By Randall Roberts
Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
10:44 AM CDT, September 10, 2013
Kanye West is priming the promotional machine again, this time to generate interest in his upcoming tour in support of his most recent album, "Yeezus." To that end, in a surprise appearance, he performed on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Monday night with former Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson.
With Fallon's ace backing band the Roots offering support and a half-dozen-strong tween chorus bringing Jackson 5-esque harmonies, West delivered "Bound 2," one of the most striking songs from "Yeezus."
How was it? West was West: Staring menacingly into the camera while wearing an awesome man-skirt, bouncing straight-faced while he rapped about love, sex and dirty mink coats. (At least I'm pretty sure that was a man-skirt. Fashionistas?)
In full attack mode, West went for the throat from the opening lines, calling out rapper/actor/former Kim Kardashian boytoy Ray J in an altered couplet. Referencing Ray J's famous sister, Brandy, West kicked off with the line: “Brandy’s little sister lame man he know it now/When a real brother hold you down you 'sposed to drown.” The diss was hard-earned, though. Ray J's constant jabs at West and Kardashian of late have been seen as juvenile and opportunist.
The gig itself was solid, due in large part to the Roots. West burns with a backing band, a truth that hopefully he'll take to heart while planning his forthcoming tour. For his last major solo tour, the rapper stood alone on stage for the duration, a lone man walking and rhyming. It was impressive but unnecessary. Being surrounded by fellow musicians banging out the groove, though, added so much power to West's presence on Fallon.
Watch for yourself below.
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