Kanye rants at concert, leaving fans bitter

NEW YORK • Kanye West likened himself to President-elect Donald Trump at a concert last Saturday in Sacramento, California, before tumbling into a 17-minute, free-associative speech addressing radio programmers, MTV, his friends and collaborators Jay Z and Beyonce, Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg.

After that, he ended the performance with a microphone drop, having played only three songs and leaving fans bitter and upset, according to reactions on social media.

"It's a new world, Hillary Clinton, it's a new world," West said from his floating platform stage above the crowd. "Feelings matter. Because guess what? Everybody in Middle America felt a way and they showed you how they felt."

Two nights earlier, he had shocked fans at another gig, saying that, while he had not voted, he would have cast a ballot for Mr Trump if he had.

On Saturday, in a trademark polemic the likes of which had been mostly absent from his current Saint Pablo tour, he doubled down on his embrace of Trump-like political incorrectness and opined on the state of the media.

"Yeah, I'm taking his lead," he said of the President-elect. "A lot of people here tonight felt like they lost," he began. "You know why? Because y'all been lied to. Google lied to you. Facebook lied to you. Radio lied to you."

He also questioned gatekeepers for promoting songs by Drake but not Frank Ocean, and wondered once again why he is often overlooked at awards shows. Referring to this year's MTV Video Music Awards, West, 39, pulled back the curtain on what he said was the political behind-the-scenes dealings that go into booking celebrities for such events.

"Beyonce, I was hurt because I heard that you said you wouldn't perform unless you won Video of the Year over me and over (Drake's) Hotline Bling," he said.

"Sometimes we be playing the politics too much and forget who we are just to win," he continued. "I've been sitting here to give y'all my truth even at the risk of my own life - even at the risk of my own success, my own career."

However, he said, such truth-telling was necessary for real progress. "Obama couldn't make America great because he couldn't be him to be who he was," he said.

"Black men have been slaves. Obama wasn't allowed to do this" - he screamed - "and still win. He had to be perfect. But being perfect don't always change" things.

Disappointed fans turned to social media to demand refunds. They were later told they would be paid back in full.

Even amid his raw and sometimes rambling monologue, West seemed to know he was courting controversy. "I'm not always going to say things the perfect way, the right way," he said. "But I'm going to say how I feel."

He added: "Get ready to have a field day, press. Get ready, get ready. Because the show's over."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2016, with the headline 'Kanye rants at concert, leaving fans bitter'. Print Edition | Subscribe