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Kanye bootlegs himself: Why you should hear the rapper’s Coachella recording

Kanye bootlegs himself: Why you should hear the rapper’s Coachella recording (photo)

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On Monday, Kanye West released a free recording of his entire 96-minute set from last month’s Coachella. Split into 32 tracks, the show gathers most of West’s hits–or at least glimpses of them–into one compressed, downloadable file. To that end, it reads a little like a greatest hits mixtape, gathering “Gold Digger” alongside a crowd-gone-crazy version of “All of the Lights,” “Power” right beside a thundering rendition of “Jesus Walks.” It’s a testament to Kanye’s pop status, a reminder that–for all his controversy, ego, Twitter tangents and genuinely surprising ideas–he’s got hits, and we know them. I’ve been listening to the set again and again all week, and each time, I’m surprised anew by West’s canonical barrage.

But if you’ve ever been a jam-band junkie, or simply listened to most any live recording, you know that concert tapes often sound sort of crummy. They’re not initially mixed for headphones, and they’re not the proper avenue for crafting flawless takes of tunes from multiple takes. They require a certain suspension of expectations, so that you hear unnecessary echo, muffled or garbled segments and crowd noise as atmosphere, not distractions. West’s Coachella tape is no different: One portion of “Jesus Walks” sounds horrible, and one of the set’s few guests, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, out-sings West into shameful submission on “Monster.” He and Pusha T never quite nail the timing of “Runaway,” either. All the strange interludes and monologues are here, too, stripped of their flashing-lights and ballerina-accompanied mystique. You just have to listen.

It’s a strange look for one of the most recognizable pop stars in the world, releasing imperfect versions of his biggest hits for free simply because he can. You don’t generally consider hip-hop to be the domain of live releases, as the ship is generally run pretty tightly by a DJ who plays the instrumental track upon request and stands back to let the artist deliver the verses and hooks people know from the radio. West played with a full band, sure, but you get the sense that even this set is one that leaves little margin for error and is bound to be repeated. But on these tracks, even without watching video of the night, there’s the inescapable feeling that West is busting his ass, leaving all his energy and emotion on the stage. From the moment the crowd first freaks out until he has them waiting for more during a “Chariots of Fire” interlude, you understand that he’s the bandleader and the crowdleader, a puppet master capable of a performance with as much movement and structure as the best rock set. It’s a musical movement that bears circulating.

Writing for Spin after the performance, William Goodman described West’s Coachella set as the rapper’s “bold, singular artistic moment.” By releasing the live recording of the set for free, you get the sense that West feels the same way, too. Perfect engineering or no, this tape shows that West is an entertainer unafraid of any form’s natural bounds.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…