Hip hop caught a really big L at last night’s 12.12.12 Concert For Sandy Relief. In a perfect world, where music fans’ interests were in harmonious alignment, Kanye West performing between The Who and Billy Joel would have been a well-received and seamless transition. In reality, however, Yeezy seemed to hit wall with the big-ticket 12.12.12 audience, performing a set that — for an artist known for cultivating fan enthusiam at his shows — was not only incapable of fully forming a connection, but also appeared to drain Kanye and chip away at his normal passionate delivery. There solely to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, it soon became clear that the G.O.O.D. Music capo was frustrated with the room.
Back in February, Kanye’s big brother Jay-Z hosted two consecutive nights in New York City’s distinguished Carnegie Hall. Bringing out the city’s uppercrust, Beyonce’s husband joined hands with the United Way and sold out both shows to raise money for a cause of his own, the Shawn Carter Foundation. But last night was different. The baby boomer crowd at MSG didn’t buy tickets to see Kanye West like folks did for Hov at Carnegie — they came to bathe in the nostalgia of beloved rock acts that they’ve been playing for decades. Unfortunately for Kanye, the booking itself was a recipe for rejection.
At the Carnegie Hall shows, Jay spoke about washing away the “lines that separate us” while he soaked-up a moment of triumph; bringing hip hop to a predominantly affleunt crowd in a fancy New York venue was quite the accomplishment. Drawing attention to race, socio-economic standing and heavy bass was in his script. Kanye came face-to-face with that line at last night’s benefit concert, and as a sacrifical lamb for the hip hop culture, managed to finish his set — albeit with a slaughtered ego. For the rap enthusiasts watching, a communal cringe was strongly felt. Will hip hop ever be allowed to sit at the grown-up’s table, or is it still, as we approach 2013, too marginal of a genre? One can only hope that this incident will force ‘Ye to rediscover his underdog-driven maniacal work-ethic and get back in the studio so that, next time, things might go a bit smoother.