INGLEWOOD, CA—Love him or hate him, Kanye West proves that rap is unequivocally the new rock n' roll—as reminded to us in the recently announced lead single "Famous" off his critically-acclaimed eleventh studio album The Life Of Pablo.
On Friday night (June 24), thousands of giddy millennials poured out from their Ubers outside The Forum to sprint from the car door to the entrance to fulfill their fantasy of seeing the one and only Yeezus, resurrected for their gazing pleasure. A good majority of the crowd sported distressed jeans, Kanye tees, bomber jackets and Pablo hats—the seemingly official wardrobe of his devout worshippers. Ye's "Famous" viewing event was just minutes away from starting when his voice echoed throughout the venue's speaker system alerting fans of a 45-minute delay.
The reason? Heavy traffic en route to the show (such an LA excuse!).
Stepmom Kris Jenner and sort of brother-in-law Scott Disick were chatting away in a reserved seating section, which prompted the arena to stare in awe through their cell phone cameras as they snapped pictures and shouted, "We love you!"
A picture of a sunset (which would turn out to be a still frame from the music video) was displayed on the arena's theater screen with a countdown to the start of the show accompanied by a dramatic instrumental best suited for brainwashing; super fans passed the time waiting in mile-long lines to purchase Santa Claus-sized bags of merchandise from the gift shops.
"I made sure I ordered the merch with my ticket online so I would for sure get his new T-shirt," a relentless teen was overheard bragging to those unlucky enough to not have received their apparel yet. The blaring bass flushed through the Forum along with Kanye, who stepped behind the audiovisual booth to oversee final adjustments, along with a barrage of famous faces in tow.
Kim Kardashian West, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Tyga (!), Kris Jenner, Scott Disick, The Game, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, YG, Ty Dolla $ign and Desiigner (whose blend of exaggerated Dab and convulsive arm gestures generated a roar from the crowd and Kanye) all showed up, proving there was no other place in LA for hip-hop fans and Snapchat addicts to be in that moment. (Sorry, BET.)
Kim was taking her selfies and aimlessly blowing kisses. Kylie and Tyga (!) were whispering sweet nothings (or are they something again?) to one another. 'Ye and his squad of rap chart dominators conversed and hugged and conversed and hugged. Kanye's smile grew wider. Kanye's face went back to normal. Then wide again. The countdown above finally ran out.
It was like being in Times Square waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve. But with the amount of energy in this room, there was no way Kanye could drop the ball.
Glitchy noises erupted from the gigantic theater screen as images of naked bodies and nature elements flashed, culminating with Rihanna's effortlessly swagged-out vocals kicking off the titillating visuals.
"Man I can understand how it might be kinda hard to love a girl like me," she sings. "I don't blame you much for wanting to be free."
Nonstop screaming is a sure sign of Rihanna's mega-watt power, even if she wasn't physically there.
Artistic camera angles roll over some of pop culture's most famous faces in slow motion as harsh lighting overexposes their naked physicality, symbolic of their overexposure and glorification from modern media and millions of obsessive fans alike.
The same obsessive fans sitting in this very audience.
One-by-one, each celebrity figure is revealed, becoming more controversial than the last: Rihanna's breasts with her signature bird wings tattoo located where the underboob meets the rib cage.
Chris Brown's backside with even more tattoos.
Kanye. Kim's rotund derrier. Ray J.
Amber Rose topless. Caitlyn Jenner also topless.
A frail Anna Wintour laying next to Donald Trump's grandad bod. George W. Bush. A jarringly nude Taylor Swift.
And the grand finale... an unclothed Bill Cosby. A sight certainly impossible to be unseen.
The image was inspired by Vincent Disederio, meant to evoke the 12 disciples, but instead looked like a hedonistic Last Supper.
The song stopped but the video continued on with just the sounds of the subject's breathing and lightly snoring.
Most of the crowd fell silent forgetting to breathe themselves. Others cheered for or booed the celebs. I glanced back at the audio booth and Kanye gave Kim a long, passionate kiss to celebrate their Frankenstein experiment. Shit is weird.
Everybody began asking things like, "Was that really Taylor Swift's tits?" No. "Was that really Donald Trump?" No. "Was that Cosby's penis?" Um.
But their wax molds looked creepy enough to not eat anymore from the food vendors. For sure Kanye and Kim are real; and maybe even Amber and Ray J. Believable since they are the shameless four horse(wo)men of the social media apocalypse.
Thoughts in the moment: Are we stuck in "A Clockwork Orange" right now? Are we the victims of our own immoralities? Is Yeezus confirming his illuminati status?
The track beat dropped again and the crowd was brought out of sedation and back to a shallow self-awareness.
Kim went back to her selfies. Kanye's mouth went back to doing the on-and-off switch thing again. Everyone looked at each other like they were just mentally assaulted, but, hey, it made for a great Snapchat reaction.
Kanye grabbed the microphone and thanks his legion of 10,000-plus "moogs," those who worked on the short film and his famous posse. He ends the choppy speech with, "Who wants to do it all over again?" Eh, why not? We're already here. Repeat. Except the second time an overwhelming number of people commented on how perfect Rihanna's breasts were. Touché.
The remaining 20 minutes or so involved attendees focusing their phones towards Kanye in the booth as he and his elite fashion-forward squad sway and krump and Dab and, often times, just nodded to the sounds of their own radio hits. Desiigner had his moment with "Panda." 2 Chainz with "Watch Out." Each song good enough to make the wide-eyed, die-hard college bros dance but not enough to make them put their phones down.
The self-indulgent celebration came to a close signaled by Kylie whispering (still) to her mom Kris that she was going to get in the car (by the way, I'm really good at reading lips, and doesn't Kylie sound fun?). The reality TV Brady Bunch and their gang of hip-hop suitors followed. The crowd once again spilled out into the surrounding neighborhood while, ironically, a funeral service was letting out at the mortuary across the street. Patrons of both left their respective establishments teary-eyed; some mourned as others rejoiced, both of whom may have been saved on this night.
In Yeezus name we pray.
Watch "Famous" and some of the night's activity for yourself below.