Kanye West Debuts ‘Yeezus’ Tracks, Rails Against Radio At NYC’s Governors Ball

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Kanye West at Governors Ball 2013. (Photo by Maria Ives,

Kanye West at Governors Ball 2013. (Photo by Maria Ives,

Jillian Mapes
Jillian Mapes, Staff
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With just a little over a week out from release date (June 18), many have been wondering why Kanye West hasn’t released a proper single off Yeezus yet. At his headlining performance at New York’s Governors Ball Sunday night (June 9), ‘Ye revealed a few reasons. Let’s just say we shouldn’t be expecting “Black Skinhead,” “New Slaves” or any of the new songs West debuted at Gov Ball to end up on the radio anytime soon — and that’s his choice.

“This is the part of the show where I start complaining about s*** — justify s***, you know how it is,” he started one of his signature on-stage rants during “Clique.” “I’m just happy to be making music, happy to be able to perform that s*** for y’all. You know with this album we ain’t drop no single to radio, we ain’t got no big NBA campaign or nothing like that. S***, we ain’t got no cover. We just made some real music and you know like, back when I used to make albums and s***. You know like, back when i used to make albums and s*** like couple years ago, three years ago, four years ago we’d go away and work on our album for five months or so, and we’d have to hold the album to like, August or September or ’til the perfect moment and shit, being like, ‘I think you’re gonna sell more because you have more audience and radio and s***.’ Well honestly, when I listen to radio, that ain’t where I wanna be no more. Honestly, at this point, I could give a f*** about selling a million records as long as I put out an album this summer that y’all can rock to all motherf***ing summer. And I don’t give a f*** that the label’s saying I can sell more records. And at this point, I don’t really give a f*** about outside opinions. All I give a f*** about is my motherf***ing clique.

attachment 6 Kanye West Debuts Yeezus Tracks, Rails Against Radio At NYCs Governors Ball

attachment 10 Kanye West Debuts Yeezus Tracks, Rails Against Radio At NYCs Governors Ball

With its distinctly industrial vibe, Yeezus doesn’t exactly sound like a conventional summer album. Previously-revealed songs “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” are among the harshest-sounding, though, from what can be deduced from the new songs revealed at Governors Ball. There was a slight modern EDM vibe in the new song being called “On Site,” while the song being called “I Am A God” — appropriate given its self-idolizing lyrics — sounds a bit like NIN. There was one other new song — or at least a new interlude, as it was quite brief — played after “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves,” which kicked off the set at around 9:50 p.m. (20 minutes late). West played for his allotted hour and a half, albeit that was over schedule since he started late.

The provocative graphics first introduced by West during his recent SNL performance made their way into the set. “Not For Sale” buttons punctuated “Black Skinhead,” as did incredibly powerful imagery featuring West clad in a KKK-esque hood, albeit black in color instead of white. West also introduced a few other visual themes that were carried out, most notably a fighter pilot/jet motif that morphed from patriotic in coloring to neon rainbow. The actual configuration of the show was also interesting, with his band strewn vertically on the brightly-lit high-rise that took up almost the entirety of the stage. West spent much of the set on a small platform set up amongst the crowd, which was also surrounded by large spotlights.

attachment 4 Kanye West Debuts Yeezus Tracks, Rails Against Radio At NYCs Governors Ball

Unsurprisingly, the crowd was at its most animated for the handful of hits West played. “Power” featured what felt like the entirety of the festival clapping along — literally thousands of folks crammed together as far as the eye could see — and “Stronger” felt new with a more abrasive beat. But it was “All of the Lights” and “Runaway” that “really got the people going,” as the Throne would say.

That said, it was almost strange to hear ‘Ye play early material, seeing as he’s actively trying to create a new narrative around himself. He tried to tweak a number of the old songs, but it’s hard to tell if the crowd valued that — they were screaming along too loudly to even notice.

Kanye West Governors Ball setlist – June 9, 2013:
“Black Skinhead”*
“New Slaves”*
Unknown (or at least a new interlude)*
“On Site”*
“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
“I Am A God”*
“Jesus Walks”
“Say You Will”
“Flashing Lights”
“All of the Lights”
“I Don’t Like” (Chief Keef cover/GOOD Music remix)
“Good Life”
“All Falls Down”
“Diamonds From Sierra Leone”/’Diamonds” (remix of Rhianna song)
“Black Skinhead”

* denotes new song

(all photos by Maria Ives,

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