ABOVE: Kanye West celebrates with friends and supporters Thursday evening during the first listen of his eighth album, titled “Ye,” during a private party at the Diamond Cross Ranch in Buffalo Valley. West has been traveling to Jackson Hole over the past year to work on the album. PHOTO BY RYAN DORGAN

Kanye West shot the cover art for his new release on an iPhone as he and Kim Kardashian West drove to the biggest hip-hop party Buffalo Valley has ever seen.

The photo shows the Tetons, close to dusk, with the phrase “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome” scrawled over it in lime green.

The album, “Ye,” dropped at midnight June 1 on East Coast time and was simultaneously played over very large and expensive speakers at Diamond Cross Ranch. The ranch, dubbed “West Ranch” by various national media people flown in to attend the listening party, drew a who’s who of “hip-hop royalty,” as Chris Rock said in his introduction to the listening portion of the affair.

Big Hole BBQ catered the event, Roadhouse Beer was served from an open bar and the view of the sun setting over the Tetons was live-streamed across the world via the WAV app as fans awaited Yeezy’s new creation.

West has taken a liking to this area in recent months, so it’s hardly a surprise he decided to throw his album release party in the same venue that inspired him. He spent months crafting beats at Amangani and other locales in the Tetons.

All winter, rumors spread of his and his wife’s location, and which A-list rapper he had flown in to collaborate with him. The list included Chance The Rapper, Pusha-T, Kid Cudi, Nas, Travis Scott and other big names.

Pusha-T’s “Daytona,” released last Friday, was also recorded, with West producing it in the Jackson area.

The party was announced just the day before, with an image from Instagram making the rounds online. All it said: “Kanye West album listening party Thursday May 31 Jackson Hole Wyoming itinerary confirmed upon RSVP.”

From there, rumors started to fly: It was at Amangani, or Spring Creek, or in Moran. It was a hundred people, or 800. You could get in if you had a Wyoming ID, or it was a private party.

What we do know is that you had to be on a list to get in and pass multiple security checkpoints. Sorry, attempted party crashers. Media from New York City and Los Angeles were flown in via private jet, all ready to write think-pieces on the state of Kanye today, and what his new art means in the wake of his Trump comments. At 10 p.m, after three hours of making live-streaming fans stare at a small fire (good move, Ye), the man of the hour gathered his guests around a bonfire, and after an introduction by Rock, the quick seven-song album began blasting.

Rock’s comments were circulating everywhere Friday, highlighting the contrast, or connection between wealth and African American-made political music and musicians, all of which converged on a northwestern Wyoming ranch for one night.

“Hope you enjoy the bonfire tonight because tomorrow night it’ll be a cross burning,” he said.

Rocky Vertone, known as DJ Vert-One, ended up at the party DJing and helping set up some of the sound gear West rented. The Jackson DJ described it as the kind of night that will never happen again.

“It was pretty wild, just the contrast of those dudes and hip-hop in this ranch scene it was so funny,” Vertone said.

He said it changed, or at least made him rethink, his opinion of West.

“People can talk s--t about Kanye West, like, ‘he says this and he says that,’ I don’t know, last night he was super chill,” Vertone said. “He’s a super nice dude and he has his moments. He’s an artist like everyone else.”

Ye album cover

The album cover for Kanye West’s new album, “Ye,” was shot on an iPhone, and is a familiar site to Jacksonites.

Dep. Clayton Platt from Teton County Sheriff’s Office was one of two deputies assigned to the party. He estimated around 300 people attended, and besides one DUI arrest, it was a mellow night. However, he said he didn’t really fit in with the rest of the party-goers, with his sheriff’s badge and cowboy hat.

“It’s the strangest one I’ve had here,” Platt said of the job assignment.

The after-party was far more public. Wade Dudley was at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar last night around midnight when the crowd turned from the typical cowboy crowd to something else entirely.

“At some point a bunch of very fashionable people came in one after another,” Dudley said. “Ty Dolla Sign, Kid Cudi walked in, and I knew that Kanye West was about to come in. Frank Ocean also walked in. It turned from the Cowboy Bar scene to this Hollywood-type scene.”

Check back with JHNewsAndGuide.com on Saturday for a gallery of photographs from the album listening party.

— Emily Mieure contributed to this article.

Contact Isa Jones at 732-7062, entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGscene.

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(17) comments

Chad guenter

Just consider this, added diversity to the list of Elite degenerates that flock to this area. I wonder if the billionaires, bankers and politicians welcome Mr. West to their inner circles?

Jim Olson

We probably all came from a race of darker skinned people until we migrated north into the land of cold with less sunshine where we became whiter, more agro, and grouchier because of the darkness and cold.........

Jim Olson

It's regrettable that our sheltered white people are so afraid of black rappers. Yes, they are generally bigger and physically superior....let's even say that they are probably genetically superior. Bradley, your ancestors probably evolved from the black race which was thriving in the cradle of civilization. Please don't be so polarizing!

Jim Olson

So you folks are "outraged" about comments that imply racism is here in the "hole"? Well let me tell you or remind you if you have been around here long enough what happened to a black friend of mine quite a while ago.
Wendell Brown, as he was riding a bicycle got followed by....yes, redneck racists in a pickup truck and then "lassoed" like in a rodeo. And then guess what? Later on as he was riding a bike he got lassoed again!!!!
So keep your "outrage" to yourself. There are elements of racism EVERYWHERE in this country. Here too. We are an almost all white populace here. And I stand by my earlier statement that the rapper never said Jackson Hole was racist, even though it is!

Jeff Larson

As long as they leave.

Lisa Mills

Please don't let my beloved Jackson be ruined by Hollywood.

Kat Crawford

Oh yeah. People of color in the U.S. cannot be racist. Racism = racial prejudice + racial institutional power. They can be prejudiced but lack racial institutional power. Google it. Chris’ comments were prejudiced not racist. (See previous comment for why he wasn’t far off though.)

Jeffrey Walker

You are entitled to define it however you like. Rock's comments were offensive, period. Calling for cross burnings? Seriously??? That's just hysteria, not reality. Sorry you didn't have a good time here; perhaps you have found Nirvana elsewhere.

Chad guenter

Kat Crawford your definition of "racism" is 100% FABRICATION. It is a lie that is spreading like a disease until it is somehow accepted as truth. SJW's are trying to redefine words to fit their political agendas.
Please, educate yourself!
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism

Kat Crawford

I used to live in Jackson. I loved it, but had to leave. I’m black. And Chris is right. One moment it’s a bonfire then the next it’s a cross burning. Jackson is like the rest of America. Like a box of chocolates - a bonfire or a cross burning. You never know what you gonna get. Said by someone who’s lived in and loved the region. Unless you’re black you can’t know the experience. Shut it down.

Henry Fowler

Really glad there was a fun party somewhere but why is this front page news? Great for your social section or fan magazine supplement if you feel like you need one. Guess what, Hollywood is already here, been here a long time, just not heretofore into making a giant reverberating splash. Very disappointing that the "newspaper" finds this all so fascinating and wants to feature it so prominently. Please grow up.

Bob Kochman

Checked in at the Jackson airport FBO before flying out Saturday morning. Staff there said these partiers trashed the place Friday while waiting to board their private jets, broke the popcorn machine, not one thank you, no tips, and as one staff member put it, "the worst experience of my life."

Jim Olson

Jeffrey, when I read the paragraph with the quote in question, I didn't interpret it to mean that he meant J-Holers are like the Klan, I interpreted it to apply to the U.S.A. in general. You may be right, or maybe not, or maybe you are oversensitive and perhaps some subliminal guilt might be surfacing in your subconscious mind?

Jeffrey Walker

Thanks for the psychoanalysis Jim. Don't know if you are actually a practitioner or just stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. In either case, my interpretation may be different than yours which is fine. However, you are correct that I am sensitive to liberal media bias. Let me ask you a simple question. What was the purpose of the newspaper in publish this single, isolated comment from Rock without any context? Talk about subliminal......

Jeffrey Walker

Jim, thanks for the psychoanalysis. Are you a practitioner or did you just stay at a Holiday Inn last night? :-). Anyways, you are right about one thing, namely subliminal manipulation in the media. What was the purpose for the JH Daily in putting in this single quote from Rock? Nothing else, no context, just the statement about cross burning. Talk about subliminal...........

Bob Kochman

U.S. in general, like Hollywood, or New York City? No, he meant what he said, he and his buddies think people in Wyoming are a bunch of redneck cowboys who lynch as nightly entertainment. Shame on that local rag for highlighting that one remark and as for Chris Rick and his friends, please don't come back. Read my comment on what they did at the airport FBO.

Jeffrey Walker

I am outraged, and yeah that means royally outraged, that the JHN&G would publish a blatantly racist statement from the so-called comedian, Chris Rock, accusing the residents of Wyoming as being members of the Klan. This is typical of media; to allow racist statements from the left to be published as "comedy" or "satire" when, in fact, they are a form of hate speech. Nice job to our local paper by allowing Hollywood to come into our town and label its citizens without questioning or criticism. This is bull and everyone who lives locally should be offended. I know I am. You can't excuse racism in the name of being funny; just call it for what it is.

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