Connor Tacy had some of the markers of a Kanye West insider: the Yeezy 500 sneakers the rapper designed for Adidas; the Calabasas pants and hat named for the exclusive LA suburb Kanye calls home.
But in the remote expanses of western Wyoming, where Yeezy had chosen to unveil his eighth album, ye, on Friday, Connor lacked one crucial accoutrement.
“I had already known that Kanye was in Wyoming,” the 17-year-old told triple j Drive.
“I really wanted to go there, because I am a huge Kanye fan, so I decided drive up there.”
It was a six-and-a-half-hour trek for Connor from his home in Colorado. But he had just finished school for the year, and had some time on his hands.
He decided to try and meet his idol.
The first hurdle was finding somewhere to crash
“The [rooms] at Kanye’s hotel were about $1,600 a night — I definitely couldn’t afford that,” Connor said.
A different hotel on the same property was cheaper, and had a room available. The next step: actually getting anywhere near the action.
Kanye had been hinting for months that he was making his new album in Wyoming, the least populous of the United States and one better known for mineral extraction than rap music.
Last week, he flew a whole lot of social media influencers, media figures and celebrities, including Chris Rock and Jonah Hill and the rappers Pusha T and Nas, to a ranch in the mountainous state to hear, for the first time, the highly anticipated new work.
To say the party was exclusive was an understatement. Initially, Connor wasn’t sure whether the long drive would be worth it.
“I didn’t actually see anybody the first day I was there,” Connor said.
“The next morning, it turned out Kanye had booked up the whole hotel Thursday night, so I had to check out Thursday morning.”
While checking out, Connor bumped into Tony Williams, who has provided guest vocals on tracks for Kanye and Pusha T. He is also Kanye’s cousin.
Williams noticed Connor’s clothing.
“He saw me and said ‘are you going to the listening party’, because I looked like someone who knew Kanye.
“I said no, I am actually trying to get in to it. He said, you know what? I’ll get you on the list, I’ll get you in. And he took my name and I was in.”
Connor was the first to arrive at the party
It was held at a ranch 45 minutes outside of Jackson Hole, a ski town of about 10,000 people.
“I was pretty much the only person that was not invited by Kanye,” he said.
“Everybody else was being bussed in from their hotel.”
They were still setting up when he arrived. There were armed guards “every 10 yards” outside the event area, he said.
Eventually, Connor got the chance to meet his idol.
“I pretty much just talked about how big of a fan I was, how much of an impact he’s had on my life,” Connor said of Kanye.
“He was really appreciative and he seemed really happy.”
Connor joined the scrum around Kanye as the album was played.
“I was a few people away [from Kanye] — I think I was next to Kanye’s promotional manager.
“Then they shifted a little bit and I was right behind [the rapper] 2 Chainz.
“They played the album about two or three times. Towards the last couple of plays I was pretty much right next to Kim [Kardashian].”
Pretty soon, the high-profile celebrities were escorted away and the event ended.
“I had goosebumps; it was crazy,” Connor said.
“It was so surreal just seeing all these people [who have been] in my music playlist for all these years and being able to stand next to them.
“I was crying, too, at some points. And the album was just so good.”