15 Years of Kanye West's Late Orchestration from Abbey Road Studios

31st October 2021


15 years ago today, Kanye West released his 2006 live album Late Orchestration. It saw the Chicago rapper teaming up with a 17-piece all-female string orchestra for an ambitious concert that featured expanded and reimagined takes of his biggest tracks of the time, and could arguably be said that it is the most well-known instance of hip hop and classical music coming together.

 
Arguing that he wanted to dispel any snobbery still felt towards hip hop as an art form, Kanye explained in an interview at the time: "Being able to spit true, heartfelt rap lyrics in front of an orchestra is juxtaposing what’s thought to be two totally different forms of music… it shows you that it’s all music. We tried to alter people’s perception of the music," adding: "I love pushing the envelope… I love to perform for those people who think they’ve seen everything before. But have you seen this? Can you get with this? That’s the toughest crowd [and] I love the challenge."

However, interestingly, the performance was almost in jeopardy due to an incident with one of the world's largest mirror balls. The mirror ball in question, requested by Kanye himself, was not able to fit through the entrance of the studio! However, Kanye persevered and delivered notably one of his best performances. Watch a snippet from the live show below.
 

Late Orchestration - Through The Wire

 
Kanye West in Studio One performing *Late Orchestration*

Kanye West in Studio One performing Late Orchestration

 
It cemented Kanye's status as an artist from whom you can always expect the unexpected and one always seeking to push the genre boundaries placed around hip hop. Late Orchestration was also a performance that normalised rap acts performing with full-blown orchestras, with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Migos and even Sir Mix-A-Lot following in West's footsteps since.
 
 

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