NEW YORK — Kanye West brought his School Spirit
Tour to Pace University's tiny Schimmel Center for the Arts on Thursday
night and performed with the dynamism of a stadium headliner.
Even though he's exceeded the platinum plateau and has hits on the
radio and television, West is still not satisfied. He feels his debut,
College Dropout, should have been permanently marked with a
magazine's classic certification, namely The Source's five-mic
rating, when it was reviewed earlier this year. West has it all wrong,
though. If you ask the people who have been packing his shows the past
couple of months, they'll tell you College Dropout is a classic
— one of those rare albums that can be appreciated live, and any
of its songs will move you no matter where they're played in the set.
As always, West used up-and-coming singer John Legend — look out
for him, you'll be talking about him before you know it — to act
as a point man and warm the Pace University crowd up. Sitting at the
piano, Legend played the keys and sang an original tune called "Used to
Love You." "I'm good, I really am," Legend said. "May-be, I should rob
somebody," he sang. "So we can live like Whitney and Bob-beeee!"
After Legend's selection, the instrumental for Jay-Z's "Takeover"
consumed the theater and fans started throwing up the Roc-A-Fella
Dynasty sign. West came out in a green polo shirt and blue blazer and
did some grandstanding — he was applauded loudly simply for
walking to the front of the stage and posing.
The rapping producer started his set with "Get Em High" and "Two
Words." "Yo, two words, Chi-town, South Side, worldwide, 'cause I rep,
'til I f---in' die," he rapped on the latter cut, keeping most of the
The Schimmel Center, which held only 400 fans, made for a setting
so intimate that Kanye could touch people in the audience if he walked
a runway that was connected to the stage, and he could certainly see
the entire crowd from anywhere he was standing. He took exception after
peeping a crew of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members in the front row
who had the audacity to sit down while he was ripping. He half-jokingly
asked security to replace them with the people in the balcony who were
on their feet if the women did not do likewise.
He did not have to wait long. Violinist Miri Ben-Ari came out and
started playing her part on "The New Workout Plan." That record, a
favorite especially with females, made the lethargic spectators rise to
their feet and join everyone else in the festivities. Ben-Ari continued
to show her grace with the strings as she performed a medley of cuts
such as Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks," Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder,"
Jadakiss' "We Gon' Make It" and Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin'
West then took the floor again, telling everyone he was going to play a
song and if they didn’t like it, "Don't say sh--." The fans were very
vocal, however, after they heard a few notes of "All Falls Down."
Syleena Johnson came onstage to help with the chorus while everyone
sang along: "I'm telling you all, it all faaalls dow-owww-owwwn."
The Pace students kept their vocal cords pulsating during "Slow Jamz"
— so much so, Kanye threw the mic cord over his shoulder and let
his followers do the work for him. "I'mma bring the Cool Whip, then I
want you to strip/ See you is my new chick, so we get our grind on,"
they yelled. West came back in and gave an extra verse that's not
featured on the album: "Said she had friend looking like Janet Jackson/
Came over, she was looking like Freddie Jackson," he rapped.
Later West brought out GLC and Consequence for "Spaceships," and all
three did a synchronized dance involving a move similar to the A-Town
Stomp that included spinning. The most personal cameo, at least for the
Pace students, came via "School Spirit." He brought up all those girls
who were acting too cute to stand up earlier in the show to perform
their sorority's line-dance. "AKAs step, AKAs step, AKAs step."
The energy level stayed high as the tempo was turned up on "Jesus
Walks." West introduced a new dance of the same name that looked like
cross between a drunkard stumbling out of a club and the Elvis Presley
shuffle dance that the King used to do. At the beginning of "Last
Call," fans started singing the "La, la, la, la" intro too fast and
West had to tell them to take it easy. "Slow down, y'all," he said,
laughing. "Y'all going 'Lalalalalalalala!' "
In between raps, while John Legend played at the keys, West mixed music
and message like some tenured singers do. "People come up to me and
say, 'You got robbed,' " West told the crowd. " 'You should have got
five mics.' I tell them, 'Yeah.' "
Well, Kan, all you really need is one mic — the one that allows
the fans to hear you.
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