Kanye West's Project Wyoming, which was advertised as a local version of the star-studded album-release party he held last week in Jackson Hole, took place last night in Chicago and Miami. A video teaser showed footage of beautiful mountains, majestic horses, and a bumping party around a massive bonfire.
Because there are no mountains in Florida, anyone expecting the Miami edition to be an exact replica of the real thing would have been fooling themselves. But even so, what attendees got was truly subpar.
Although the location for the event was announced as the old RC Cola Plant in Wynwood, it was actually held across the street in a vacant lot. The setup was extremely spartan, amounting to some folding tables, benches, a portable bar, and several large speakers playing rap — not even Kanye's music until about an hour in. A trailer was set up in the back. There was a campfire, but it was a fake one with plastic logs.
It was basically a high-profile, low-rent backyard kegger.
The main attraction was exclusive Kanye West merchandise. The majority of the attendees, mostly young people in Yeezy-branded shoes, tour T-shirts, and other streetwear brands, spent the event waiting in a massive queue for clothing created by the artist specifically for Miami. When I arrived, the goods weren't there yet. An hour in, they still hadn't arrived. An hour after that, we were told they were still 45 minutes away.
All of this might have been tolerable, except as soon as the event began, the sky started pouring. A cold, pelting torrent drenched everyone in the enormous line, which was uncovered. There were plenty of awnings in the party area, and some people in line had umbrellas, but the majority had to deal with being soaked through and having their $500 Yeezy shoes ruined. At one point, party MC YesJulz, whose company had organized the event, congratulated superfans for waiting in the rain. Instead of hearing kind words, I would've preferred a venue where I wasn't at the mercy of Mother Nature — or would that not have fit the "vibe"?
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What the event really revealed is how the sale of so-called streetwear and artist merchandise is an enormous con. Seemingly every single rapper nowadays has followed in the footsteps of labels such as Supreme and Off-White, producing clothing that usually amounts to no more than a series of screen-printed T-shirts sold at a substantial markup. It's a cheap masquerade of fashion where a rapper can slap a name on a sweater and profit off his biggest fans. Kanye is by far the greatest offender because instead of merely taking people's money, he wasted our valuable time by hyping a unique experience and delivering the retail equivalent of Waiting for Godot. Why does one of the biggest artists in the world make his fans jump through such hoops simply to give him more money?
Of course, attendees still seemed to have fun. Outside the guardrails, people drank and danced along to Kanye tunes new and old. Some wishful thinkers even thought the man himself might actually show up. You would have enjoyed Project Wyoming if you're the kind of happy, resilient, Golden Retriever type of person who can make a party out of any occasion. Unfortunately, I consider myself more catlike, and if there's one thing anyone should know about cats, it's that they don't like getting wet.