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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Kanye West continues his rap on Bush

September 12, 2005|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

"It's been a crazy past couple of weeks," Kanye West told the crowd at the Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre near the end of an MTV-sponsored concert Saturday.

It was a reference to the controversy that has followed the bestselling rapper's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment during a Sept. 2 telethon to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

And Saturday he had more to say, scoffing at suggestions that he should fear retaliation.

"I can think of a lot of worse things that could happen to me, like how 'bout not eating for five days?" he said on stage, evoking the experiences of many stranded in New Orleans after the hurricane. "Or how 'bout not knowing where your [expletive] family is?"

West then mocked Bush and other officials who he claimed went to the ravaged Gulf Coast region to "kiss some black people."

The comments (which producers said would be included in the show when it airs Sunday as part of MTV2's "$2 Bill" series) provided context for his earlier swipe at Bush. And his performance provided context for that amplification, which followed the potent one-two punch of "Jesus Walks," the dramatic plea for spiritual strength that powered his 2004 debut album, "The College Dropout," and the new "Hey Mama," a heartfelt ode to his mother.

Backed by DJ A-Trak and a seven-piece string section, West brought a sense of urgency to the show. He's still not the most dynamic rapper or performer -- a fact made clear when he was paired Saturday with the electrifying Common on "Get Em High" and "Go." But his mix of bluster, earnestness and creative reach bodes well for his upcoming tour, if not a career in politics.

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