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Even Without Obama, Kanye West Reclaims Chicago and Lollapalooza

August 4, 2008 1:15 AM ET

Rumors of Barack Obama being onhand to introduce Kanye West proved false. No matter. Aiming to permanently put the Bonnaroo debacle in the past, the local rapper came out not to just conquer the festival stage but to reclaim his hometown as his own. West's flashy light show lived up to promise. Yet despite all the popping strobes, panning spotlights and pastel illumination, the emcee remained the focus of attention. His energy and intensity backed up his cocky attitude and prodigious boasts. Examinations of conscious, conversations with god and motivational talks punctuated a non-stop beat-heavy blitz. West tackled "Heard 'Em Say," "Diamonds From the Sierra Leone" and "Can't Tell Me Nothing" with the kind of elevated drama and drive that fuels champion athletes. He inhabited the narrative of "Put On," pushing the song until it became an autobiographical statement and personal pledge. "This performance is for the lady that drove me to Chicago at the age of three," he stated during the track, before getting everyone to scream for his mother. Such candor and motivation are not only what make West a visionary; they are what make him human.

More Lollapalooza Coverage: Rock 'N' Roll Diary

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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