Kanye's Governors Ball show ended a very muddy three days of music on New York's Randall's Island, playing never-before-heard songs in front of -- and sometimes in the middle off -- an eager crowd on Sunday.
West had the air of an athlete fresh from an offseason spent getting ready, as a new hunger underscored the performances of even his oldest hits. After a jumbotron trio of barking, gnashing dogs, West emerged to perform "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves," the two songs he has already debuted of the forthcoming album "Yeezus" (June 18, Def Jam). "New Slaves" sounds crystal clear live, shaking the ground beneath the crowd. As it turned out, he actually bookended the show with "Black Skinheads -- it was the last track he played.
Kanye West - "New Slaves" (at Governors Ball)
Wearing a black leather jacket with studs (an outfit that later morphed into some sort of firefighter-esque getup), West then walked a long platform into the audience, where he remained for the duration of the show. A clip of another new tune followed "New Slaves," but was quickly dropped in favor of "Mercy" and "Way Too Cold." Then an acid house-like new track emerged, with an 8-bit beat that gave way to the following clip:
This song appears to be called "On Site." Watch a video of the full track:
A few tracks later, with visuals that indicated a runway, West busted out "I Am A God," a thumping track that sees 'Ye yelling amid boasts like "I just talked to Jesus, he said, 'What's up Yeezus? I said, "Shit, I'm chillin', trying to stack these millions.'" Despite the grandstanding, "I Am a God" seems more lighthearted than "New Slaves" or "Black Skinhead" -- take a peek below.
After another set of new visuals (this time, aerial footage of vintage Navy jets) and a spirited performance of "Clique," West admitted that the part of the show "where I start complaining about shit" had arrived. "Just justifying sh-t," he said. "But you know what I is. I'm just happy to be making music and happy to be performing for you all. You know for this album, we didn't drop a single to radio, we ain't have no big NBA campaign, we don't even have a cover. We only made real music."
"Back then we used to go work on an album for like 5 months, then we'd come back and wait for the label to pick the perfect time to release it," he continued, digging in. "When you listen to radio, that isn't where I want to be any more. And, honestly, at this point, I could give a f--k about selling a million records. I'll drop it when I want and I'll sell more records. Because at this point, I don't really care about outside opinions. The only thing I care about is my clique."
From there, West launched into "Don't Like" and "Good Life" before dropping a new track that introduced reggae-style vocals over an elastic, thumping beat that sounded -- and felt -- like a thunderous, bouncing ball:
"Y'all f--k with that new sh-t?" West inquired before taking fans back with "All Falls Down" and his usual interpolation of the intro to "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" into his remix verse from Rihanna's "Diamonds." This time, he chopped up his verse into enough segments for a full track, absolutely belting the chorus along with Rih's backing track.
It's unclear which new songs (aside from "Black Skinhead") were given the Daft Punk treatment, but a number of them certainly fit the bill, as West blended hip-hop's aggression with the best of electronic music. All in all, West seemed more playful and free with the crowd than he did during the New York stop of his "Watch the Throne" tour with Jay-Z, a private show for Samsung and a recent performance at the AdultSwim upfront. He delivered a show that had a very tired and mudcaked crowd bopping along for well past the 11 p.m. festival curfew (though he did start about 20 minutes late).