upper waypoint
Kanye West at 'Yeezy Season 3' at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016.  Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Kanye West at 'Yeezy Season 3' at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016.  (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

A Letter From 'San Fran' to Kanye West, cc: Everybody

A Letter From 'San Fran' to Kanye West, cc: Everybody

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

“I’ll go out and meet with everyone in San Fran and they’ll dis the f-ck outta me!”
— Kanye West, Feb. 11, 2016

Oooooohhhhhhh you don’t know the half of it, Kanye.

I mean, sure, any grand premiere by you is sure to leave viewers shellshocked by inanity — so much that whatever tatters of your once-thriving musical genius remain are, like, buried completely. But today’s Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden, debuting a new collection of torn sweaters and an aggressively mediocre new album, called — I’m serious — The Life of Pablo?! I know you love your outsized id on majestic display, but come on, how much more scattered, crass, hypocritical and exhausting can you get from here?

A model wearing Kanye West's new collection at Yeezy Season 3, Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016.
A model wears Kanye West’s new collection at ‘Yeezy Season 3,’ Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016. (Lukas Wassmann/@kanyewest)

Look, you’ve got 20,000 paid fans in the building. You’re livestreaming all over the world. You’ve got dozens of models dressed in your burlap whatever-the-hell-it-is. ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE PUTTING IN TIME AND SWEAT AND ADHERING TO YOUR DEMANDS. And you waltz in the room playing second fiddle to a pile of tittering cotton balls and a scripted Made-for-TV-E!-Online-TMZ-Perez-Hilton-Every-Stupid-Tabloid-Ever moment walking Lamar Odom up to his seat with Khloe? And you open a laptop to play an album that seems like it was finished 10 minutes before showtime? You rehearse nothing, because hey, I’M KANYE, I JUST GO FOR IT?

This wouldn’t hurt so much if it weren’t for your past glories. Your most recent was your most glorious. Even your lack of filter was once a great thing. You issued uncensored the thoughts that most of us were too scared to say; you said things we found especially refreshing for a celebrity to say. But “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” eventually gave way to “I made it so we could wear tight jeans” which gave way to, a-f’ing-hem, “BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!” And you’re calling this a gospel album.



'The Life of Pablo' cover art.
‘The Life of Pablo’ cover art, apparently.

That leads us into the Taylor Swift lines, and the Ray-J lines, which are a guaranteed media distraction from this album being phoned in and which I’m sure are being blogged about as we speak — of course they are, you knew they’d be. Drake’s instantly gif-able dance moves, Kanye’s instantly “OMG LOOK WHAT HE SAID!” lines = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, buddy. You know what? There’s a guy in my neighborhood that walks down the street shouting at himself too. No wonder Michael Jordan didn’t want to come.

Seriously, how does one go from “artists can’t be controlled by corporations” to 10 seconds later shilling for Adidas? Leading chants of “F-ck Nike”? Thanking Adidas for helping make your dumb overpriced shoes the “number-one Christmas present”? Did no one tell you that the only thing dumber than fashion is being bought by a global corporation and pretending it’s freedom?

And this album: Man, you tried. You got Chance to hop on the first track to continue his whole your-Grandma’s-favorite-God-lovin’-rapper thing. You got Frank Ocean to come back from the dead. You got Rihanna and Thug and the Weeknd and Dream and Metro Boomin and I’m pretty sure I heard Whitney Houston singing about the Lord in there. All that’s exciting. But in the service of what? To interpolate “This Little Light of Mine” minutes before talking about bleached anal? To sample Sister Nancy from one of reggae’s great female-empowerment hits in the same song as “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex”? To fantasize about strapping a GoPro on; “unswallow”ing; Joseph meeting Mary in a club; going at it on the kitchen table? You really think you made Taylor famous? Bleeeagghagahgahagh.

The set at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016.
The pre-show set at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 11, 2016.

But oooooohhh, he’s talking about the Lord! He’s throwing in a completely obligatory and totally vague reference to putting hands up for cops! He says “pray for Paris”! He’s sad about his mom, still! He’s pretending he’s Oprah giving away fur coats! He’s saying that bloggers don’t get laid! Haw, haw!

The worst part is that maybe parts of this album are good. “FML,” damn — it’s, like, on par with “Runaway” or “Hold My Liquor” in the epic department. We knew “Fade Away” was a floor-killer, and at least “Real Friends” passes the Whodini test. But the rest of this jumbled mess? Gimme some time, but for right now, 30 minutes after that whatever-it-was at Madison Square Garden, it feels like homemade garbage.

You say you’ve been “thinking about your vision”; “pouring out your feelings”; “revealing the layers to your soul.” But you might wanna do some more thinking. Really. You might even wanna get out of the comforts of this tabloid-royalty fortress you’re in. It’s good for the soul. I know you have one left.

Only Total Chodes Call it “San Fran,”

lower waypoint
next waypoint
The Stud, SF's Oldest Queer Bar, Gears Up for a Grand ReopeningThis Sleek Taiwanese Street Food Lounge Serves Beef Noodle Soup Until 2:30 a.m.You Can Get Free Ice Cream on Tuesday — No CatchMinnie Bell’s New Soul Food Restaurant in the Fillmore Is a Homecoming5 New Mysteries and Thrillers for Your Nightstand This SpringThe World Naked Bike Ride Is Happening on 4/20 in San FranciscoA Lowrider Cruise in Honor of Selena, the Queen of Tejano, in San FranciscoHow Low Key Became the Coolest Skate Shop in San FranciscoBest Bets for the 2024 Healdsburg Jazz FestivalSol Blume Festival Postponed Until 2025