Take a listen to this interview:
Speaking to Zane Lowe on Radio 1 this is Kanye West's one man mission for world domination. It’s a mission to be a leader and to be a god. It’s also sixty minutes of “lols gold”. In fact this isn’t so much an interview as a manifesto for the man himself. It’s all about me myself and I, and unapologetically so.
West casts himself in the role of divine power:
“When someone comes up and says ‘I am a god’ everybody says ‘who does he think he is?’ I just told you who I thought I was… A GOD.”
Self-confidence seems to fuel him, yet this is a man that despite global stardom feels frustrated and restrained. What’s the bee in his diamond studded bonnet? Mainly the fashion industry.
Being a god seems to be about ownership and objects. Kanye doesn’t describe himself as a musician but rather a producer, and being a “producer” isn’t just about music. The interview is full of the word “product”. It’s an obsession for him. He seems to want to make things, lots of things, and not just music things. Most of all he wants to make clothes because: “being naked is illegal, listening to music isn’t illegal.”
People listening to Kanye West’s music isn’t enough, he wants people outwardly wearing his brand. He also wants commercial influence: “I eventually want to be the anchor of the first trillion dollar industry.” I find his self-love slightly horrifying (if incredibly funny), but it does seem odd that he feels fashion’s doors are closing in his face: “I’ve got so much I wanna give. I’ve got ideas on colour palettes, I’ve got ideas on silhouettes and I’ve got a million people telling me why I can’t do it.” It’s about ideas and creativity but it’s also about selling. This god is an innovator for sure, but he demands his riches and his rewards.
[one of his fashion collaborations with Louis Vuitton]
Essentially Kanye feels shut off from other industries outside of music. As a creative person, and as a driven person, he wants to be a part of it of it all. Wherever creativity lives he wants to participate in it and to profit from it. This raises an interesting question for our own industry. We, after all, also make money from our creative produce. Should ad agencies be so exclusively tied to the business of making ads? Should we instead be more directly involved in making other things like music and clothing?
The biggest paradox about Kanye’s own objective is his motivation. His narcissistic brand plans are underpinned by an apparent desire for democracy. He loves that he can make a record, and even though it might be expensive to make that track, he can share it with everyone at a modest and accessible price. Not so for fashion. You can’t do this with high-end, hand-made fabrics. I can’t work out if he feels this is an example of capitalism’s deprivation of the poor or whether he’s just annoyed he can’t make money from these people, because as I’ve said making money is mentioned a lot.
Either way Kanye is no fool. Like any savvy brand builder he knows he needs to participate in a culture, or to put it in his own more lyrical words “speak with the textures of the time”. It’s about him but it’s also about clothing his old high school’s basketball team. He wants to look after people, to “help”, but all via the rhetoric and street glamour of personal brand Kanye West. It’s difficult to know where his real intentions lie, but what can’t be denied is that he’s smoking hot at succeeding and I don’t think the fashion industry will oust him for long.
[Thoughts from Planning newbie Alexa]