Only a Kanye West album release could make you download a whole new app you’ve never used before and might never use again, just to watch strangers, competitors, and colleagues freeze in the Wyoming cold while huddled around a tiny campfire waiting for a known troll like Kanye to show up and play his new tunes.
Only Kanye would ask for such a thing, for journalists and influencers to hop on flights to a remote location in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night to hear his latest. Only Kanye would insist that his audience indulge him to engage with his music in the meaningful, communal fashion that’s become so commonplace in recent years, it’s almost mandatory.
If you didn’t hear it on release night, did you even hear it? If you want to know the answer, you have to tune in, on Kanye’s terms, on Kanye’s time. It’s his gravity, it’s his magnitude within music. Will it cause a seismic shift or will it simply become another footnote in the bizarre, winding tale that is the story of Kanye West? Maybe there isn’t an answer, but you can’t take your eyes off him.
At nearly 12 o’clock on the dot, comedian Chris Rock found an elevated position to introduce Kanye, shout out the assembled guests (which included Nas, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Pusha T, Lil Yachty, and others), and wax philosophical about Kanye’s legacy within hip-hop while revealing the album’s title as Ye before the album listening kicked off in earnest. Ironically and appropriately, the first song began with a long-winded rumination on self-love, wherein Kanye worried the refrain of “I love myself way more than I love you” like a dog with a bone. We know, Kanye, we know.