Reviews: Kanye West – RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin
Are hip-hop celebrities at elevated risk of clinical megalomania and delusions of grandeur? Is that cause or correlation? Rap music was born of quickness and rhyme, and its early practitioners competed fiercely with each other to stay at the cutting edge. You had to be able to say you were the best, so mainly you rapped about how it was so patently clear that you were the best. That overt megalomania still spills out of all the top acts, but the trick has become to sharpen the point: what will be nature of the claim – bombastic, sarcastic, threatening, wry?
Kanye West has chosen a straight-up form of pure vanity, a sterling self-regard, and he has grown too powerful to be in the avant-garde of the music. But as he showed at the RDS, he has not become a static dispenser of his own celebrity. Rather, he is still working it, sweating hard, digging deep and sincerely into a song when the rhymes need force behind them, while at other times just loping or lolling, chin thrust, through a riveting spectacle, letting the highly produced music share the stage with his highly produced persona.
The stage: ’twas a thing of beauty, by turns giant laptop, spaceship dashboard and alien terrain. It also jetted various colours of flame, swivelled, and appeared to run with water and whip with blown sand. Two huge screens flanked it, with video constantly close-up on West to allow the audience to track the psychic drama playing on his face (introspection clear by firm set of jaw).
West trod this fantastic contraption in a sort of Buck Rogers deerskin. The show was part hokey drama about a crashed spaceship with a satnav named Jane. West, stranded and alone, rapped and sang about the various travails of superstardom and the general loneliness of being brilliant. Then, after a bit of lewd dialogue, Jane transformed into the eponym of West’s greatest hit, Gold Digger , the shooting stars themselves proclaimed him the biggest star in the universe, West saved himself, blasted off, and was raptured back for two encores. DAVID SHAFER