Kanye West Gets the Art Crowd High at Intimate Brooklyn Gig

April 4, 2008 11:31 AM ET

New York's movers and shakers ventured to Brooklyn's Prospect Heights Thursday night to celebrate the opening of artist Takashi Murakami's exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum with a special performance by Kanye West. Host Louis Vuitton transformed the first floor into a high society gala while the exhibit, featuring over ninety Murakami (lauded as Japan's Andy Warhol) pieces, was an anime lover's whimsical wonderland. "It's like being inside a pinball machine," an elevator operator said of the paintings, drawings, wallpaper, and sculptures, including three life-size sculptures of manga hottie Miss Ko2, naked, transforming into a fighter jet.

After a cocktail reception catered by Nobu, dinner at $1,000 per plate and an auction, Vogues Anna Wintour skipped out as dessert was served but Vuitton artistic director Marc Jacobs was in the front row when West took the stage surrounded by smoke and flashing lights. The self-proclaimed "international asshole" performed "Diamonds are Forever" with urgency, as if it was his first and last show ever — lunging and leaping in red patent-leather Ato Matsumoto high tops, down on one knee like a superhero revving up for lift off, rapping fast and with "so much emphasis."

During "Touch the Sky," West ordered the crowd to "Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!" along with him, though their heels and dress shoes weren't exactly the bouncing kind. But the audience (certainly a stuffier one than he's accustomed to) lapped it up, hands in the air, and Kanye had enough energy for the entire extravaganza, chest puffed out in a white blazer and polo shirt with a scarf tucked into the back pocket of his jeans, chanting, "Top of the world, baby, top, top of the wooooorld!" He spun around with his arms extended like a king who just landed on his own intergalactic playground. "Let me hear you say I'm-I'm-I'm sky high!" He repeatedly commanded the crowd before leaning back and screaming, "Sky hiiiiigh!"

After "Get '˜Em High," strobe lights built the momentum for "Can't Tell Me Nothing" which 'Ye extended into a freestyle. "Off the top of the dome," he rapped, "that real hip-hop shit even though I be on the top of the charts and ship/more than 50 Cent, more than a million in a week/and still leave with the thickest freak… Who the hottest in the world right now?" The audience knew this chorus well: "La-la-la-la, wait till I get my money right."

The lighting went blue for "Flashing Lights" and Kanye still hadn't come up for air, but he wasn't winded. He play-wooed a woman in the front row, grabbing her hand. "I know it's been a while sweetheart, we hardly talk, I was doing my thing," he rapped. Then "Gold Digger" led into "Good Life", which 'Ye ended by singing T-Pain's chorus a cappella, sweaty and chanting "I, I go for mine, I got to shine!" Everyone threw their hands up in the sky as instructed.

A guy up front rested a gigantic bottle of Moet on the side of the stage while Kanye finished his set with a strobe-light-bathed "Stronger." West gathered his jacket and left without much of a goodbye. He hadn't introduced himself when he first took the stage either. There was no need.

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