Rapper Kanye West is many, many, many things, but a conformist he most certainly is not.
The entertainer is holding a second listening party for his forthcoming album, “Donda,” named for his late mother, and while the music world is mostly abuzz with the apparent delay of the album’s formal release, the event has captured headlines for a different reason.
And no, it’s not the reported replica of his childhood home that’s been constructed in Chicago’s Soldier Field for the occasion, although that’s got tongues wagging, too, as the New York Post reported.
The venue will not be requiring fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, protocols at Soldier Field will be in line with city of Chicago rules that require masks “in all public indoor spaces (clubs, suite hallways, elevators, etc.) of the stadium except while actively eating and drinking.” Masks in outdoor areas are optional, but recommended for those who are not vaccinated.
However, the Sun-Times reported:
“The decision to not require proof of vaccination or negative test results for the Kanye event is in line with Live Nation’s announcement earlier this month that leaves entry mitigations up to the individual artists at all of its U.S. events and tours.”
And if the decision is up to Kanye, the decision is clear.
“It’s Kanye’s party, and he’ll throw caution to the wind if he wants to,” the clearly incredulous rock ‘n’ roll publication Rolling Stone cheekily commented this week, reporting the protocols for the Thursday evening event.
This may be enough to shock many in today’s obedient and conformist music industry, but Chicago Parks officials are assuring the public that it’s all really quite kosher.
For one, the event will be held outdoors, and it’s also been reduced from 63,000 fans to just 38,000, 60% the capacity of Soldier Field.
“Kanye West’s performance is one of many examples that show that Chicago can be open and safe at the same time,” Michele Lemons, spokeswoman for Chicago Parks District, told The Chicago Tribune.
“We have worked with Soldier Field on COVID-19 safety protocols, as we have other venues including Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Fields, and feel this event can be safely held with the proper mitigation efforts in place.”
This is the third listening party that West will be holding for “Donda,” although the album still has yet to be released. Rolling Stone noted that he has held two previous events in Atlanta since July and while neither required proof of vaccination, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where his second event was held earlier this month, announced the day of the show it would be offering Pfizer shots on site.
Last year, West revealed ahead of his proposed 2020 presidential run (remember that?) that he’d had COVID-19 but dismissed the vaccine, which had yet to be released at the time, as the “mark of the beast.”
Perhaps his views on the vaccine have changed, but his willingness to virtue signal for the mob mentality majority appears to be still quite non-existent.
Although West triggered pop culture to tears in 2018 with his emphatic support for figures like Candace Owens and President Donald Trump, he has since distanced himself decidedly from the MAGA and Blexit movements.
One thing is for certain: West is the only one calling the shots in his life. Perhaps this has always been his great appeal to fans — he is a true original.
Even in our era of mass conformity and hysterical social pressure within the entertainment community to “trust the science,” trust the cultural trends, and trust the government, West’s genuine individuality still resonates.
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