Kanye West hasn’t released the video for his next single, “Good Life,” yet, but standing in the Palms’ Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, the picture of what it feels like to live good — heck, great — is painted perfectly before your eyes.
It’s 34 floors up, and on the outside balcony there’s a swimming pool (less than 3 feet of water, but a pool on your balcony is major stunting nonetheless). Part of the pool actually stretches over the side of the building and just hangs there (reinforced by steel and concrete, of course). You can see the entire strip for miles, and directly below is the Palms’ signature pool, where their famous “Ditch Fridays” event seems to be taken literally. There’s a sea of people in swim attire who definitely aren’t at work at this time, a little after 3 p.m. You’d be envious of the people down there if you weren’t in a place so immaculate.
The suite is two stories high and features a couple of bedrooms, one of which has a Jacuzzi tub that is connected to a bathroom, which is connected to another bathroom. That one has a shower and a flat-screen TV hanging on the wall, so you can watch while you wash (see “Kanye West’s Swank VMA Sky Villa At The Palms: Step Inside!”).
Downstairs, West’s band is preparing for its VMA performance in an area — yes, an area, not an actual stage. That’s how intimate things are going to be. West is one of a handful of acts who will entertain with a one-hour concert you can watch online during the show.
The string section, background singers and DJ A-Trak go over familiar songs such as “Jesus Walks.” Kanye is still a few hours from arriving. His schedule is tight, so everyone — from the people backing him on his set to the people putting his set together — needs to be on point.
When Kanye arrives a little after 8 p.m., his smile is huge. He greets Soulja Boy, who will also be performing during the VMAs, and immediately checks things out. Some of the walls feature the album artwork from Graduation.
“This lighting looks incredible, it’s very beautiful,” he tells the MTV staff. Now it’s time to get to work. He reveals a plan for his grand entrance. Even though this is just a rehearsal, he has a gleam in his eye like a little boy who is performing for the grown folk in his living room post-family dinner.
While rehearsing “I Wonder,” West seems to hatch an idea toward the end of the song. He stands over the piano and starts playing the keys.
“Do you know?” he sings, breaking it down.
The two background singers answer: “Do you know?”
“Do you know?” he sings back to them.
West’s mom and a few of his friends file in. After the song, he hugs them all.
A few songs later, Kanye takes off his red top, towels down and throws on a black T-shirt to rehearse “Barry Bonds.” As the song is winding down, he starts freestyling over the instrumental: “Why everybody so mad at me for?/ I wish I could be somebody else so I could talk about me more.”
Judging by the rehearsal on Friday, fans can expect no boundaries from Kanye’s VMA performance. Although the band is restricted to a small area, you’ll probably see ‘Ye rapping and entertaining all over the suite.
(Kanye West isn’t the only one warming up for Sunday — check out Britney Spears rehearsing her big comeback, Foo Fighters jamming with Cee-Lo and more, and Nicole Scherzinger and Lil Wayne trying out their sexy preshow performance.)
Wait — don’t cash out on the VMAs just yet! From Britney’s sultry comeback performance to the big winners, you saw it all — well, almost everything! Get yourself even richer with our wall-to-wall show coverage, party reports, videos and loads more at www.VMA.MTV.com. For reports, photos, video and much, much more from previous VMAs, dive into the VMA archives.