For most of us still left scratching our heads at Kanye West’s antics over the last couple of weeks, it’s hard to believe that he’s the same Yeezy we know and love. Looking back at West’s own groundbreaking SNL performance on May 21, 2013, he debuted the first live performance of “Black Skinhead,” followed by another YEEZUS (2013) album cut “New Slaves.” That is a decidedly different position than this new Yeezy — one that supports Candance Owens and her “Victor/Victim” mentality concerning the affects of slavery. This isn’t the ‘Ye who built upon his NBC outburst concerning George Bush and Blacks in America.
Flash forward five years, and we now see Donald Glover (as Childish Gambino) poised to take the mantle Yeezy has seemingly left behind.
To say that this episode of SNL hosted by Donald Glover was decidedly focused on Donald Trump and Kanye West is an understatement. With Rudolph Giuliani spilling the beans on reimbursing his lawyer for the Stormy Daniels payment, and Mr. West’s “Slavery Was a Choice” rant on TMZ, there was a lot to spoof — so much so, even a star-studded line up that featured the infamous porn star herself (Daniels) was actually part of the sketch. She finished the groundbreaking sketch with the line, “A Storm is a coming!” Not to be left out, then came Glover’s breakout sketch: “A Kanye Place.”
This sketch, featuring Donald Glover, was a spoof on the new horror hit A Quiet Place, highlighted by a hilarious twist. The survivors of this silent world are plagued by the recent tweets coming from the “Ye Vs. The People” rapper. As each SNL member reacts to a different sensational tweet read aloud by Glover, their bombastic reaction gets them snatched up by the beast plaguing this terror-filled world. There are two things to note about this sketch. One, while it was being aired, Glover was conveniently dropping his “This Is America” single on YouTube. Secondly, ‘Ye happened to be watching this sketch, as witnessed by his reaction on Twitter.
What was Yeezy’s response to the sketch directed at him? Well, in the 280 characters allotted, he chose to simply respond in emojis:
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 6, 2018
While Kanye is laughing at all the attention that SNL is giving him, he may not realize that Glover is quickly, and decisively, coming for his lane. He’s single-handedly controlling the once-sensitive topics in a visual or comedic manner that only the loudest producer on the Earth could do. One of Glover’s other standout sketches is “Lando’s Summit.” In this scene, he rounded up almost all the Black cast members of SNL to address the question that plagues any person of color that watches sci-fi movies: “Where are all the Black people in the future?”
With a list that held Glover reprising his role as Lando Calrissian from the upcoming Solo movie, to a lonely memorial for Mace Windu, the list of future Black characters comes up short. So short actually, a highlight of the sketch is that, for a convention meant to honor Blacks in future space, only five showed up. A running joke is that they were expecting a thousand people but had to cancel all the activities, except for meal times. This was all a prep for the live performance of “This Is America” on the long-running sketch comedy series.
Glover’s stoic-yet-raw, oftentimes emotional set, reminded us about everything we’ve come to love about seeing Yeezy on stage. He pulls no punches, he has reckless abandonment for anyone’s feelings he might be hurting, and most of all he keeps it real. Watching this performance, it seemed like the kind of set we would have expected from Kanye, and ultimately what we needed from the former Hip-Hop hero. Maybe all of those moments we took as Kanye “representing the people” were really just outbursts in the form of a call for help. If not, the visuals that Childish Gambino just brought, supported by the sounds of his producer Ludwig Göransson, were the final nails in the coffin.
Göransson, fresh off the Black Panther soundtrack, channeled joyous Afro-Caribbean voices and sounds into a chorus that starkly contrasted the deep 808s over African rhythm that back up the serious tone’s in Glover’s verses. Outside of the Migos’ “trap flow” rap style, every piece of his wordplay and intention was borrowed from West. His take on gun violence and police brutality, both visually and verbally, are classic. In short, that was a classic ‘Ye move. If we look back at the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) album, this literally could have been the blueprint for Glover’s evolution.
Honestly, it might just be the tip of the iceberg. If this is what Glover is going to be giving us on his new project, we’re sure everybody will be on time for that.