Kanye West capped off a feverishly busy week in New York – a week that also featured the premiere of both his LP The Life of Pablo and his latest Adidas collection at a Madison Square Garden event – by debuting a pair of Pablo tracks live as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.
Keeping with West’s memorable versions of “Wolves” and “Only One” on the SNL40 special, the rapper again completely transformed the SNL set to match his vision, which in the case of “Ultralight Beam,” Pablo‘s opening track, meant a triangular backdrop with a light denim-wearing choir.
Like his presence in the song itself, West’s involvement was minimal: Following the intro, West shuttled off to stage left, allowing guests The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin and Chance the Rapper (the album’s delayer) to shine in their guest appearances. As the performance closed out, West grunted into the microphone, “Kanye West dot com right now, Tidal streaming right now,” a signal to fans that, after some delays, The Life of Pablo had finally arrived.
For his first performance of the night, West stood onstage by himself for a over a minute, basking in a snippet of the track’s intro “Low Lights” before the track segued into “Highlights.” West was then joined by Young Thug, El Debarge, Price and The-Dream.
Even with the pressures of finishing an album and coordinating a massive fashion show, West still managed to make time to feature in an SNL sketch that pitted him in a much ballyhooed freestyle rap battle against cast member Kyle Mooney. In the sketch, West unleashes his Pablo interlude “I Love Kanye”: