Genius or jeen-yuhs

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

How can you not be inspired by Kanye’s album roll out this week?!? Inspired and…confused? Aggravated? Disappointed?

As spectators, we’ve been in a tough spot with Ye, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017.  As a culture, we are still not having an honest discussion about mental health or the severity and nuance of the disorders millions of people and artists face. As for the art, Kanye has been in a very creative zone and the Donda 2 promo has been well orchestrated. The album dropped on “Twosesday” (2/22/22), but only on the Kano Stem Player. It was accompanied by The Donda 2 Listening Experience at Miami’s LoanDepot Park on Tuesday night.

The live event was chaotic but epic. It was well attended and star-studded. In the suites were superstars like Diddy, 2 Chainz, French Montana, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Cordae, and a who’s who of Miami scenesters, cyrptoratti, and mega moguls including Elon Musk.

The all-star performance ensemble featured Migos, Jack Harlow, Pusha T, Playboi Carti, Alicia Keys, and Fivio Foreign (who played my favorite song right now, the NYC anthem, “City of Gods”). The visually stunning show was executive produced by Future and choreographed by niche Manchester (UK) performance artist, Blackhaine. Kanye’s childhood home again took center stage, this time surrounded by water. I finally get what Kanye’s been doing in those Red Bird boots…

At the merch booth, Kanye premiered the first collaboration between his GAP line and Balenciaga. This morning it became available online. All black everything (especially hoodies and fancy sweat pants) is about to be the look of the season for those hoping to replicate Ye’s energy.

Despite my Miami address, I opted to sit out the show. I’m focused on livestream right now. And while the in-person event certainly seemed to live up to the moment, there’s no question that the livestream provided a clearer, better picture of what was going on. There are so many nuances and details in an event like this, it’s difficult to convey them all without a multi-screen social media and livestream account. This was truly a “full circle” hybrid event that delivered a top-rate stream for millions of viewers. It livestreamed on Amazon, YouTube, Instagram, and even in IMAX Theatres across the country, a dream of Kanye’s that he finally realized. You can still watch the stream online in its entirety.

Now for the technological elephant in the room: the Stem Player. This innovative component to the album release made a massively bold statement to the major labels and DSPs. Donda 2 is not available on streaming platforms, full stop; it’s only available using Kanye’s very cool, new device that breaks songs down into different components (“stems”) so you can adjust the volume of the drums, vocals, and so on. Not only is the user experience very special, the business model cuts out the middle man and allows Kanye to sell directly to his fans. He claims to have made millions of dollars in a matter of hours.

I don’t think the Stem Player provides a replicable model for other artists at this point, but that doesn’t mean it won’t spark change. Most fans lose on this as so few can afford it, but I doubt it will hurt Kanye in the long run. He has a knack for remaining hyper relevant, especially around releases.

While Kanye’s Instagram theatrics have painted the picture of a man in need of support, his artistic output has continued to amaze. From clothing to technology to musical collaboration, Kanye is showing us again why he is the leading visionary of his generation.

As if another album wasn’t enough, Ye’s visionary roots are on full display in the amazing Netflix documentary of his early years, Jeen-Yuhs. Produced by the mega-talented Coodie & Chike, the film provides deep context for Kanye’s creative identity. Surprisingly, so much of his vision from back then is still playing out now. His dreams ascend as he reaches new heights and I’m getting mighty comfortable with the idea of calling him the Michael Jackson or even better Steve Jobs or Walt Disney of his era. Few, if any, have as frequently forced us to ask the question, “What will he do next?” 

No Fields Found.

Also published on Medium.