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KANYE WEST LIGHTS UP 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL AS HEADLINER

KANYE WEST LIGHTS UP 2011 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL AS HEADLINER

Early on in Kanye West's headlining set at the 2011 Essence Music Festival on Saturday Night, the Chicago MC stood on a raised platform suspended high above the cheering crowd. As he spit "Dark Fantasy," the hook "Can we get much higher?" seemed a particularly apt way to describe not only his literal skyward stance at the New Orleans Superdome, but also what was to come that night.

Yeezy was already knee-deep into career-defining classics like "Jesus Walks" "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Diamonds are Forever," when he told the elated NOLA fest he was "just getting started." Rocking a white blazer, topped by a thick tangle of gold chains, and a pair of jeans and sneakers, the 34-year-old rapper bounded across the stage like a hyperactive teen, but there was no mistaking that West is a megastar, the "college dropout" who has more than made G.O.O.D. on his childhood dreams.

As a small army of classical dancers — dressed in a variation of the phoenix costume worn by Selita Ebanks' bird in West's short film "Runaway" — flanked him, Kanye launched into a bombastic rendition of "Power"; "Devil in a New Dress" and "Hell of a Life" followed as 'Ye tucked into singles and cuts from last year's platinum-plus opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Performing to a massive audience that came to its feet (and stayed there all night) to the strains of 'Ye and Jay-Z's "H.A.M.," the Chi-town MC with a Nas flow touched on his recent scandals, explaining that he stopped granting press interviews after taking lashings from media and bloggers. But he wasn't all rebellious rapper: He danced, sang along and laughed his way through an old-school medley of personally influential music, and the playlist jumped from Al Green to '90s soul groups like Jodeci and Shai. (more)

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Article by REBECCA THOMAS, MTV News | Read full article here


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