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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Diamonds are Forever

Diamonds are Forever

On Wednesday, April 26, 2006 between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. our campus hosted a private concert featuring the six-time Grammy winner Kanye West.

Kanye has gained major success from his albums, College Dropout and Late Registration, which included hits like, “Jesus Walks” and more recently “Gold Digger.” He is also responsible for producing hit singles for major Hip Hop and R&B artists, including Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Brandy, Talib Kweli, Dilated Peoples, Ludacris, Common and John Legend.

West may be more recently known for his observation on NBC following Hurricane Katrina, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

“I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, ‘They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ‘They’re looking for food.'” West said.

The concert, which was part of the inaugural week celebration, took place at the Clark Athletic Center. The show opened up with a musical demonstration of the hip hop art of DJ’ing. Soon after that, we were entertained by local R&B singer, Faydra.

After a timely pause filled with stage adjustments, tracks from A Tribe Called Quest, and students chanting, “We-Want-Kan-ye, clap-clap… clap! clap! clap!” the lights dimmed and the crowd roared with anticipation. The DJ walked in and set up on the far right; a string section followed; a bassist and harpsichordist set up in the back center of the stage. Then enter the two backup singers who set up on the left side. Finally, with an even louder roar from the crowd Kanye walked to the center of the stage and paused for a second as the beginning of his song, “Diamonds” started to play.

He continued building on the energy from the crowd by performing some popular songs from his sophomore album as well as some songs from his first album, College Dropout.

Halfway through the concert, after Kanye performed, “Crack Music” a cut off his latest CD, Late Registration, he stopped his performance and spoke to the crowd. He broke down the history of ‘crack’ and the etymology of the word ‘crack’ in hip hop music. He explained how he uses the term ‘crack’ the same way the term ‘dope’ was once used in hip hop lingo, recognizing and embracing the negative connotations.

Kanye went further to illustrate how for many young black males of his generation, the option of dealing drugs was very influential in terms of making money. He also brought light to the political climate, especially in LA when Ronald Reagan was governor in the lines of this song stating, “How we stop the Black Panthers? / Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer!” I’m sure many people were not prepared for a lesson on Kanye’s politics, about the 1970s to 1980s war on drugs, but if you’ve followed Kanye’s career and outspokenness, his history lesson might be expected.

So for anyone who may have been caught off guard or even offended by some of the references, language use or any part of the concert, I caution you in the future to first listen to the CD of the artists you plan to go see and support, so you know what to expect.

Further on during the performance, Kanye took a patting-his-own-back break to remind some and educate others on a few of the well-received songs he has produced for other people. At one point he put grabbed one of his shirts, lifted it to his nose, and proclaimed, “Smells of rich mahogany.” He then went on to perform a few more songs from his current album ending off with his latest release, “Touch the Sky.”

All in all, despite some long pauses, lighting and music modifications, wardrobe changes, and even Kanye messing up a line, he gave a passionate and energetic performance that you couldn’t help but feel internally, from his first song to the last; even after some people began to leave and he reminded us that he’s “sort of like, a big deal.” And on the way out of the Athletic Center, I could not help but see the smiles and expressions of enjoyment for an event well put together and managed by the staff, student life, and campus police.