On October 11, Kanye West proudly wore a red Make America Great Again hat as he met with Donald Trump, telling the president that the controversial headgear made him “feel like Superman.” Mere days later, on October 30, West took to Twitter to declare that he’d seen the light and was “distancing [himself] from politics.” This weekend, his “free-thinker” rants didn’t make it onstage at Tyler, the Creator’s seventh annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, where Kanye performed alongside Kid Cudi as Kids See Ghosts. And the crowd at Dodger Stadium seemed eager to let bygones be bygones.
Media coverage of Kanye’s performance has skewed positive. Forbes published a piece headlined “Kanye West and Kid Cudi Roll Out Their Greatest Hits In Triumphant Kids See Ghosts Live Debut” and Entertainment Weekly‘s review is entitled “Kanye West, Kid Cudi make controversy-free, entertaining live Kids See Ghosts debut.” For Stereogum, Tom Breihan writes that this “has certainly been a turbulent year for Kanye West, but videos from last night show that he’s still capable of leading some very serious stadium singalongs.”
The crowd’s reaction—both in person and on social media—indicates that Kanye’s music, or at least his showmanship, continues to dominate any propensity for “trite, shallow ramblings,” as writer Roxane Gay put it, for better or worse. The Flog Gnaw performance was Kanye and Kid Cudi’s first official show as Kids See Ghosts (also the title of their 2018 collaborative album), and it marked Kanye’s biggest live performance since November 2016, when he told a crowd in San Jose, “I told y’all I didn’t vote, right? But if I were to vote, I would have voted on Trump.”
But, Kanye’s politics–or lack thereof–don’t seem to be hurting his brand. A crowd of 50,000 fans watched as Kanye and Cudi floated overhead, performing inside a rectangular glass case.
“Sunday’s performance felt like an admission that he’s become addicted to the brazen shock tactics and ill-conceived political notions that have overshadowed his musical output as of late,” writes Bryan Rolli for Forbes. He continues, “West shouldn’t be allowed off the hook for his regressive, inflammatory and genuinely dangerous remarks over the past several months. But Kids See Ghosts’ inaugural performance also felt like West’s—and, in his own respect, Cudi’s—attempt to shed his baggage and return to the thing that earned him the adoration of millions in the first place: making great music.”
The Twittersphere produced the usual, meme-ifying Kanye’s questionable dance moves and waxing nostalgic as he performed classic hits from his 2008 studio album 808s and Heartbreak. People also mocked the widespread suggestion that Kanye’s popularity would suffer because of his recent foray into right-wing politics, that he’d been (or should be) “canceled,” so to speak. Whether you like it or not, Kanye clearly has not been canceled.
— Sam Foote (@SamFoote5) November 12, 2018
— rip yandhi (@mehkihxx) November 11, 2018
— нет ничего лучше чем вообще ничего (@CinderLord54) November 12, 2018
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