LAS VEGAS — On Saturday night, inside the Joint, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s intimate live venue and host to Rolling Stone’s 40th anniversary party, one of music’s biggest names — Mr. Kanye West himself — delivered what will go down as one of the most dynamic sets of this pre-MTV Video Music Awards weekend. The charismatic, self-proclaimed Louis Vuitton Don performed for a throng of thousands of fans and celebrity guests — including Pamela Anderson (the star of ’Ye’s “Touch the Sky” video), Britney Spears, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson, Nelly, Jermaine Dupri, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Ashanti and an alcohol-monitoring-bracelet-less Eve (see “Eve Celebrates Release From Alcohol-Monitoring Bracelet With Rousing Vegas Set” ).
But aside from working up a fierce sweat, West also spoke his mind during the concert, as he’s prone to do, expressing his utter disappointment at not being asked to open tonight’s big show at the Palms Casino Resort — an assignment, instead, given to Spears (see “Britney Spears Rehearses For The VMAs — Watch The Video!” ).
Toward the end of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” the first single from the last in his educational-themed LP trilogy, Graduation (due in stores this Tuesday), West lashed out at Spears and wondered why he wasn’t approached to kick off the VMAs.
“I can’t believe she would perform/ She hasn’t had a hit record in years,” he freestyled, sublimating the song’s true lyrics with his off-the-cuff rhymes. He then referred to last year’s VMA opener, Justin Timberlake, and rapped, “I gotta get my money right/ Or maybe I gotta get my skin white.” After the song died down, he joked — in a high-pitched voice — “That’s one angry black man.”
The crowd, which also included Shar Jackson, Peter Bjorn and John, Joe Simpson, David Banner, Ryan Cabrera, Boys Like Girls, Chamillionaire and Sean Kingston, broke out in laughter just before West revealed special guest T-Pain and broke into “Good Life,” which Pain followed up with “Buy You a Drank.”
With a 13-piece orchestra situated behind him, West was the consummate performer, bouncing and shimmying across the stage like Fred Astaire on speed, slapping the outreached hands of his adoring audience. He opened the set with “All Falls Down,” and before diving into “Jesus Walks,” he commented on Rolling Stone’s current cover, which portrays an intimidating standoff between West and 50 Cent — who also releases his album, Curtis, on Tuesday. The ever-modest West said he believes that in the mag’s storied history, this latest cover is the best, hands down.
What looked like a road map of veins plastered ’Ye’s sweat-drenched forehead, as he spit out the lyrics to “Second Semester,” which inspired full-on fist-pumping by the undulating mob before him. There wasn’t an idle derriere in the house for West’s latest hit, “Stronger,” and that didn’t change during the next song in his set, “Touch the Sky.”
Then, just when everyone in the packed-to-the-gills venue thought the show was over, the unmistakable voice of actor Jamie Foxx shot out of the club’s speakers. Foxx ran out onstage, started a “KANYE WEST, KANYE WEST” chant and urged the audience to applaud “the best MC in the mother—-in’ game,” which elicited a response not typical of West: embarrassment. He also informed West he’d be buying 3,000 copies of his Graduation disc on Tuesday, in hopes it’ll help him outdo 50.
Then Foxx began crooning the opening lines to West’s “Gold Digger.” At this, the audience erupted in a frenzied chorus of cheers and screams and sang along with West through the entire track. And when it was done, so was Kanye. With Foxx’s right arm draped around his neck, the two walked offstage, and the curtain fell.
West had delivered once again.
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