NEW YORK (AP) — The volume high and anticipation higher, Kanye West spent more than an hour Thursday at Madison Square Garden blasting his new album to a cheering crowd of about 20,000 as models stood high on a platform wearing his new shoe and clothing collection.
It was an emotional moment for West and his family as his brother-in-law, Lamar Odom, strode to a seat, the first time he’d attended a public event since he was hospitalized in critical condition last October after he was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel with cocaine in his system.
As West walked Odom to his seat with the Kardashian and Jenner families, the crowd cheered and shouted Odom’s name.
West took to a bank of sound boards to present the album surrounded by fans, some of whom paid in the thousands for tickets. More watched while the show was beamed live into movie theaters around the globe.
The album’s title was a mystery until only recently when the rapper settled on “The Life of Pablo.” As West joyfully presented his music, models stood high on a platform, surrounded by others just below wearing athletic-inspired looks, patterned sweaters and other designs in his Yeezy Season 3. They were projected onto huge screens. There they stood until West left the floor to join his family and friends backstage.
Clothing-wise, his designs appeared more refined than his previous season in desert tones of yellow and taupe.
North, West’s 2-year-old daughter with Kim Kardashian, danced along to the music, her mother, grandmother Kris Jenner, aunts and family friends nearby.
At times, West rambled, thanking everyone from his late mother to Anna Wintour, who was in attendance along with other names in fashion, music and entertainment, including Jennifer Hudson, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Rosie O’Donnell, Melanie Griffith 50 Cent and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing.
West urged the crowd to fight for the freedom to create.
“If you’re going to be an artist you just gotta do what’s in your heart and fight for every dream that you may dream, whatever discipline it may be,” he said.
“I just want to bring as much beauty to the world as possible,” added the 38-year-old West.
West, using a heavy dose of salty language, also teased a new video game that pays tribute to his late mother, showing her in animation on the big screens as an angel with wings and promising, “More to come.”
He described the new music as “really a gospel album,” taking an emotional pause as he explained it couldn’t have happened without “God really holding me down,” his voice trailing off. “It’s been a hard struggle.”
Jenn Kaye, 18, of Brooklyn stood in line with her friend Eric Lesser, also 18, at one of the merchandise booths Kanye showed off on Twitter ahead of the show. What was she going to buy? “Everything.”
“I grew up listening to Kanye from my brother,” said Kaye, who is studying physical therapy at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey. “He doesn’t care, like, about anything. He just does him and it’s so inspirational to see someone who gets that much hate always rise above everything and always be unique, so that’s why I’m here.”
Carlos Rivera, 19, of the Bronx shelled out $90 for a blue “I Feel Like Pablo” hoodie he bought at the show. The psychology major at the College of Mount Saint Vincent also works in an auto body shop with his dad.
Why did he choose it?
“That’s the name of Kanye West’s new album and that’s my idol,” he said.