It’s not every day that an artist turns his album listening party into a nationwide tour, but then again, Kanye West is not an average artist. While the world waited for the release of Ye, West, with the help of famed content creator turned artist manager YesJulz of 1AM, was busy coordinating the travel for his friends, press, influencers, and others to join him in what ended up being a legendary listening party held in the heart of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Not only were guests afforded the opportunity to listen to the album with its creator, but they were also given access to limited edition merch. While the hoodies and T-shirts were free for attendees, West later put them on his website where his team reported sales of $500,000 in just 30 minutes. Most brands could only dream of numbers like that.
Which leads us to present day. Whether you like him or not, West’s influence and impact on culture is undeniable and he consistently redefines the way people approach his music, which is what makes his next move all the more interesting. West reenlisted Julz and her team to produce similar listening parties all over the country, with Miami, Chicago, and New York getting their own custom merchandise too. Just like that, Project Wyoming was born and its mission was one of shared experience. Artists have been doing pop-up stores at tour stops for years—even West did it for the Saint Pablo tour. This however, is different, mostly because West is not on tour. Quite the opposite, he’s still working on the release of three new albums and the listening parties for those albums. He simply wanted to recreate the initial album release experience for his fans all over the country.
Last night’s Project Wyoming listening party took place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—right alongside the East River. Much like in Wyoming, the party boasted fire pits with s’mores, a bar, the same eardrum-piercing speakers, and of course merch. The DJ started the night playing classic West hits from all of his albums. It culminated with the newest, from start to finish. Just as extraordinary is that given all the hype and chaos West (and his parties) bring with them, this was calm and orderly. That may not seem like anything worth noting, but when the smallest of events can cause chaos at the door, it’s refreshing to see a high profile party produced at such a caliber.
We spoke with the project manager for “Wyoming NY,” who informed us that Julz and company had originally reached out on Monday to enlist their help putting together the party, only to have them abruptly cancel it on Tuesday. Much to his surprise, Julz called again on Wednesday morning informing him that the event was back on, however they wanted it to be outside and more aligned with the original Wyoming listening party. Within 24 hours the team was able to put the entire experience together to accommodate the sheer volume of people they knew would eventually appear.
Everyone who made the trip to the Brooklyn event was pleasantly surprised by being able to experience Ye in the way that West intended them to. West famously once announced that everyone who wanted his Yeezy sneakers would, in fact, be able to get them and if last night’s democratic approach to sharing his music showed us anything, it’s that West fans should be hopeful. Everyone who wanted merch got it. Everyone who wanted to connect to other fans had that opportunity. West used his prowess and powers to amplify a listening party into a new type of musical experience—one we hope to see more of.
Images courtesy of The Shark