focused on the orchestra and backing singers, only occasionally making eye contact with the crowd.

    The usually overconfident artist was nervous. It’s not easy, after all, to choreograph one’s inner demons into an entertaining stage show.

    The rapper, 38, was resurrecting the most personal, painful and ultimately influential record of his career, perhaps hoping to recast history.

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    Caption Kanye West at the Hollywood Bowl
    Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
    Kayne West, left, performs "Heartless" with Kid Cudi from his 2008 studio album "808s & Heartbreak" at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 25, 2015.

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    “808s & Heartbreak,” released in 2008, chronicles the sudden tragic loss of West’s mother, a messy split with his longtime fiancee and the pressure of dealing with it, all in a spotlight that had followed him since those unscripted comments at a Hurricane Katrina benefit (“George Bush doesn’t care about black people”).

    Rather than rap against hard beats as he had on his previous three albums, West dropped the armor and sang on “808s.” He Auto-Tuned his shaky voice into one part melodic depressive and one part unfeeling cyborg, dropped in lyrics about deception, alienation and loneliness, then pitted it all against the stark buzz and clank of 1980s synthesizers (the number 808 refers to one such drum machine).

    The result is a record that captures the detachment — and ultimate numbness — that comes with feeling too much.

    At his Bowl opening Friday, the first of two nights, West did his best to recapture the nihilism, vulnerability and ultimate redemption that has since made “808s” one of the more influential albums in rap (without it, Drake, the Weeknd and Frank Ocean might not exist).

    Much like the rapper himself, the production was a mix of attention-grabbing bombast and biting realism, filled with austere beauty and high school melodrama.

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    Usually a man of many words, West said relatively few as he concentrated on performing the album in its entirety. He moved carefully from number to number, pouring himself into songs such as “Welcome to Heartbreak” as women in white, ghostly shrouds orbited the stage in a slow march that resembled a sort of pilgrimage. The artist’s demeanor was somber in contrast to his recent frenetic set at the FYF Festival or his made-for-social-media ramble onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards. At the Bowl, however, West’s reservations rendered him uncharacteristically endearing.

    The performer gradually became more animated with each number, which corresponded with the album’s tonal shifts. Young Jeezy and Kid Cudi joined him onstage at intervals (as they did on the album), bolstering West’s confidence as he embarked on songs that likely brought back times he’d rather forget.

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    By “Love Lockdown” and “Paranoid,” at least 60 shirtless men — all of color, all rubbed down in white powder — stood behind West on a stage-set of stairs. The glowing white lights above turned red, reflecting his increasingly impassioned delivery. The cast of men dispersed into the crowd, roaming the aisles as if human embodiments of West’s restlessness.

    In pure Kanye fashion, though, these raw moments were matched by the melodrama we’ve come to expect from a man who’s showing his line at New York Fashion Week one moment, posing for the paparazzi with his Kardashian bride the next (and all in the wake of his VMAs announcement of a presidential bid).

    Onstage, he likened the emotional impact of receiving bad news, in his song “Bad News,” with the violent act of being gunned down. The sounds of gunfire cut through the song, then West fell to the stage floor, writhing in an over-the-top display of pain. It was proof that no matter how big Kanye gets, he still isn’t afraid of appearing entirely immature, if not embarrassingly nerdy.

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    Reexamined: Kanye West's game-changing '808s & Heartbreak'

    At the back of the Bowl, an angel-like figure looked down upon the venue, but the heavenly body was in fact a Hollywood star — Zoe Kravitz — who was disguised behind metallic face paint.

    For West’s final number, “Pinocchio Story,” he came out covered head to toe in burlap, face obscured, and moved around the stage in as if a puppet on strings. Ridiculous? Yes. And also great.

    Like West, the multi-faceted production came with flaws. Between numbers, there were odd pauses that appeared unplanned rather than designed to build tension. Prerecorded backing tracks occasionally wrestled with the orchestra. And the fireworks that were supposed to punctuate various high points in numbers seemed timed for a less complex sort of show, one that perhaps didn’t involve rappers syncing with string sections, marionette sketches and staircases to nowhere.

    West rolled with it, though, breaking character at one point to joke about the mistakes with the audience: “This is one of the best dress rehearsals, so excuse me. Best dress rehearsal I ever had.”

    It was one of the few times that West, who’s conditioned us over the years to expect his endless monologues, spoke directly to the capacity crowd. But clearly, he'd already connected with the audience. Most stood for the entire set, singing along to songs, watching West bring to life lyrics they had hummed for years.

    But nothing illustrated West’s penchant for emotion-fueled spectacle than the snow flurries he unleashed above the audience for “Coldest Winter.” The manufactured snow swirled gracefully as he sang about his mother’s death, its feather-like flakes making it halfway to the ground before they dissolved in the L.A. heat.

    It was West’s most wrenching performance of the evening. He sang, “Her love is a thousand miles away,” seated halfway up his staircase to nowhere, grappling with a past he still seems determined to overcome — no matter how complex the production.

    Twitter: @LorraineAli

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainmen...rts-kanye-west-heartbreak-20150913-story.html

    Reexamined: Kanye West's game-changing '808s & Heartbreak'
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    Kanye West at the closing ceremony for the 2015 Pan American Games at Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 26, 2015. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)
    By August Brown contact the reporter
    If nothing else, the name Kanye West means confidence.

    He's called himself a god while demanding faster croissant service in song, commandeered stages from Taylor Swift at the VMAs and Beck at the Grammys, married into the Kardashians, said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" at a live Hurricane Katrina fundraiser, and released a merchandise line sporting reappropriated Confederate flags. That's just a tasting menu of Kanye moments from the last decade (one to be updated pending his just-announced presidential bid).

    So it might perhaps be surprising that his next L.A. stop would be two nights at the Hollywood Bowl playing, in its entirety, the most provocatively miserable album of his career.

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    It shouldn't be, though. West's 2008 LP "808s & Heartbreak," with its mix of emotional devastation and frosty minimal electronics, has turned out to be one of the most influential albums of contemporary pop music. "808s" helped carve out space for wounded, sincere and avant-garde sounds that Drake, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean and a whole generation of artists would take up the charts and into the marrow of modern music.

    When West plays it in its entirety on Sept. 25 and 26, it will be a reminder that the rapper isn't just the leather-jogging-pants-wearing, free-associative pop culture villain that so many mistake him for. As his stark album cover implies, he's a songwriter of incredible heart, even when the air's s----d out of him.

    "808s" was a hard left turn for West in 2008. The year before, he released the multiplatinum smash "Graduation," which sported some of his most effusive, optimistic singles like "Stronger" and "Good Life." He'd demolished 50 Cent in a same-release-day sales war (coming just a hair short of a million copies in America its first week) and eclipsed his mentor Jay Z at the center of popular American hip-hop.

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    Then came the bolt of tragedy that would reshape his career. His mother, Donda West, died in November 2007 as a result of heart disease and what the coroner's report described as "multiple post-operative factors" after undergoing cosmetic surgery. At the same time, West split with his longtime partner and fiancée. In the span of a year, he was nearly unmoored from his family life.

    Aug. 20.

    That would be enough to send anyone down a black hole of mourning, but it sent West back into the studio. "808s" was recorded quickly and released in the thick of what he'd describe on record as his "coldest winter." The album, produced with pop and rap hitmakers like Jeff Bhasker and No I.D., is unabashed in its grief and disconnection. It's apparent in the sonics — the sub-bass of "Love Lockdown" pulsing like a bad memory, the "Blade Runner" synths of "Paranoid" and "Heartless" promising escape, all barely hiding vacancy and exhaustion.

    Most famously, West barely rapped on the album, instead singing through a slathering of Auto-Tune meant not to disguise his off-key singing but to underline it. West's presence on the album sounds like depression: a songwriter digitizing himself to distraction, nipping off too-big feelings before they render him catatonic. It was a cycle of studio tricks and primal fear; West fixed his mistakes in a way that sounded even more (purposefully) false than before.

    cComments
    • @Alex Gaston I believe--I hope--this is a playful commentary on the whole scene. Man, it BETTER be...
      TaiChi40
      at 7:43 PM September 20, 2015
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    West is not a gifted singer, but in 2008 he discovered something new with this tactic: In modern pop, a "vocalist" can sound like anything. Like the album's titular Roland TR-808 drum machine — a gadget once derided for its seeming inhumanity and later a staple of all pop music — inhumanity can make an artist go deeper. "I keep it low, keep a secret code / so everyone else don't have to know," West sings on "Love Lockdown." That's "code" like a computer language and "code" like the mystery of loss that he was just starting to unravel.

    Though the album eventually became a multiplatinum success, it wasn't a guaranteed hit at the time. Reviews were mixed, sometimes even hostile: "Here, the drear never lifts, and he never stops wallowing," wrote Rolling Stone in its initial review. "The full album is a dislocating listen," said Spin Magazine. "The musical structure overshadows his attempts at introspection."

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    None of that was completely wrong, but it failed to anticipate how resonant that sense of dislocation would be for a coming tide of pop music.

    Drake, the clearest beneficiary of the album's heavy-lidded pessimism, has spent nearly his entire career following West's template on this record. From the cocaine-stained veneers of The Weeknd's R&B after-parties, to James Blake and Frank Ocean's blank-spaced future soul, to underground acts like Evian Christ (later a West Collaborator) who s--- the serotonin right out of club music, the ideas behind "808s" still ring true.

    Kanye West is, right now, America's greatest pop star and an unmatched antagonist. It's easy to forget how rare that is. Go back a decade and imagine that West would both marry into reality TV's most transfixing vacant family and then release perhaps the most difficult, sonically abrasive album to come out on a major label in years (that would be "Yeezus," whose arty, base provocations may prove just as influential as "808s'" in time).

    "808s" marked his shift from a rapper and producer into something else, something entirely contemporary and unmatched by any artist at his tier of influence. In 2008, we hadn't heard sorrow portrayed quite like this, in all its mess and artifice and distance and clarity. We still haven't quite heard it like that since.

    This is a straight copy paste as i'm still reading things too. But make sure to read them ..and tell us what you think of it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
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  2. gorealsteady
    Posts: 12,696
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    gorealsteady heal & create

    Sep 30, 2015
    Bu-buh bump bump bump!
     
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  3. gorealsteady
    Posts: 12,696
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    gorealsteady heal & create

    Sep 30, 2015
    I ain't got the midas touch.. :emoji_cry:

    Teach me sensai.
     
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  4. CODEiNE DEMON
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    CODEiNE DEMON One foot stuck in the tarpit of my ways

    Sep 30, 2015
    "sensai"
     
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  5. Flacko
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    Flacko Too Blessed To Be Humble

    Sep 30, 2015
    Good read though. I've heard worse things though from people who went.
     
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  6. gorealsteady
    Posts: 12,696
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    gorealsteady heal & create

    Sep 30, 2015
    I think people worry too much about the technicalities and expect a smooth performance.. whereas i would soak in all the imperfections and errors.. because at the end of the day this performance is probably Kanye at his most vulnerable..
     
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  7. wroko
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    wroko You ain't gotta lie to kick it

    Oct 2, 2015
    Too bad they went to the first show. Second one was 10000% better. Positive review for Yeezy?? Wow!! Welcome to the world of
     
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