Kanye West is nothing if not consistent. As the sole hip-hop headliner at this year’s Essence Music Festival on Saturday (July 2) night, he did not disappoint, offering up a visual feast complete with pyrotechnics, nearly two dozen dancers and elaborate lighting.
Broken up into three acts, West ran through more than 20 songs, ranging from tracks off his debut album to his most recent, ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.’
“It feels good to be home,” he told the crowd, who at their peak had spilled out of their seats and into every open aisle hoping for a closer glimpse. “When I say home, I’m talking about with my people. I been around the world… got into a little controversy here and there. Even though the media tries to lie to you every day I just wanna say I thank ya’ll for standing by me and supporting me even when they said my career was over.”
Never one to shy away from being candid, West made mention of his now infamous incident at the 2009 MTV Awards, which set his career into what many had written off as a downward spiral. “I had a little bit to drink that night,” he admitted amidst the audience’s cheers and laughter.
Perhaps the most interesting section of the show were the added props. Behind a backdrop similar to that of Greek statues and dancers, who went from wearing nude bodysuits to covering the stage with white fabric, West re-emerged in an all red suit to perform ‘Runaway’ with Pusha T.
Ending the night well after 1am, Kanye West soaked up the crowd adoration seemingly fueling him to push through his final piece: the dedication to his mother. “This show tonight and every show is dedicated to one special person,” he said before diving into ‘Hey Mama.’