Kanye’s Surprise Guest: Lupe Fiasco
The Chicago producer-turned-emcee's triumphant set was fueled by a live orchestra, and it featured fellow Chi-town rapper Lupe Fiasco.
The anticipation was palpable for one of the weekend’s most anticipated acts: Memorial stadium was sold-out, its onstage string section was illuminated, and thousands in attendance raised their hands making diamond formations for the night’s star, Kanye West.
His legions of fans couldn’t contain their enthusiasm. “I love him, he makes me shake!” exclaimed Sonja Christiansen, 22, of Seattle. “Kanye is the biggest artist to come to Seattle in a long time.”
Aside from his dedicated following, the story of the night was Kanye’s addition of a live orchestra, which was scored into each of his hits. Although the strings sometimes drowned out the rapper, no one seemed to mind, as “All Falls Down” and “Through The Wire” were greeted with riotous uproars from the 20,000-strong crowd. There were similar receptions for the all-strings renditions of both Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Verve “Bittersweet Symphony.” A usually loquacious Kanye had only one thing to say: “If that ain’t an ego boost, then I don’t know what is.”
What he termed “Memory Lane,” might be that boost, as the rapper ran through his hits as a producer with songs from hip-hop vets like Talib Kweli, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Twisted, and Dilated Peoples. He also gave a shout-out to those new to the game: “You know, there’s no bigger thrill in my life than to help out up-and-coming emcees,” Kanye said moments before fellow-Chicago rapper, Lupe Fiasco, appeared on stage, much to the audience’s surprise, to perform his current single, “Kick Push.” Kanye graciously shared the stage with Lupe, allowing him to perform two songs off his up-coming album, Food & Liquor.
When Lupe exited the stage, Kanye performed standout numbers of the set, “Gold Digger” and “Drive Slow.” “I Got A Woman,” the song by Ray Charles (Bumbershoot alum, 1983) Kanye samples for the former track, was blasted as the intro to “Gold Digger,” and the rapper needed no assistance of Paul Wall on the latter song, as the orchestra drove the screw’n’chopped number.
The most moving moment of the set came when the heavens opened up ever so slightly, offering a light rain for the rapper’s encore. During it, he played “Jesus Walks” and encouraged the crowd to “Listen to them strings! It’s like the concert version!” Lupe Fiasco was re-welcomed onstage for the night’s closing song, “Touch the Sky,” and, fittingly, it was at that moment the rains let up. JOSH SABROWSKY
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