Kanye West, The Forum, London, May 20th 2003 (By Nooreen Kara)
(Check the exclusive concert pics at the bottom of this article.)
Book your tickets quick they said – As the promotional “College Dropout” T-Shirts suggest, ‘hip hop is back’. Rocafella’s newest sensation Kanye West was in London performing exclusively for the first ever time at Kentish Town’s The Forum on Thursday 20th May.
Not long ago he was the quiet-man with the beats that helped make the superstars extra-super, producing for Jay-Z, Scarface and Talib Kweli amongst others. Since his CD dropped, instead of the usual 21st century gangster rap about sex, bling and clubbing, Kanye West has wowed the hip hop scene with his effective old-school-meets-thug style rhymes, and tunes such as Jesus Walks, All Falls Down, School Spirit and Through the Wire.
Late coming onstage (10.20pm), Kanye finally set off with him striking a few preppy-style poses before beginning the first song of the night. The opening hit was ‘Get ‘Em High’ which set the sell-out crowd going crazy and the Louis Vuitton Don was soon joined onstage by Damon Dash. For any of you who don’t know who Damon Dash is, just reading his trainers – the ones which had CEO plastered over the side of soles – would tell all. That’s right, CEO of the ROC. And it was this Rocafella co-owner that presented a genuinely moved Kanye with a plaque in celebration of his “College Dropout” album going platinum in the UK – the first Rocafella artist to ever to do.
Kanye then played through his record-breaking album, only pausing briefly to allow violinist Miri Ben-Ari silence the crowd with a stunning display of her skills during the ‘New Workout Plan’, and allowing incredibly gifted pianist John Legend to shine with his talents over selected “College Dropout” tracks and Mario Winan’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’. He then had masses of fans, all cultures and religions, holding their fists in the air, screaming “God show me the way because the devil’s trying to hold me back”. If anyone would have said last year that by now one previously unknown man would be rapping about Jesus and attracting bigger crowds than those rapping about pimping and hoes, I would have quite honestly laughed.
Besides his album songs, Kanye performed Ludacris’ ‘Stand Up’ and verses over Jay-Z’s ‘Encore’, and ‘Lucifer’, all of which he produced, and ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’. Also performed was Dilated People’s latest hit, ‘This Way’, which Kanye features on.
Towards the end of the night, he told the crowd he had his next 3 albums planned out. His next would be called “Late Registration”. Then after that, “Graduation”. And his fourth album would be titled “Good Ass Job”, much to the amusement of the capacity crowd. He then went on to perform a song from his next album titled ‘Hey Mama’. In mine and probably most hip-hop fans’ opinions, the only other person to make a song bout his mama and pull it off so well was the legendary Tupac. It just brings to mind a question – could hip hop finally be back?