So if Kanye West's weird behavior in the Saturday Night Live promos wasn't enough to pique your interest in tonight's season finale, last night he surprised the world be debuting a new song and video with projections on landmarks in 10 different cities around the world.
From New York to Chicago to L.A., all the way up north to Toronto, and across the seas in Europe and Australia, West released the video for his song "New Slaves" with no advanced word via projections onto the walls of museums and other major buildings late last night. This map from West's website tells you where you needed to live to check it out:
Here's the video being projected on Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum:
And here's Kanye's face on the wall outside Chicago's Wrigley Field:
And here's Kanye's face outside the 5th Avenue Prada Store in New York City:
The new beat is sparse and haunting. Kanye seems to be moving in a new political and social direction with this song, judging from the lyrics. (As if that wasn't expected with a title like "New Slaves.") And, yes, the video is roughly four minutes of a close-up shot on Kanye's face. People were scrambling to get to the surprise showings all Friday evening. The song played on a loop for hours to let more people capture videos, vines and instagrams. It might be the most social song debut in the world. Part of that is because of Kanye's face being the only image (because of course it is) but also because these are some of the most political lyrics of Kanye's career. It seems like he has something to get off his chest:
My mama was raised in an era when/Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doing clothes you would have thought I had help/But they wouldn’t be satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself
You see its broke nigga racism/That's that "don't touch anything in the store"
And there’s rich nigga racism/That's that "come in and buy more"
What you want a Bentley, fur coat and diamond chain?/All you blacks want all the same things
Used to only be niggas /Now everybody play me
Spending everything on that Alexander Wang/New Slaves
Meanwhile, Kanye was driving around New York City watching people watch him. Yeezy made surprise appearances at his surprise shows last night. He seemed to be channeling his inner Bill Murray:
Oh shit. He watched it behind us on his Maybach and just drove off! Wtfffff— Hyphen (@DJHyphen) May 18, 2013
Man, Yeezy just pulled some punk'd type shit. Watched behind us with his phone up like everyone filming then bounced quick. Keyser Soze.— Hyphen (@DJHyphen) May 18, 2013
Few people can get away with this kind of thing. Debuting a song with no warning as part of a street art stunt is the ballsiest thing an artist can possibly do. If it was anyone other than Kanye the response would be, "who cares?" But Ye's crafted himself into a position where he can pull something like this off:
Kanye rolling up to the Prada store in a Maybach to watch people watch his face on a building is the most Kanye thing there is.— Luis Paez-Pumar (@paezpumarL) May 18, 2013
Kanye has people listening to a song for 5 hours straight and staring at a screen. On a wall or at home. Fucking genius— Nation (@NahRight) (@definitely_nah) May 18, 2013
truly he is Citizen Kanye— Molly Lambert (@mollylambert) May 18, 2013
So Kanye just cranked up the anticipation level for his Saturday Night Live appearance. As our Esther Zuckerman explained yesterday, Kanye's history of putting on memorable performances in Studio 8H is extensive. His 2010 appearance produced two of the most enduring performances of "Runaway" and "Power," off his fantastic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album, from that album's promotional tour. You should make sure you tune in tonight. It's going to be interesting, to say the least.