Words by Scott Dubrow
Incredible. Spectacular. Revolutionary. These are only a few words that describe a truly indescribable concert put on by the one and only Kanye West. This past week Ye brought his talents to the Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay to change the game in the world of rap concerts. And change the game he did.
When I got down to the pit for the concert I did not know what to expect. I had heard that Kanye was experimenting with a new “floating stage” that was supposed to move around the arena as he performed, but I was unaware of the specifics. I positioned myself towards the back of the floor in hopes that the stage would move forward when the concert began.
After standing in place for two hours, anxiously waiting for Ye to appear, the lights dimmed, and the familiar guitar strings rang through the arena followed by “You’re the only power!” Bang. Father Stretch My Hand Pt. 1 blasted as the crowd went absolutely bonkers. I looked up during the pandemonium and thought to myself, “Oh my God, Kanye West is coming straight towards me”. The stage protruded through the stadium from front to back, as Kanye shouted his lyrics and got closer and closer. Eventually, I was 10 feet away from him. Within sixty seconds of the concert starting, every single person in the pit had already experienced Kanye West in the front freakin’ row.
He stood on a stage, suspended from the ceiling about 15 feet off the ground, alone, wil’n out. Pt. 1 went into Pt. 2, and when Pt. 2 went into “Famous”, the Rap God just couldn’t control himself. One listen wasn’t enough, as he quickly restarted the song and said, “You know how much trouble I had to go through to write this song? F— that, I’m gonna say how I feel!”
I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.
I made that bitch famous!
“One more time”
I made that bitch famous!
From the very beginning, it was clear that this concert was going to be special. I personally had seen Kanye twice before this, but neither even came close to this performance. He truly captured his vision and brought it to real life and it was all he could have imagined and more.
A few songs later, while performing “I Don’t Like” (which was absolutely incredible I must say), Kanye stopped the music to call out fellow rapper Kid Cudi. Earlier in the day, Cudi, who is a former member of Kanye’s music group G.O.O.D. Music, tweeted, “Everyone thinks they’re soooo great. Talkin top 5 and be having 30 people write songs for them”. He then tweeted, “My tweets apply to who they apply. Ye, Drake, whoever. These niggas don’t give a fuck about me. They ain’t fuckin with me.” Cudi was referring to a collab album that Kanye and Drake are reportedly working on.
As expected, Kanye did not react lightly to this criticism. When Kanye abruptly stopped the music, he started with, “Kid Cudi, don’t never mention ‘Ye name. I birthed you”, I thought to myself “am I about to finally experience the Kanye rant that I have been waiting for all my life”. Yes. Yes, I was.
“Don’t try to say who I can do songs with,” he continued. “You mad ’cause I’m doing songs with Drake? Ain’t nobody telling ‘Ye who to do songs with! Respect the God!”
After resuming the music, Kanye again stopped a few minutes later during “All Day” to continue taking shots at his former friend.
While the rant was absurd, the highlight of the concert came about halfway through when “Freestyle 4” came on. Throughout the entire concert, as the stage moved, the people of the pit moved. You could choose to be as close as possible to it, a little farther back with more space, or to be directly under it. Lights shined from the bottom of the stage, and below the wildest of the wild would form mosh pits and go crazy.
When the song dropped, Kanye stopped the song and said, “Anybody trying to mosh on this one, come, come close to the stage”. The ensuing mosh pit was undoubtedly the peak of the concert, and more likely than not, my life. As the whole crowd screamed “What if we f**** right now”, with Kanye going just as crazy above us, this really cemented itself as more than just a rap concert.
Rap concerts have gotten ripped in the past for the lack of excitement. While the performer is clearly talented and the music is great, it can be difficult at times for just one individual to really connect with the crowd. Kanye West figured out how to give each and every fan the time of their lives. This concept is so creative and innovative that it doesn’t even seem real, but it is. I don’t want to get to another rap concert without this type of stage.
The second half of the concert was as spectacular as the first. When “I Love Kanye” dropped into “Waves”, my heart skipped a beat. The crowd of 16,000 all shouted “turn me up!” in unison as Ye metaphorically hit the Ye button.
Kanye did save a little something up his sleeve for the end. When “Fade” came on, lasers shot across the arena, with Kanye’s body silhouetted as he jumped across the stage. Ultralight Beam to close out the show was the perfect way for everyone to gather their feelings and attempt to comprehend the greatness that they had just witnessed.