When Glam bid farewell to summer over Labor Day weekend, Kanye West became a part of the deal—we’d nabbed tickets to his Philadelphia Made in America Festival headliner, after all. What we didn’t know is that in our first encounter with Yeezus post BBC interview, baby, and bride, is that he could be so… enchanting.
The Chicago emcee has garnered a polarizing rep over the past few years, if not for his frank interviews, run-ins with the paparazzi, and unabashed displays of self-love, then for marrying a woman many love to hate. Love or loathe him, there’s no denying West’s musical prowess: in collaboration, on record, and live on stage.
The latter was evident during the Saturday finale of “big brother” Jay Z’s Philadelphia festival stage. Though we came in expecting a late show, West respected the fête’s curfew and started on time. Though we expected a drawn-out lamentation on his A-list woes, West kept it all about the music, and weaved his musings in between songs without missing a beat. Though we thought his performance would be relegated to songs solely from Yeezus, West pleasantly surprised us—by surprised, we mean mosh pitting and screaming for more—with his bangers like “Jesus Walks,” “Run This Town,” and “All of the Lights.” He did, however, wear that mask.
Here are six more things West made sure to convey over his Labor Day set. Maybe summer isn’t so cruel after all.
1. He works hard, and it’s not laughing matter. “To now, 37 years old, I’m still on this mother______. We work extremely hard, and people want to make a joke out of how hard we work… Whether it’s South Park making a joke a long time ago about us going to fashion shows. Whether it’s MTV recently making a joke, [referencing Jay Pharaoh’s VMAs impersonation]… it’s fine, it’s all funny and everything, but, don’t distract from our mission. It’s not a joke what we do up here. This music that we do is not a joke. What we do culturally is not a joke.”
2. Neither is his marriage to Kim Kardashian. “When I was at an all-black school and people used to pick at the white girl at the school, that was not a joke. So for me to be in a very publicized, interracial relationship, it’s not a joke. It’s something that you should treat with respect. Because we’re all in this together.”
3. He won’t stand for segregation of any form. “They try to make it seem like a self-absorbed thing, but the bottom line is I want to be able to create more. To create more that can help more people. When I did The College Dropout, there hadn’t been music like that at that time. It was the segregation between what they called hip-hop and gangster rap. I used to get booed at… shows for wearing a Roc-A-Fella chain. It was the segregation. There’s many ideas of segregation: you can’t sit at this table… And then you get to the idea of “New Slaves.” That sh__ is serious, what I’m talking about on there.”
4. He still loves the press. “I’ve got love for Sway, I’ve got love for Charlamagne [the God], I’ve got love for all these people, anybody in the media… I know everybody’s doing their job. But before we go to the next song, I want people the realize, what we do, we put our love, our heart, our pain, our story, our lives into it, until 3:00 a.m., every night in the studio for this.”
5. Don’t listen to the lies. “They’ve got a problem with me or they hate me, something like that, something like that [he sang this part, twice]… What’s the reason why they would say that Kanye is not a good guy? The only thing that I do is I tell the truth, and if I tell the truth, and I’m not a good guy, what that means is what they tell you the rest of the time is all lies.”
6. There’s nothing wrong with class. “What makes that Mercedes-Benz so much better than that Toyota? Well, that’s called class. It’s what motivates you to pay more for school, so that you can get a better job, so that you can get a better house, so that you can get a better car, so that you can be in a better class system. That’s called class. Not just an E-Class, or a C-class.”