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Monday, June 29, 2015

Watch Kanye West Briefly Cover Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 3:14 PM

click to enlarge kanye.jpg
Kanye West's headlining set at Glastonbury this weekend didn't exactly go as planned.

Before Yeezus even took the stage he had to duck and dodge headline after headline about how 134,000+ people signed a petition saying they wanted his set cancelled and replaced with a rock band. The controversy was mostly rooted in the off-base and ignorant notion that rappers don't possess talent and that rockers do (yawn), or the idea that Glastonbury should stick with its not-so-rap roots. 

Whether or not this whole hubbub weighed into West's decision to open his set with a rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't clear, but it seems to be a reasonable assumption, especially considering the cover led right into West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing."

West likely said something like, "Oh they want rock? I'm a musical genius, I can do rock better than anybody! I invented rock!" But the truth (visionary streams of consciousness aside) is that Yeezus, a talented artist, couldn't quite hit the notes required to pull off the classic rock tune. But then again, why should he have to? 
West isn't the first rapper to awkwardly cover a rock hit at Glastonbury. Jay Z paved the way in 2008 with a horrible rendition of "Wonderwall" after a similar controversy arose when he was announced as a headliner. Although most people signing the petition would say their rock supremacist views are purely musical, critics have pointed to race as playing a factor as well.
Amina Taylor wrote in the Guardian, "If hip-hop, the music that has been the soundtrack for my life, is not welcome, then I don’t feel welcome either. There has never been any public outcry about black, non-guitar acts performing at Glastonbury (Dizzee Rascal, Al Green, Jimmy Cliff), just so long as they stay at the bottom of the bill. Know thy place. Move up to headline status and things suddenly take a different turn. Do well, but not too well; that will most definitely be held against you."

According to Rolling Stone, Lee Nelson, a British comedian wearing a Leezus shirt, hopped on stage during "Black Skinhead" in an attempt to throw the rapper off his game, but was quickly removed. West was forced to restart the song. There were also images of West's wife, Kim Kardashian, from her sex tape with Ray J flown on banners in the crowd

Tough crowd. 

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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.


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