We’ve learned a lot about Kanye West in the past, mainly due to his notoriously outspoken, arrogant approach to the media and showbiz in general. We’re talking about a man who’s called George Bush a racist, gatecrashed several award speeches and has been called a ‘jackass’ by President Obama. The guy knows how to raise a few eyebrows, and he recently managed to continue this trend during a Radio 1 interview with Zane Lowe.
The interview in question has definitely got people talking, which shouldn’t come as any surprise given the interviewee involved. He covers several topics ranging from his music, fashion, celebrity status and racism. His arrogance seems to have reached new levels, with claims that he is the ‘number one rock star on the planet’. A bold statement indeed.
However, he is somewhat a creative genius. As an artist and producer he has experimented with his music throughout the years. Listen to the difference in his early single, ‘Touch The Sky’, compared to his more recent tunes ‘Runaway’ and ‘Black Skinhead’.
His latest record, Yeezus, is as experimental as he’s ever been. But this isn’t an album review – what’s interesting is his reasoning behind Yeezus. He mentions to Zane that it is a result of frustration. But why is Kanye frustrated? He’s one of the biggest celebrities in the world, he has just had a baby, he’s released his sixth studio album… the world is at his feet. So what’s his beef? What Kanye goes on to talk about shows an interesting insight into the world of one of the world’s biggest rappers.
“I am a product person. Not just clothing, but water bottle design, architecture, everything that you can think about… there’s nobody around here in this space that looks like me, and if they are they’re quiet as fuck”
Kanye’s fame is his biggest enemy. He is one of the most well known artists in the music industry, but that’s not enough for Kanye. He is a rapper and producer. He wants to be a rapper, producer, and fashion designer, amongst other things. His problem is that he believes he is being suppressed by his superiors, controlled to an extent, and that he isn’t being taken seriously as anything other than a musician.
“We are making product with chitlins. T-shirts, that’s the most we can make. We can have our best perspective on T-shirts, but if it’s anything else your true man showboat is hitting the wall”
This is a pretty powerful quote, and one that rings truth. He’s talking about a revenue stream that every record company sells – general merchandise. I can’t go a day without seeing a Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Rolling Stones printed T-Shirt on the streets nowadays. And Kanye is right, there’s no creativity to be had from the artist’s perspective. A good revenue stream for the label, but if you, or Kanye, wants to make money through a more creative route then the label will hesitate to throw money your way. Kanye hit the nail on the head when he said “I make music and I can do it but I shouldn’t be limited to one piece of creativity”. It’s slightly easier to empathise with him now, perhaps.
Kanye also brought race into the question when speaking about his frustration at not being given the support to achieve his extra-curricular activities, bringing Lady Gaga into the dispute in a pretty comical manner. He talks about how ‘clean water was only served to the fairer skin’, before talking about how Gaga is the creative director of Polaroid.
“I like Gaga’s songs, but what the fuck does she know about cameras?”
Another thing that we cannot take away from Kanye is his drive. He may be an arrogant tosser a lot of the time but having the drive and determination to keep on succeeding throughout an already lucrative career is admirable. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past about success it’s that in order to reach what you want to achieve, you need to set yourself a goal and put in the blood, sweat and tears to achieve it.
Zane: “Have you always felt like you can set your mind to anything and you will achieve it ultimately?”
Kanye: “I always felt like I can do anything… people are slowed down by their perception of themselves”
Kanye definitely has the drive and determination, but his goals maybe what’s letting him down – he wants to be the first person to own a trillion dollar company. Kudos for optimism, but maybe you’re a little bit too deluded there, Mr West. His delusion is underpinned by the most famous statement of the interview when he called rappers the ‘real rockstars’, before proclaiming that he’s ‘the biggest of all of them’.
“I’m the number one rock star on the planet”
All in all, Kanye is full of contradictions. He is a visionary, a futurist, and one hell of a talented music producer. But he is also a driven businessman who can’t sustain a fashion label. He claims to be the biggest rock star in the world but he’s an experimental rapper who dips in and out of different genres. He’s incredibly frustrated with the music industry, so much so that he was happy to openly tell everyone how much he hated his hit ‘Gold Digger’. Kanye is no doubt a smart guy with the best intentions, but his delivery leaves a lot to be desired. What can we take from this interview? Maybe if we applied his work ethic we’d all be a little bit more successful, but claiming to be a God will probably leave us with fewer friends than before.