Here’s What You Missed Inside Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Show Yesterday
Run-ins with Jay Z, gawking at North West's fur — the night had no shortage of thrills
Shortly after 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, Kanye West dimmed the lights at New York’s Madison Square Garden and premiered his new album, The Life of Pablo, alongside his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show. Though TIDAL graciously streamed the entire event for those not lucky enough to be in attendance, SPIN snagged a spot mere feet from Kanye’s DJ booth. Here are the wildest moments that went down in the arena that weren’t streamed at home.
- The celebrities in the house were of the highest caliber. Seriously — think of a famous person. Think of another. Both of them were likely at Yeezy’s House of Worship yesterday afternoon. Though obviously the largest New York Fashion Week event in terms of sheer grandeur, West’s listening party also happened to draw the kind of star power that next week’s Grammy Awards could only hope for. Anna Wintour, Charli XCX, Busta Rhymes, Caitlyn Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Jennifer Hudson, 2 Chainz, Wale, and countless more filed into the arena for Pablo’s unveiling.
- Lamar Odom turned up. In his first major public appearance since his hospitalization and subsequent months of reported rehabilitation and recovery, the ex-basketball player was met with cheers when he turned up not, as it happens, by the direct side of his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian, but next to Yeezy himself, the two grinning, slapping hands, and hugging it out before Odom took his seat.
- Jay Z snuck in at the last minute. About a minute before the house lights went down, Hov strode in with a small posse, planting himself directly next to SPIN on the floor, tossing his hoodie up over his head to remain inconspicuous. “You picked a good spot,” he said as the music started booming. Minutes later, when handlers ripped the giant tarp off the hundreds of models assembled in the center of the arena, Jay’s eyes lit up. “That right there was cool,” he remarked, nodding his head to the beat before moving to his seats several feet away.
- The celebrities in the seats weren’t the ones having the most fun. That honor goes to the ones who stuck it out with Kanye himself on the floor, turning up and mouthing along to the lyrics they’d been lucky enough to learn prior to the show. That included the rapper’s G.O.O.D squad — honorary (former) member Kid Cudi, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, bossman Pusha T, and creative director Virgil Abloh — as well as recent companions like Chance the Rapper (dancing like he’d never have the opportunity to do so again), Vic Mensa, Tyga, A$AP Rocky, and more.
- The Kardashians looked to be having a good time too. Even though West’s daughter, North, made an appearance early in the night, she was whisked away by a handler before the speakers started to blare — probably wise to shelter a baby’s ears from that. The noise didn’t stop wife Kim K and her sisters, Khloe and Kourtney (the latter of whom screamed every single word back at Kanye as he DJed), their mother Kris, and the rest of the Kardashian crew from turning up hard for their family member.
- But it seemed like nobody had more fun than Kanye himself. It was hard not to keep your eyes on ‘Ye as the afternoon unfolded, and it was even harder to fathom a time when he’s smiled wider or more frequently. Typical NYFW shows last no more than 20 minutes, but Kanye managed to hold the attention of not only the fashion elite but also the assembled 20,000 masses for more than an hour — and he loved it.
- The Life of Pablo probably sounds better on huge, Madison Square Garden-rattling speakers than it did through a wonky live-stream. Without a doubt, Yeezus is a seething, aggressive record suited for cavernous spaces in which it can breathe; from what we heard on the ground, The Life of Pablo seems to be of the same mold. Though it was often hard to make sense of the record’s many features — Mary J. Blige’s vocals got lost in the staticky shuffle — some of the guest singers soared. The Weeknd’s ravaged howls on “FML” stunned the arena to a silence; a surprise Rihanna appearance on “Famous” brought grins to people’s faces. With its often tribal drumming and a refusal to adhere to typical chord or beat structure, the loud, urgent album felt like a masterpiece fit for the arena.
- Frank Ocean was there. Seriously, the bearded channel ORANGE singer is alive and seemingly well, striding past SPIN’s spot slowly, taking in the arena as someone quietly asked, “Who is that?” A fair question aimed at someone who’s removed himself from the public eye over the last few years, though his subdued vocals on the updated “Wolves” might mean we’ll hear a full Frank LP sooner rather than later — than again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
- Some of the models went seemingly off-script. Though it appeared to be part of the event at first, several of those assembled held their fists up at times, often in sync with Pablo’s lyrics about police relations in America. As the night went on, a small group of the show’s extras — decked out in Yeezy Season 3, of course — moved slowly towards Kanye’s DJ booth, fists in the air, while others sprawled out on the ground in a powerful statement proclaiming solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Kim didn’t look bothered by some of the album’s more unsavory lyrics. That is to say, West’s wife put on a good face while listening to lines mentioning Taylor Swift and some bedroom acts (ahem: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous”) as well as Kim’s ex-boyfriend (and former sex-tape partner) Ray J. For a rapper so often criticized for his perceived misogyny, his wife’s public perception of said persona remained utterly unfazed.
- “Freestyle 4″ elicited the biggest reaction from the crowd. With Kanye dropping acoustic rhyme after rhyme about — who else? — Kanye, everyone in attendance was hooting and clapping and laughing with the rapper for a change. It’s the clearest example of a public figure leaning into their reputation while simultaneously flipping naysayers off in a single gesture.