Kanye West just debuted both his new album T.L.O.P. (a.k.a. The Life of Pablo, formerly known as Waves and Swish) and "season three" of his Yeezy fashion line with a lavish two-hour event that confused the hell out of everyone who wasn't physically inside Madison Square Garden with him. (Based on what we saw of the live stream of the spectacle, it's probably safe to assume it also confused the hell out of everyone who was inside Madison Square Garden, but that's neither here nor there.)
Sources affiliated with streaming service Pandora told Vox that the album will be out Friday, February 12.
Regardless, if you weren't inside Madison Square Garden but had planned to watch the show via the live stream Kanye announced earlier this week, your chances of hearing T.L.O.P. on its first run turned out to be slim to none.
After botching Rihanna's album release and successfully surprising us all with Beyoncé's "Formation," Jay Z's beleaguered streaming service Tidal was set to host a free live stream of Kanye's event on February 11 at 4 pm EST. Kanye also sold tickets for people to watch the event in movie theaters across the country, which in the end was a much more reliable bet. Once the show began, the Tidal live stream almost immediately buckled under the immense traffic from Kanye's curious fan base and/or haters.
There's something almost comforting about the fact that Tidal — which has the support of some of the biggest musicians on the planet — still hasn't figured itself out almost a full year after its launch. The one-two-three punch of releasing new material from Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Kanye within the span of a few weeks should have been a game changer, and yet Tidal ending up staggering over the finish line, looking more unstable than ever.
For those who were either inside Madison Square Garden to witness the show live (like our good friends over at Racked), at a Kanye-approved movie theater, or lucky enough to get the live stream working in fits and spurts, the Yeezy show was one of the most elaborate and bizarre events Kanye's ever put together.
Kanye had strict instructions for the models debuting Yeezy season three, probably because he wants people to take the fashion line more seriously. But now that the following document is public, that seems unlikely:
According to Twitter accounts by people who attended the T.L.O.P. event, the models did as they were told and stood still — or close to it — throughout the entire two-hour show. Rapper Young Thug might have taken "behave as if no one was in the room" a little too literally, but, hey, at least the result looked "natural."
At one point, Kanye performed a song all about Kanye, as was prophesied in the book of "How Has This Not Already Happened Already?"
Kanye then praised Adidas — which helped produce the Yeezy 3 fashion line — and delivered some sharp words about Nike, which the crowd took up in a blunt chant: "Fuck Nike!" (Kanye did, however, stipulate that no one could speak ill of longtime Nike spokesperson Michael Jordan.)
In the evening's most startling moment, Kanye took a break from the music to play a trailer for a video game called "Only One," which he said was about his late mother Donda West "traveling through the gates of heaven."
You might be wondering about the actual music, and to be frank, so am I; the live stream never worked well enough for me to get a good read on it. But early reports from the concert floor have described T.L.O.P. as decidedly more gospel than anything Kanye has previously produced. Jezebel reports that guest stars include Rihanna, the Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, and Frank Ocean. It's safe to say he's not holding back.
Apparently, T.L.O.P. also features lyrics that boast about how great Kanye is (as per usual). One such reported line is seemingly targeted at Taylor Swift: "I feel like me and Taylor might have sex. I made that bitch famous." (And, no, this doesn't really make sense, seeing as Swift was an enormously successful pop star who'd just won the a VMA for Best Female Video when Kanye interrupted her speech, but who am I to point out logic holes in Kanye West's reality?)
By all accounts, the T.L.O.P. event was a total smorgasbord of music, fashion, ego, and more ego. But Kanye is no stranger to pomp and circumstance; he loves taking huge swings in the name of Art. He's an unapologetic, and sometimes brilliant, provocateur. Sometimes he uses his fame to highlight injustice; other times, he uses his influence to deeply confusing effect, as he proved two days before the T.L.O.P. show when he found time between rehearsals to tweet, "BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!" for seemingly no rhyme or reason.
So as atypical as it is for someone to throw an album-slash-fashion line launch party in Madison Square Garden, it's hardly surprising from Kanye West.
Edited to clarify that rapper Young Thug is the sleeping man in that very perfect gif. Also added release date.