Kanye West Introduces ‘The Life of Pablo’ As a Living, Breathing Visual Experience (Videos)

With the weeks-long rollout for his recently released The Life of Pablo, Kanye West elicited plenty of attention for his eighth studio album. But, in typical Yeezy fashion, a new album was just the beginning. The Chicagoan took over New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden to debut the third season of his clothing line in conjunction with a listening party and managed to make time to perform on Saturday Night Live on February 13. He opted to use the show’s platform as the setting for the album’s official release announcement, taking a moment after his second performance to share the news that the album was available on his website and on Tidal. Having also taken part in a sketch-comedy bit, ‘Ye’s musical performances were what Heads tuned in for, as they marked the first time many had heard the songs at all, let alone live.

First, West performed “Highlights,” a soaring track featuring El Debarge, the Dream, and Young Thug, all of whom joined him on stage with additional guests Kirk Franklin and Kelly Price as they sang and rapped against a backdrop of a moving cloudscape. Never one to forego an effective visual component, West spent the first 90 seconds on stage alone, allowing the song’s Gospel-inspired intro to pour over him. For his second serving, he debuted “Ultralight Beam,” once again inviting featured collaborators the Dream, Franklin, and Price to the stage with another of the song’s featured guests – Chance the Rapper – joining the performance. Featuring the same wardrobe and set design as the “Highlights” joint, it’s evident there is a strong perspective in the desired aesthetics for TLOP‘s live renditions and the allusions to a church setting are not demure.

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