I just went to one of Kanye West’s ‘Pablo’ pop-up stores. Unless you live under a rock or are fortunate enough to not have the emotional capacity to care about something this dumb, Kanye West announced that he was going to have several pop-up stores launch throughout the world this weekend. They’re selling overpriced grandpa hats, $75 t-shirts, and $400 denim jackets that will make you look like as much of a dickhead as Kanye West looks like on a daily basis.
For the sake of clarity, I went to the Pablo store opening in Houston’s Galleria, which is a nightmare to begin with. If you want to stop reading now because you hate Kanye West in the first place, I wouldn’t blame you. I drove to The Galleria. I walked around. I never went in. And then I drove home in the rain. That’s your too-long-didn’t-read version. But there’s just so much more than that.
I searched Twitter all morning. Between the terms “pablo” and “houston,” I really didn’t get anywhere. My feeling was that people either didn’t care about the Pablo pop-up, or Twitter was taking down mean things said about it because Twitter has been doing weird shit like that lately. I decided it would be best if I just went around lunch. “The lines will dwindle by then,” I told myself. “I bet I’ll wait, like, an hour and then I’ll be out of there.”
When I arrived at The Galleria (which is essentially just a bougie name for a mall), I had no idea where to go. Kanye West’s website had only addresses for the pop-ups, so I figured I’d just take a shot in the dark and forge my way to the Pablo store like Magellan. Driving around, there were no signals that there was an actual pop-up store. No signs. No crowds. Nothing. Just your standard, shitty Houston traffic.
I parked in the lower level of the parking garage and made my way in through the Neiman Marcus doors. I hate talking to pretty much everyone when I’m in a mall, so I decided to walk around until I saw the store and/or the mass of people attempting to waste their money in the store. And that’s where my troubles began, because like I said, there was zero signage anywhere telling every clearly confused patron where to go.
This is when I started profiling people who I assumed were trying to go to the same destination as I was. I stood in the middle of the mall and attempted to find a group of young looking kids who appeared as though they probably listened to Chance The Rapper and/or followed Four Pins on Twitter. If you don’t know what that means, that’s fine. It’s essentially just saying I was looking for trendy kids who would make fun of the fact that 1) I own a pair of Nike Roshes and 2) I have a Masters logo on my hat instead of Kermit The Frog sipping tea, something that I still don’t understand.
Finally, I spotted two guys. One had a DSLR camera around his neck and the other was wearing a pair of Comme des Garçons sneakers. Boom, I was in. I saw one of them ask the security guard a question, and the security guard pointed (in anger) in the opposite direction. “Welp,” I thought, “Looks like I’m following these guys.”
I began walking where the guard had pointed. There was construction everywhere which confused me, but I heard “30 Hours” from The Life Of Pablo blasting so I figured I was probably headed in the right direction. Sure enough, myself and the other two guys were, in fact, closer than we thought. To our left was a group of about 30 kids standing in line outside of a glass storefront with all of its windows completely covered in black plastic so you couldn’t see in.
We were there.
I still had yet to talk to the guys who I was following, so I let them lead the way. Looking at the line, I was surprised that I wouldn’t have to wait longer to get in. But I was wrong.
“Nope,” the security guard said (again, annoyed as all hell), “You gotta walk down those stairs.” The guys in front of me joked with him and tried to convince them to let us in early, so now I was officially in with these guys who were also trying to overspend on a bunch of stupid clothes we didn’t need.
We walked down the stairs together and saw another line – about 80 people. We were at the older side of all of them as they stood in a line that was formed by a black velvet rope. The rope extended past the 80 people and could’ve accommodated at least 300 more people.
“This isn’t so bad,” I assumed again. “I’ll walk around.”
“Sir,” I was told by another security guard, “You have to go wait outside.”
I looked at him. And then I looked at the huge amount of space between the end of the small line, and the end of the velvet rope. That line was covered by a parking structure while the outside line was not. Anyone not next to the velvet rope was getting drenched by the torrential downpour that was simultaneously occurring.
I looked over at the guy in the Comme des Garçons shoes and he said, “Fuck this.” I concurred. We began making our way back up the stairs before passing someone who had a clear bag filled with red shirts that read “PABLO PABLO PABLO PABLO” on it.
“How long it take you?” we asked. He shook his head.
“Been here since 6 a.m., just got done.”
Another guy entered the conversation – “I just waited in line outside for over an hour and we moved maybe thirty feet. The line is wrapped around the entire side of the building. I’m coming back tomorrow.”
I told Comme des Garçons sneaker guy that maybe I’d see him tomorrow before I made my way back towards Neiman Marcus. But I meant none of that because there was no way in hell I was going to show up to the mall at dusk in order to buy a t-shirt that I could buy off Etsy for $19 even though it’s a knock-off. Kanye probably prints them on shitty Gildan shirts anyway.
As I walked through the rain and got back in my car, I was pissed. Pissed I bought into the hype. Pissed I was wet. Pissed so many security guards were pissed with the complete lack of clarity surrounding the entire situation everyone was thrown into. And weirdly pissed that I didn’t get a stupid Pablo shirt.
I put on “30 Hours” and drove home. Empty handed.
Kanye West is hateable. This we know. He’s cocky, says really dumb things at really inopportune times, and complains more than your little brother who only gets hand-me-downs.
He complains about Nike, Apple, and being $50+ million in debt. But we all know that Kanye West’s debt isn’t real debt – it’s rich person debt which barely exists. He can have Kim cover him, or as we all know, as long as Jay-Z’s a billionaire, Kanye will never be poor. But seeing a bunch of people standing in a mall ready to give this idiot money infuriated me. It showed what we should’ve known in the first place, and that’s that his brand is built on hype over anything else.
I’m probably in the minority when I say this (definitely the minority of the readership who will read this), but I actually do think Kanye West is a genius. His music, his clothes (well, not the Pablo shit but every Yeezy Season), and his overall thoughts on society. The media runs with the obscenities he screams for publicity, but then again, they’re just giving him the hype he wants. Anyone who has taken the time to watch a long-form interview or lecture involving Kanye West realizes that he is actually much smarter than the casual person will give him credit for. But when you have to download that Tidal bullshit to listen to TLOP, feverishly refresh the Adidas website to get a pair of Yeezys that are probably already sold out, and wait in the rain for six hours to buy a $75 t-shirt, you really start to hate the guy just like everyone else.
Or love him. I don’t even know at this point. .
Real talk, though – if anyone has a way to get a pair of real Yeezys, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not going to pay a thousand dollars, but I’ll send you a Sunday Scaries shirt.
Image via Instagram