I had no idea what to expect heading into Madison Square Garden this afternoon to pick up my ticket for Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 show/The Life of Pablo listening session at Madison Square Garden.
Tidal, which livestreamed the show, was generous enough to extend an invite to me, which I figured meant I would sit and watch Kanye and the models alongside everyone else with a ticket. As it turns out, I was given the same pass that members of the crew working the event were given -- allowing me to essentially roam free anywhere in the arena. I eventually found my way backstage, where celebs were hanging, models were getting ready and, ultimately, I took in the show in from the floor, mere feet from Kanye.
There will be plenty of time to talk about and dissect the music, and one listen in a loud stadium isn't going to do the album justice. One thing was obvious, though: the energy on the floor was electric, and it's not everyday you experience a Kanye West album like this. Here's just some of what I observed listening to the album and watching the show backstage, among Kanye's collaborators and some of the biggest names in music and pop culture.
Jay Z was standing about two feet away from me for the first song, "Ultra Light Beams," and threw his black hoodie over his head and nodded hard to Kanye and Chance the Rapper. He had that I'm-Really-Feeling-This-Shit screwface on. Also, Jay, sorry I was so close when I took this pic.
What was everyone looking at to my right, I wondered? So I walked over, and found Jaden Smith in the crowd, fully engulfed in the music. Soon after, I realized people were probably looking a few rows ahead of him, where the Kardashian/Jenners were sitting, along with 50 Cent, Lil Kim and others.
During the brief time I stood in this spot, it became clear Kim knew a lot of the words. Also, Kylie rapped that, "Only problem is I'm rich" part of the line about Ray J: "He might have hit it first/ Only problem is I’m rich."
Wale, A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz all donned fur, properly dress for the New York winter. Wale said, not surprisingly, that he's very excited for Wrestlemania.
Frank Ocean looks to be growing out his hair. He also looks like he's dropping new music soon (I donno -- the power of positive thinking guys!).
He and Chance were talking and I was daydreaming about a collab between the two. Chance was also elated to see Joey Bada$$.
Speaking of Joey, after he and I chatted for a minute, he jumped on a speaker, was told to get off by a security guard, got off, and jumped right back on. That's some A1 Bada$$ery.
Super Bowl MVP Von Miller told me his favorite Kanye album is Graduation. Hard to argue that -- or more than a few others, actually.
Big Sean told me he's been working on new music. He also changed his number, which he hasn't done since I first met him back in 2010 -- which is wild to think about, given his level celebrity.
NBA player Nick Young (better known as Swaggy P) is just as warm as everything about his public persona indicated he'd be. He said he was just there for the night to enjoy the event (his Los Angeles Lakers played in Cleveland last night). I unfortunately did not tell him that last year I named my fantasy basketball team after him and Iggy Azalea.
Not sure if these were extra, or the models hadn't put them on yet. I took this around 3:45, about 15 minutes before the show was supposed to start (it didn't start until closer to 4:30)
A security guard told me that this had been on their calendar for "some time" -- meaning, not surprisingly, that the wheels were in motion for this long before the public ever found out. An usher also told me that this was the "most bizarre" thing he'd seen at MSG, and had been working there for years. He was referencing the set up -- all the models under the tarp on the floor.