Arts Desk

Kanye West Projects His Face on D.C.

Rather than promote his albums the ol' fashioned way, Kanye West has been projecting images and playing songs from his forthcoming album, Yeezus, at locations across the world. The album is set to be released on June 18, and there is still no high-quality version of his single "New Slaves," nor a whole lot of information out there about the record, so fans are willing to flock to random buildings to see his projections. On Saturday—West's 36th birthday—Kanye's projected face invaded D.C.

By 9:45 p.m., a small crowd had gathered on the corner of 14th and W streets NW—much to the bemuseument of clueless passersby. (One of them asked why people had congregated on the corner. I wanted to smirk, "We're all here for the free crack giveaway," but I restrained myself.) As soon as it began, people sprinted across 14th Street, damn near jamming up the already-strained thoroughfare. Less than three minutes later, the whole thing was over. —Julian Kimble

Over at 16th and P streets NW, a slightly younger crowd had formed (I felt like I was at a high school dance; not cool). Foot traffic was also high thanks to a wedding reception taking place at the Carnegie Institute for Science. Then a black van pulled up, and the projection began on the side of the Beaux Arts building. Overwhelmed by the crowd, the van's driver whipped around P Street, promising to return to the church across the street. Some of the crowd chased the vehicle down P Street, and never reappeared. The projection began on the First Baptist Church, with a small crowd right in front, and others (like myself) balancing on a 16th Street median like it was a tightrope. Two members of the wedding party strolled over to catch the show, which was likely the closest they'd get to a celebrity appearance at the reception. —JK

There was a decent crowd of young people and middle-aged hipsters at 10th and U streets NW. By now, most of the world has heard Kanye West's new-ish single, "New Slaves," yet they still came out to see 'Ye rap about racial segregation and the prison industrial complex. By 10:45 p.m., though, the crowd got antsy. Some left, some cussed ("Where the fuck is this shit, Kanye?!?!," said the dude beside me before he left in a huff.) Once the projection began, we realized the sound didn't work. —Marcus J. Moore

At the H Street NW location (bottom right), the crowd was much smaller—but the sound worked, and it was easy enough to get in and out of the area. —MJM

Around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, another projection took place outside of Smith Commons on H Street in NE (bottom left). This one was a surprise—it was not included on the list of locations. That probably explains why very few people turned up. But this was actually one of the most appealing displays: The images were projected on top of Gaia's enormous "Dusk of H Street" mural, so it looked as though the rooster man was pulling back his classical robe to reveal Kanye's face. A nice touch, whether it was intentional or not. —JK

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