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Kanye West Dedicates Coachella 2011 Set to His Mama


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Kanye West stripped down for his flawless Coachella 2011 headlining set that closed out the 12th year of the internationally renown music festival. With only aid from Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon on distorted backup vocals and the Clipse‘s Pusha-T during ‘Runaway,’ West didn’t rely on the usual overload of major guest collaborators — both Rihanna and Katy Perry who Kanye has singles with (‘All of the Lights’ and ‘E.T.,’ respectively) had been spotted at the festival over the weekend sparking rumors of walk-ons. Displaying his powerful vocal athleticism on a 23-song setlist, Kanye West, the guy that toasts douchebags and a–holes, bared his soul to the crammed Coachella crowd after performing ‘Love Lockdown,’ off his fourth album ’808s & Heartbreak.’

“When I made that album I was in a very dark place in my life — losing everything that was important to me,” Kanye West told the crowd. The album was released in November 2008, one year after his mother unexpectedly passed away from a freak plastic surgery-related incident while Kanye was in London. “And when I was making my last album ['My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'] I kept saying I can’t wait to perform ‘Power’ at Coachella …” The crowd screamed in approval. “So this is the most important festival to me since my mama passed.”

But even more interestingly, West confessed that in his darkest hour he had even thought of ending it all. “There were times that I thought about not being here…,” he said pausing before ‘Heartless,’ “but you make it all worth it.”

As if the music wasn’t enough, as if the artistic delivery that included two dozen ballerinas and West starting the show from a podium lifted up in the middle of the crowd wasn’t enough, ‘Ye made Coachella 2011 the festival where he let go of his inner bastard. West usually never smiles during performances and there wasn’t a moment during his Coachella 2011 set where he’s stopped smiling.

“Everybody do the ‘Power’ clap … clap-clap,” West cheered the crowd on as his band segued into the bom-bom-bom of ‘Jesus Walks.’ He took breaks by playing fun interludes like the Chicago Bulls starting lineup anthem, a tip of the hat to his hometown and the NBA’s current No. 1 basketball team.

“We gonna play some mothaf–kin’ hits right now!” he said before a medley of all his collaborations with M.I.A. (‘Swagga Like Us’), Coldplay‘s Chris Martin (‘Homecoming’), Perry (‘E.T.’) and Jamie Foxx (‘Gold Digger.’)

But for his last song of the evening, Kanye took it down a notch and got sentimental again, closing with ‘Hey Mama,’ the thank you to his mother for putting up with his music ambitions when she, a professor, had pushed for higher education.

“This show is dedicated to you mama!” Kanye yelled up into the desert night. And then he finished the set fighting back his tears while singing, “Forrest Gump mama said, life is like a box of chocolates/ My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate/ Somethin’ to fall back on, you could profit with/ But still supported me when I did the opposite/ Now I feel like it’s things I gotta get/ Things I gotta do, just to prove to you/ You was getting through, can the choir please/ Give me a verse of ‘You, Are So Beautiful To Me’ …”


Watch Kanye West Perform ‘Hey Mama’

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