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In 2016, Kanye West took over New York City’s Madison Square Garden for his album listening of The Life Of Pablo. Trumping your traditional release party, Ye’s efforts were grandiose; he held a fashion show for his Yeezy Season 3 presentation, called on his superstar friends Kid Cudi and Pusha T for a turn-up session in the venue’s DJ booth and invited the entire Kardashian clan for his soirée. Two years later, West attempted to defy the odds by holding an album listening for his new project Ye at a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
At 7:30 p.m, a phalanx of celebrities filled up the desolate ranch. Chris Rock, Jonah Hill, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, Nas, Pusha T, Kid Cudi and more were spotted mingling with journalists, tastemakers and Kanye enthusiasts. In between the ebullient conversations, attendees were spoiled with generous entrees of chicken wings, briskets, macaroni and cheese and alcohol. Outside of the ranch, fans gazed at the bevy of horses that pranced around in the open field, while on the opposite end, a sound team diligently built out the area catered to the live stream that was set to take place once Kanye’s listening session commenced.
After relishing the tranquility produced by the mountainous fields of Wyoming, partygoers were instructed to walk onto the field where the sound systems were. As everyone gathered around the luminous bonfire, the employees of the ranch added more wood to intensify the mood of the listening party.
By 10 p.m., Chris Rock sauntered onto the DJ booth and gave a rousing introduction for Kanye’s new album, titled Ye. “Remember this: Rap music, hip-hop music is the first art form created by free black men. Hip-Hop is the first art form created by free black men. No black man has taken more advantage of his freedom than Kanye West,” said Rock before asking attendees “to listen without prejudice.”
After introducing West’s album, spectators were given two opportunities to digest Kanye’s latest endeavor. The seven-track album includes a host of marquee stars like Nicki Minaj, Ty Dolla $ign, Young Thug and Jeremih. Throughout the project, Kanye’s candor about his mental health and recent indiscretions were ubiquitous. He unabashedly spoke on his “slavery comments” rapping: “They said build your own, I said, ‘How, Sway?’/I said slavery’s a choice, they said, ‘How, Ye?’/Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day.”
Later, he referenced the sexual misconduct allegations pinned against Russell Simmons. “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too/Wanna pray for him ’cause he got MeToo’d.”
As Kanye joyously paraded around the bonfire, partygoers joined in on the fun and began feverishly dancing alongside him. Many savored the fact that West was in a jovial mood, cracking a toothy smile on occasion.
After playing the album twice in full, fans dispersed and began walking out of the event. Though the album was short and had many people yearning for more answers — like the song titles — the thought that Kanye finally has something tangible to present after Pablo, seemed enough to hold them over for the time being.
This story first appeared on billboard.com
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