808s & Torahs: Kanye at a bar mitzvah

Monday, February 15, 2016 - 3:37pm

This week, Michigan Daily Music Writers are sharing all of their thoughts on Kanye West. Stay tuned for more in the coming days, and check out our Life of Pablo review here.

It’s not that ridiculous to label Kanye West as the best musician ever. His creative potential knows no boundaries, his flow knows no hesitation and his ego knows no flaws. His status seems bulletproof. But in honor of the release of The Life of Pablo, his seventh solo studio album, it seems appropriate to take a look at a crucial, uninvestigated issue: just how playable is Kanye at bar/bat mitzvahs? We know Kanye can hold the summer down, but can he hold down the basement of the local Doubletree hotel on Saturday nights from 6:30-10:30? Let’s speculate.

Any bar mitzvah vet knows the night starts off with some speeches from friends. No doubt the spotlight is on the bar mitzvee during this time, but at least a little background music is needed to distract from the revolving panel of pre-pubescent hypes. Enter “Runaway,” off Kanye’s 2010 masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Now’s the time to forget all those bro fights over the Xbox — all douchebags, assholes and scumbags are forgiven here. Introspective, apologetic and triumphant, the record perfectly encapsulates the emotions of the made-for-Insta moment.

After a routine game of “Coke & Pepsi,” it’s time for the grand entrance. And is there any better soundtrack for the moment than “Touch the Sky?” The schmoozing is over, the Torah has been read and the challah has been blessed. This moment calls for self-admiration, and ’Ye’s 2005 hit serves as the ultimate mazel tov.

Now it’s time for the real party to start, which is where it gets tricky. Kanye has bonafide bangers, there’s no doubt about that, but what the party needs most are kid-friendly bangers, the type of banger you’d feel comfortable playing with your Rabbi in attendance. This methodology eliminates “Blood on the Leaves” (lots of Molly references) and “N****s in Paris” (self-explanatory), thus spurring a fallback to more appropriate classics such as “Stronger” and “Gold Digger.” In a room with such a broad range of personality, time-tested jams prove both versatile and nostalgic.

The adults want to turn up as well, and during the kids’ dinner break “Slow Jamz” seems like the perfect answer to that. The song, with its soulful tone and references to Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and Anita Baker, is most likely to resonate most with the 40-and-over crowd. It’s really just a desperate grasp to play classic-sounding shit in the hopes that old people like it.

Soon, everyone realizes that old people can’t really dance, the catered chicken nuggets are way too rubbery, the seating arrangement is pretty awkward and the seventh graders are way too hormonal to be dealing with any of this. Besides, is anyone feeling the love? It’s time for the Snowball, and one overly-Old Spiced bar mitzvah boy is ready to make his first pick, something that he totally hasn’t been thinking about for weeks. Cue up “Devil in a New Dress” to set the mood. For everything the dude is too awkward to say, Kanye is there: “Put your hands to the constellations / the way you look should be a sin, you my sensation.” ’Ye inserts a bit of romanticism into a situation that clearly needs it. He plays matchmaker with his intimate bars. Who knows? If the lucky lady is Jewish, she could be a keeper.

Enough with the young love, though. The first notes of “Hava Nagila” ring out, and that means it’s time for the Horah, a Jewish dance traditionally done during joyous times. When it’s time for bar mitzvah boy to be hoisted, “Celebration,” a fun jam off Late Registration (2005) takes over the speakers. Mr. West knows how to set the mood, and this one is of regality and commemoration. Grab a drink, grab a glass of Manischewitz. Everyone in attendance needs to know what this is. It’s a celebration, bitches.

Following all of the mishigas, the giveaway is distributed and regular sweatpants appear to be the move over joggers. Such a disappointment is the most tangible evidence to all fuccbois in attendance that it’s time to go home.

“I Am a God” plays on the way out. Rites of passage! Emotions! Yeezus! His divine influence transcends religion. His holy music defies traditional strictures. L’chaim, indeed.