12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief.
Kevin Mazur

Kanye West hasn't exactly been the rosiest person as of late. So, it's probably safe to say that his highly anticipated Saturday Night Live performance was not going to be sunshine and roses. But when West unleashed what was possibly his darkest performance to date last night, I doubt anyone in the audience left without residual goose bumps.

Containing the world premiere of "Black Skinhead" and the live debut of "New Slaves," the SNL performance marked a very different sound... and perhaps a very different Kanye West?

The tracks are from Ye's upcoming album Yeezus. "New Slaves" premiered Friday via projection (onto a handful of buildings around the world). But while the Chicago-born rapper was certainly promoting his album last night, he made it very clear during a performance last week that he was not interested in doing anything more than rapping on SNL.

"It's so funny, this guy asked me, 'When you do SNL, are you going to do a skit about the paparazzi and humanize yourself?'" West said. "At what point did I become un-human and have to turn myself back? I ain't runnin' for office. I ain't kissing nobody's mother--king babies. I'll drop your baby and you'll sue me and sh-t. I'm trying to make some music that inspires people to be the best they can be."

Yowza.

So, maybe now you can understand Yeezy's probable mood during last night's performance. First up was "Black Skinhead," which he performed with a backdrop of flashing images including the words "NOT FOR SALE" and the shadow of rabid dogs. The industrial sounds (think hydraulic lifts and steam) and the dim lighting feel like a waking nightmare.

Ye's second song was the live debut of "New Slaves." (The song premiered Friday via a series of projections on buildings around the world.) On SNL, the backdrop started with images of price tags and switched to a close-up of the top part of a woman's face. West remained solemn throughout the entire number; he simply stared straight out almost hugging the mic stand.

If this is indeed the new Kanye West, we can't wait for a—very—beautiful dark twisted June.