As if Thanksgiving weekend weren't zany enough, Tampa Bay will have an extra eccentric visitor this year. Make room at the table for Kanye West, the most polarizing musician of the 21st century.
West, 36, will play the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday, Nov. 30 — the first time he's been here since 2008. The rapper's in-your-face artistry and life with Kim Kardashian (with whom he recently had daughter North West) either thrills people or drives them to invective.
And don't even get Taylor Swift fans started; after his "I'm gonna let you finish..." speechus interruptus stunt at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Swifties have been out for blood.
Me? I'm a proud West fan, and have been since I journalistically shadowed him at the 2005 Grammy Awards, back when he was a rookie and the militaristic epiphany of Jesus Walks was the unlikeliest hit of the year.
West came off as equal parts childlike and arrogant, yet never phony. What you hear on his records is stone-cold truth, the ongoing shrink session in his madhatter head pressed to vinyl.
Ask yourself this: On today's radio, how many people are being themselves? How many people are being honest?
With Kanye, you're hearing a genuine slice of his cerebellum. New album Yeezus, with ferocious first single Black Skinhead, is downright jarring in its approach, the sound of a man who's self-aware that he's self-obsessed.
The last time West went on tour his conceptual idea was to wander around a lunar landscape stage setup and rap as if he were a sad, stranded astronaut. Oh yeah, it was bizarre, funny, awesome; it didn't always work, but you just try looking away from the Louis Vuitton Don.
He's an even bolder artist now; he's used to people thinking he's completely bonkers. So who knows what he'll come up with?
Tickets will reportedly go on sale Friday via ticketmaster.com, although information for the Times Forum date is still coming in. Until then, you can rest assured there will be a hot debate between the Kanye faithful and the West detractors.
Yep, this is going to be one nutty Thanksgiving.
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected]