On Wednesday afternoon, I was told I’d be going with DJ Bonics to the Kanye West x Kid Cudi album listening party in Santa Clarita, California. As a Kanye fan from day one, I’ve been pretty alone in my personal views lately with continuing to support an artist with such controversial views. Although his recent stances have been deemed reckless, I knew I would still be listening to the albums he would be releasing this month, and was extremely excited to be able to have the opportunity to fly to the exact location of his presence to listen to Kids See Ghosts for the first time.
The entire journey was one big adventure. It reminded me of having a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Other than knowing we were going to Santa Clarita, the rest of the journey was completely unknown. Once we landed in Los Angeles, we were taken to our hotel, then asked to hop in a Black Car that would take us to a parking lot with four huge buses that would be taking us to the destination of where the listening session would be held. Sitting with other industry professionals, the entire ride was filled with dialogue of guesses as to where we are actually going. Six Flags was a popular assumption, but we quickly found out that was not the case and continued wallowing in our imagination as the ride continued.
As the darkness hit, we pulled up to what seemed like an abandoned ranch in the middle of a desert like field. Walking in, there was a buffet, open bar, and an old haunted looking house with a pit in the front where the Kids See Ghosts merchandise was located. The pit had workers tossing hoodies and hats to guests surrounding it, creating a true NFL-like experience to grab what you could while it was tossed in the air. By the time Bonics and I got to the pit, all the hoodies had been taken, but we were able to snatch multiple black hats with the embroidered details of the listening party on the front in white.
As we continued our journey thru the ranch, we noticed this large hill that led to yet another small haunted looking house at the very top. I saw a large group of people gathering at the top and were stopped by a gate that looked like it was used for cattle. I ran up to the front of the bunch in hopes to be a part of what seemed to be the experience I was waiting for. After about 15 minutes of waiting in the bunch, the gatekeepers slowly opened the gate, allowing a very small amount of the crowd in. I bombarded my way through, and found myself with about 30 others heading to a bonfire pit directly in front of the haunted house with a mountain of speakers in front of it. The fire started and reached heights to what seemed like the heavens, and we saw Kanye and Cudi walk out with huge smiles on their faces alongside security, Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner. The applause was roaring, hugs were given, and everyone circled around the fire. Then, the beat dropped.
Standing by the fire directly across from me was Kanye West. As the first song began, we made eye contact with huge smiles on our faces and continued to nod our head in enjoyment to what felt like magic coming thru the speakers. The entire experience felt extremely tribal. It was impossible to not feel connected. The crowd danced around the fire and brought some of the craziest energy I’ve ever felt. Kanye and Cudi were beaming in a very brotherly fashion, and as soon as the track “Reborn” hit, my brain was finally comprehending how amazing this album was. I backed away from the fire for a moment just to truly dive into the music and away from the stimulation. My brain was saying “Yup. This project is the best one of the month so far”.
As soon as the music stopped, the applause roared, people hugged, laughed, yelled in awe— all responses you would imagine from how a once in a lifetime mind-blowing experience felt for the day one fans. After about 20 minutes, the project played back again, and this time the energy escalated to not just trying to get a photo of Kanye & Cudi, but truly listening to the project and singing along. It was during this second listen when I noticed the voice of Yasiin Bey (the former Mos Def), and also fell in love with the title track “Kids See Ghosts”. I danced my heart out and connected with people around me. Once the project ended, we all knew we bonded for life.
The entire adventure was extremely inspirational, and changed my views of how I want an album experience to be. I was proud and humbled to be there, and I await another album experience to attempt to top it. Kids See Ghosts was all flames.