At this stage, pretty much nothing that Kanye does phases us anymore – especially not after announcing of his bid for the 2020 US presidency. So when he announces something as special as a two-nights-only performance of 2008’s 808s and Heartbreak at the Hollywood Bowl, we pay attention. There were no calls for political reupheaval, no lectures about fashion, no mention of the Yeezy Boost. Just him, 70-odd backup dancers, a symphony orchestra, and special guests Kid Cudi and Young Jeezy performing the tracks that showed us that Kanye was a mastermind well before Fantasy and Yeezus.
It’s about as minimal as Kanye will ever get, no doubt influenced by the intensely personal nature of the album, detailing his own vulnerability and redemption in light of his mother’s death, and split from his fiancée at the time of the album. He performed tracks which had never been performed live before – like Bad News – with other tracks – Amazing, RoboCop – not having been performed since 2009. It’s refreshing to see Kanye at his rawest (like in the fan-shot videos below), and serves as a reminder to us of his talent when stripped away from the flash of his usual antics (we’re keeping the definition of the term ‘stripped away’ fairly loose here – this is ‘Ye, after all).
Watch fan footage of 808s and Heartbreak here: