Last night, I tweeted at Kanye West for the first time ever. Did I think he'd read the tweet? No, duh. But I did want to document that my feet hurt a lot, and that it was his fault entirely.
A substantial group gathered under the Flaunt magazine tent in Wynwood waiting for Kanye to arrive. The audience steadily melted, along with the mud on the totally naked performers' bodies. We -- nude ladies and black-clad crowd -- all ended up collapsing slowly to the floor with fatigue. Kanye was supposed to be the cherry on top of the dirt slathered, human sundae that was L.A. artist Vanessa Beecroft's performance. Sure, it wasn't billed that he was definitely attending, but there's no doubt he was the "special guest."
"For the love of Yeezus!" we silently screamed, "Show us some 'Mercy,' 'Ye!" But the whole night was certainly not ruined by the lack of a ramble about rappers making designer clothes (for the people who cannot afford them). Nope. About 20 minutes of Kendrick Lamar at the end of the night almost completely erased the memory of that grueling hour and a half that we spent waiting with fear for vaginas to finally emerge from beneath thinning mud. And we're not exaggerating, Kendrick really, really did it.
Adjacent to the Flaunt exhibition was the Mana Wynwood space. It's the building where iii Points brought DJ Shadow, Jamie xx, and James Murphy to perform only a few months back. This time -- hosted by 3P Productions, Flaunt, and the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami -- the stage was prepped for Kendrick Lamar and his Top Dawg Entertainment label mate SZA.
For Basel, the vast warehouse area became an intimate and quite lovely space. There was a red glow that warmed up the dark walls. A large mural looked like a Japanese-inspired tattoo, sans coy fish, and long boxy sticks were used to create both chandeliers and a tree-like DJ booth. And perched up in that booth was local wunderkind DZA, alongside Airtime. I don't think anyone can play more fun music every single set than resident Peachfuzz DJ, DZA. Every time, he gets the people's booties popping, their memories churning, and their mouths singing along.
The place was packed from the second doors opened, but it never felt claustrophobic. (And I'm a serious claustrophobe.)
SZA came on early. She was the antidote to the sticky, icky Basel fever. She held her own with chill, Kate Bush-inspired tunes and a strong voice. She was flanked by a keyboardist (who was straight jam-jamming), a drummer, and two female DJs. Though smoke and images from a projector obscured her at times, she never let her friendly energy and powerful presence be obscured. At one point, the singer even sweetly explained how to pronounce her name to the curious crowd.
The audience was entirely a mixed bag of art people, real people, locals, and huge Kendrick fans. One particularly "hip"-looking girl was even wearing Google Glass, which instantly removed all actual hip points from her tally.
It took almost an eternity for Lamar to take the stage. But the DJs kept everyone saying, "Yo, this is my jam!" and singing along.
When Kendrick finally came out around 1 a.m., the place got stupid and everyone, even the art crowd, seemed to be singing along. By the third song in, all the voices chanted "Drank!" to Lamar's call. Though he only performed about seven songs, he did an adequate amount of hyping the crowd with, "Is this the livest motherfucking side!?"
He pounded through the hits (which is what everyone came for, lezbe honest): "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" and "Fuckin' Problems" included. Also, the almost romantic "Poetic Justice" -- a song that, at first, offended my '90s sensibilities with the Janet Jackson "Any Time, Any Place" sample, a staple for 30- and 40-somethings sexing all through the past two decades. But if I were like 20 now, that would maybe be a "Yo, this is my jam!"
Short and sweet, Kendrick knew how to give it to us good. The set was done with his saying he was going to come out and party with us all.
Everyone was confused that it was over so soon, but pleased it happened. It was 1:30, and during Basel, that means the night is young. So many other parties to crash, celebs to stalk, and Kanyes to not see.
Side Note: We heard from someone that the models in the Vanessa Beecroft performance were both local and came from as far as Orlando. They had to keep them freezing beforehand, so that they could cover them in clay. Some of the girls had their periods, and they had to have their tampon strings cut. And Kanye couldn't even show. Tisk, tisk.
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