Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. was a packed house last Wednesday as controversial, 21-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kanye West finally touched down to deliver a memorable experience. It was evident fans were nothing less than excited for what the night, West’s first solo tour since his 2008 “Glow in the Dark Tour, had in store for them. With it being my first time attending a Kanye West concert, it’s fair to say I was equally as excited.
It was just after eight when the lights went dim and out came Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop’s undisputed heavyweight and the only opening act. Dressed in a black tee, black jeans and a black and white flannel hoodie, the 26-year-old emcee swaggered to and fro as fans enthusiastically chanted the lyrics to his opening song, “Money Trees,” in unison with him.
Though he stands at 5’6”, Lamar possesses the stage presence of someone twice his height. If he demanded you to put your hands up, you put your hands up. If he said to put your cell phones in the air, you had better believe cell phones were waved throughout the air. Never missing a beat, Lamar went on to perform cuts from his highly-acclaimed, platinum-selling second studio album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” such as “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Compton,” “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” and more. As I’ve seen him do many times at previous concerts, Lamar ended his set with an intriguing song from his “Kendrick Lamar” EP titled “I Am.”
Anticipating a lengthy intermission since Kanye West has a bit of a reputation for arriving late, my counterpart and I cleared for the lobby to retrieve refreshments. Upon making our way back to our seats, we discovered that the stage producers had been moving quite quickly to set up ‘Mt. Yeezus,’ along with the accompanying backdrop. It wasn’t long before the lights went dim once more, causing concertgoers throughout the arena to whistle, stomp and chant with vehemence, “Yee-zus, Yee-zus, Yee-zus!”
Atop the ‘Mt. YEEZUS’ was a circular overhead screen with a moon backdrop that continuously flickered as the beat to his song, “On Sight,” dropped and West, casually as ever, began making his way to the front of the stage. Adorned with a gold chain around his neck, a loose-fitting black tee, baggy jeans and Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, West wasted no time tearing into his set. Aside from “On Sight,” he performed various tracks from his heavily talked-about sixth studio album, “Yeezus,” such as “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” “Send It Up,” and the ever-so controversial “I am a God.”
There were many times throughout his set where West threw himself onto the stage’s floor, all the while keeping the arena of thousands entertained. What specifically kept me intrigued, though, was the Maison Martin Margiela mask he sported while performing. During the second half of the concert, West broke into a rant where he expressed his thoughts on the media and how he believes that blogs, magazines and newspapers are out to make his fans hate him because of their negative portrayal of him.
As the end of his set rolled around, West finally ripped into older songs that made many of those in attendance fans in the first place. The highlight of the night was when he brought out a makeshift Jesus Christ prior to performing his hit “Jesus Walks.” While many felt that he took it a bit too far, others appeared to be in awe. West made it clear that when he refers to himself as God, it is only because God lives within himself and all of us as well.
“I only care about God and what he wants me to do,” he proclaimed.