It was 23:00.
Wiz Khalifa just ended his epic performance with the rest of the Taylor Gang, hollering at the crowd, and having a loud exchange of “peace” and “love.” The crowd was on a high at that point. Everyone thought the night could not get any better.
That is until the lights went dark. The curtains rolled down. The set-up has started.
The anticipation for the man they call Pablo has begun.
A 30-minute break in between Khalifa and Kanye West’s sets, but no one even dared to leave the crowded mosh pit and risk losing their spot to see the headline act.
Old Michael Jackson music kept the crowd in check.
Bottles of Jagermeister and Belvedere were being passed around to keep the party alive, and there were a couple of people taking that time to sit down, rest their legs, and prepare for what should be the greatest party they have been part of.
It was 23:30.
Kanye was scheduled to start.
MJ’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” has been on a loop for quite some time, until it was put on hold. The crowd cheered, ready for Kanye.
Until MJ’s song played again. Everyone groaned and understandably so.
It was 23:45
The crowd was getting antsy. Some were thinking that Kanye might have cancelled the show. Probably a fight with Wiz Khalifa occurred backstage? One of the set pieces broke? Did Kanye even make it to Manila?
It was 23:50
People were still sitting down until they heard a loud bang from the bass speakers. It’s real. It’s time.
“I’m tryna keep my faith. But I’m looking for more.”
And with that, the lights that were popularly used in Kanye’s Glastonbury performance began to drop down slowly. It settled to a 45-degree angle, clearly hiding someone in the back.
Work. It. Harder. Make. It. Better. Do. It. Faster. Makes. Us. Stronger.
The beat begins to pick-up.
Work it. Harder. Make it. Better. Do it. Faster. Makes us. Stronger.
You can feel the tempo now.
Work it harder. Make it better. Do it faster. Makes us stronger.
Here we go now.
Work it harder make it better do it faster makes us stronger.
Red Pablo cap. Red jacket. Yeezy Boost 350 fresh from the Season 3 collection.
You can’t miss him. He’s here now.
In his first live appearance after releasing his 7th studio album, The Life of Pablo, Kanye West reminded everyone why, in his eyes, he is the greatest performer of all-time. He started the show with a bang, playing his successful collaboration with Daft Punk – “Stronger.”
“Black Skinhead” and “All Day” maintained the momentum that was set by his incredible intro, and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” reminded everyone that he has never been bothered by what the media or naysayers say to him.
“Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” was the first single from TLOP that was performed live, and he didn’t fail to impress, having no problem singing both Kid Cudi’s and his part. He admitted that this was his favorite song, by far, in his latest album.
Slow and steady compared to his 3 prior songs.
“Pt. 2” raised the stakes again, using a sample from Desiigner‘s top hit “Panda.”
“Famous” was no doubt the song of his set. Kanye admitted to having experienced a writer’s block while making his latest album, and this song was the one that set him free. He justified using the famous line (“I made that bitch famous”) as saying that he only wanted to say what everyone else wanted to say – Taylor Swift never deserved that award. To make his point, he played the song a couple more times, to the delight of everyone.
“Waves” and “Jesus Walks,” a perfect mix of old-school and new-age, soon followed, to keep up with the gospel theme that Kanye is currently on.
Kanye’s success in the music industry would not have been possible without his famed group, GOOD Music. The next 3 songs he played, “Clique“, “Don’t Like (Remix),” and “Mercy” was a good way to remind the crowd just how cruel summer can be with ‘Ye and his crew.
It was 00:30.
Big Sean‘s “Blessings” made a surprise appearance in his track list. It wasn’t always part of his set in prior events, but waaaaaaay up, he just had to share how blessed he is. Drake‘s latest release, “Pop Style,” which features the duo of West and Jay-Z (dubbed “The Throne“) made its way to his set list as well to delight of the OVO‘s fanbase in the crowd.
A Kanye West show would not be complete without performing “Ni**as In Paris,” arguably the most successful song he made with Jay-Z in their album, Watch the Throne. The crowd went cray, as if everyone was suffering from realness that is only Mr. West shows. Goin’ gorillas might be the right term to fully express what just transpired.
Not to back down from any controversy, ‘Ye went back to one of his underrated songs with “New Slaves,” in which he introduced two types of racism for black people – broke and rich racism. Broke racism is for those who enter stores and are not allowed to even touch anything, being stereotyped that they can’t pay for it. Rich racism is for those who enter stores and spend everything on what they see, being stereotyped as people with no knowledge of how valuable money is (spendin’ everything on Alexander Wang”).
Fascinating definition of new slaves from the Ghetto University.
“Blood On The Leaves” and “Runaway” ended the brief-Yeezus section of his set, an album that wasn’t well received at first but praised for being ahead of its time, now a part of his legendary collection.
It was 00:45.
The OLD KANYE finally revealed himself again to the public. “All Falls Down“, “Gold Digger“, “Good Life,” and “Touch the Sky” made everyone dance as if it was 2007, the year that everyone loved Kanye for reinvigorating to a hip-hop scene that was dominated with gangsta rap. It’s also a nice reminder to everyone how far his music has changed, and yet continues to drop chart-topping singles every year he decides he wants to.
It was 01:00.
The party is almost over. The greatest concert that everyone has been part of is about to conclude. But the way Kanye is performing, he can still go on and on and on. He’s feeding off the crowd’s energy. He’s not yet done.
All 576 lights began to flash just in time for “All of the Lights.” The critical acclaim song from West’s My Beautiful Dark Twister Fantasy provided the last upbeat song, before Kanye decided to slow everything down.
It was 01:05.
It was bound to happen. Kanye ad-libbed “Bound 2,” a song included in the laser-intensity of the Yeezus album, but had the vibe of his Graduation days. He approached the legendary producer, Mike Dean, checking out which songs they can still play. He began to sing Rihanna‘s part in “Run This Town,” showing some love to his co-Def Jam alum.
It was 01:10.
It’s ending down now. The rowdy crowd is slowly settling down. “FourFiveSeconds” was the intro to his outro. The end is near. We only got a couple minutes left for wildin’.
It was 01:15.
Kanye channeled Donda West, his mother that died due to complications from elective surgery, and performed “Only One.” It was the perfect song to end his show. It was the loss of his mother that changed everything for him. It was her death that transformed his music. It was her passing that Kanye became the enigma that he is – one of the most misunderstood genius ever.
During his monologue segment prior to playing “Famous” for the 2nd time, he asked the crowd a very interesting question:
“If I get in trouble for saying the truth, what’s being said the rest of the time?”
It was 01:20.
Kanye left the stage to a wild roar. Some were thinking that Kanye will return for an encore. Probably a surprise performance with Wiz Khalifa? One more hit to play?
It wasn’t going to happen. It was enough. He made everyone’s night. It was a show for the ages, a performance only he could pull off. His critics became his fans. His naysayers became his followers. Funny how a 90-minute show can do all that.
As for me, it was a dream come true.
A hip-hop legend performing in Manila for the first time? I think I died. In that accident, ’cause it must be heaven.
– David Gamboa