Friday 24 May 2019

Kanye goes where other rappers dare not tread

Kanye West, Phoenix Park, Dublin

Kanye West performing live
Kanye West performing live

Ed Power

Barely a fortnight has elapsed since Kanye West's mother, Donda, passed away during cosmetic surgery. Yet the rapper, pictured below, has decreed that his European tour must go on. You can only admire his dedication.

Striding from the wings, West is a picture of inscrutability. There is no emotion in his voice, only steely professionalism.

Of all the mainstream hip-hop players today, West has always been the most interesting.

For one thing, he has little patience with dreary gangsta cliches. You won't find him draped in bling, nor does he celebrate hip-hop's tradition of violence and misogyny.

Rather, his rhymes read like self-help manuals set to music: West's songs celebrate self betterment and the triumph of the ambition over adversity.

Sonically, too, he ventures where others in commercial rap fear to tread.

On his new album, 'Graduation', West invokes lounge music, movie scores and European electronica (the single 'Stronger' even samples Daft Punk).

Tonight he opens with 'Stronger', a juddering melodic kiss-off to those who claim rap has lost the capacity to innovate.

Later, West dips into his break-out 2005 album, 'Late Registration'. Purists sniff at the record, which is heavily reliant on the dark art of sampling.

Such objections hold little water at the Phoenix Park, though, where nuggets such as 'Touch The Sky' and 'Gold Digger' are rapturously received.

Tonight could have felt like a wake. Instead, it is a celebration.

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