Kanye West’s outburst is met with mixed reaction from fans, while West continues to preserve his humourlessness in a Twitter row with TV host Jimmy Kimmel. By Philip Mansell.
Rap Megastar Kanye West gave us a rare insight into his mind last week when BBC Radio One aired his one-hour interview with Zane Lowe. It was released in four parts, a wise move as it is tiring viewing. In the space of an hour West dives in on a variety of issues; racism and elitism in fashion, the problems the internet has caused music, modern media, and his new record Yeezus.
In what Kanye West has subsequently described on Twitter as “the first piece of honest media in years”, the artist laid nearly everything out in the open, reserving caution only for questions that focused more on his family life. By being so completely honest, all of West’s contradictions are magnified. These contradictions are what endears him to so many fans, but are also why so many people disregard him as something of a maniacal egotist. One such contradiction was his claim that his drive in life is to help people, but seeming pleased with the fact that the trainers that he designed for Nike were “ebaying for $90,000”.
The interview is perhaps more beneficial for those who want an inside look into the fashion world than it is for those who want a focus on music, as it is evident from the start of the interview that West has an axe to grind with nearly every figure in fashion. However, this frustration with the fashion world does manifest itself in his music, with West claiming that he wrote the songs ‘Black Skinhead’ and ‘I am a God’ after being refused entry to a Hedi Slimane runway show. Another fashion company West has beef with is Fendi. He claims that he introduced the idea of ‘leather jogging pants’ to the company years ago, but was turned down. He then remarked in a roundabout way that everyone wears them now.
Since the interview aired, West and American TV host Jimmy Kimmel have begun a quite public feud. Kimmel spoofed the interview, replacing the two men with children, in a light-hearted but slightly mocking skit. This led Kanye to release a scathing attack on Kimmel via Twitter, writing amongst other things “I don’t take it as a joke… You don’t have scumbags hopping over fences trying to take pictures of your daughter”. Kimmel was actually on air during the Twitter rant, and laughed off the incident, saying that West had rung him demanding a public apology. This was not forthcoming from Kimmel.
Kanye has since removed the tweets but the whole event shows that he is currently taking life very seriously. In the interview with Zane Lowe there are very few moments of humour, and it is clear that West sees the hour as a platform for him to release some pent up frustration at the state of fashion, music and society as a whole. This is what Zane Lowe told UWE’S HUB Radio with regard to the interview before it went live: “The reason why I’m not giving anything away is not because I’m trying to like drag it out or anything, it’s because I can’t possibly begin to paraphrase or say anything that man says in a way that’s going to do it justice. He has his own voice and whatever he says you’ve got to hear him say it. It was unlike any interview I’ve ever been part of.” Zane went on to say “we left on great terms, he came in and he had his manifesto, we were the vehicle for that”
If you begin the interview with a preconception of Kanye West as a person and an artistic figure, then you are unlikely to feel differently after the hour has ended. If you feel that ‘Yeezy’ is a self-obsessed egomaniac, then there are parts of this interview (such as when he claims to be the biggest rock star on the planet) that will reinforce that view. If you feel that West is an artistic genius, with the ability to improve the world, then you will be heartened by many moments in this interview. But if you view Kanye as undoubtedly one of (if not THE) biggest stars on the planet, but respect that he has countless flaws, this interview will prove you completely right.