Last weekend in Chicago, the month-long Red Bull Music Festival kicked off with a bang, collecting most of the artists on Kanye West’s GOOD Music label for a two-hour long arena blowout concert. With some admittedly notable exceptions, nearly every artist currently signed to the imprint was on-hand at the 10,000-seat Wintrust Arena in the South Loop to show what they can do.
One of the more interesting aspects surrounding the evening was to consider how far removed we are from the peak, Cruel Summer era of 2012 when Big Sean and Travis Scott were both newcomers and Jay-Z was hanging around the “Clique.” The only artist still kicking around from that time period is the label’s current president, Pusha T. The rest of the bill was lined with relative newcomers like Valee, 070 Shake, and Teyana Taylor, along with Desiigner, and a headlining set from Nas, who though not a member of GOOD Music, worked with West on his most recent, seven-song album Nasir.
Most notable in his absence was West himself. Though he was never billed, you had to think given the fact that he’s been hanging around Chicago a lot more lately, and that nearly every single one of his artists that hit the stage has some kind of affiliation with him that he might want to make an unscheduled cameo. Alas, that was not to be. Perhaps he’s trying to maintain a lower profile at the moment in the run-up to the release of his next album Yandhi. It seems antithetical to his very nature, but given all the recent mania that has stirred up around him lately, and his decision to go quiet about his political feelings, maybe he simply didn’t want to overshadow the larger event. Or maybe there was an art exhibit he wanted to catch in Fort Worth, Texas instead. Who the hell really knows?
You can really learn a lot about an artist by what they do when they get in front of a crowd. With so much talent sharing the same stage on the same night, it was interesting to consider where each person currently sits in the larger GOOD Music hierarchy. Here, they all are ranked from worst to best.