See Kanye West's Claustrophobic 'SNL' 40 Performance With Sia - Rolling Stone
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See Kanye West’s Innovative, Claustrophobic ‘SNL’ 40 Performance

Rapper performs “Jesus Walks,” “Only One” and new song “Wolves” before appearing as himself in ‘Wayne’s World’ skit

Kanye West concluded a performance-heavy week with an appearance at Saturday Night Live‘s 40th anniversary special Sunday night. Three days after headlining the first annual Roc City Classic with Kevin Durant and two days after surprising Drake and Nas‘ Sprite NBA All-Star Weekend concert, the rapper donned Marilyn Manson-esque contact lenses for an innovative mini-medley.

West was the only musician to perform multiple tracks (Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus and Paul Simon also took the stage), kicking off his mini-set with “Jesus Walks” off his 2004 debut album The College Dropout. West performed the song while lying flat on his back with overhead cameras capturing his restless movements as he rapped into a microphone suspended over his mouth. What West lost vocally after a week of performances and events, he made up for in emotion, tackling the decade-old song like he recorded it the day before.

The musician then scrambled to his feet to perform a delicate version of “Only One” (without McCartney) before bringing out Chicago rapper Vic Mensa and Sia — the latter camouflaging herself with an oversized wig — for “Wolves,” West’s plaintive, melancholic song from his upcoming, as-yet-untitled new album. The trio performed on a claustrophobic, starkly black-and-white set with a low ceiling that limited their movements. All three performers stayed close to the floor, crawling and crouching while they sang and rapped.

West would later make a self-deprecating cameo during a “Wayne’s World” skit with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. During the duo’s “SNL’s Top Ten” list, which counted down the show’s most alluring attributes (including “aftershow orgies”), Myers and Carvey discussed the value of the show’s musical guests. “I think Beck was one of the best,” said Carvey, referencing West’s chastising of the rocker at the Grammys earlier this month. “Even better than Beyoncé.” The following item on the Top Ten list: “Kanye, Sit Down!”

The rapper premiered “Wolves” earlier this week at a showcase for the Yeezy Boost, his new sneaker collaboration with Adidas. The event was broadcast in 40 locations worldwide and during the show, a message appeared stating “This is track #1 on Kanye West’s New Album.”

In This Article: Kanye West, Sia, SNL, Vic Mensa


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