Kanye West Interview: His Faith, Public Perception, ‘Yeezus Tour’ and How Fashion Design Can Save the World
By Jeremy D. Larson
Kanye West Interview: Part 1
“A lot of people have an opinion, but I’ve been building a perspective.”
This is just one of the many quotes from Kanye West‘s revealing, insightful and personal interview Monday night, just hours before Kanye proposed to his longtime girlfriend Kim Kardashian. Kanye sat down with San Francisco radio station 99.7 NOW (a Radio.com station) to talk about the importance of family and God, his perception in the media, how fashion design can save the world, and how he’s just like a video game character with one important difference: You can’t control him.
As a divisive figure in pop culture, Kanye has always been the subject of ridicule, from low tabloids to high culture publications. He’s watched his public persona become narrower and narrower, from the guy who interrupts people on TV to the guy who abuses the paparazzi. For Kanye, it’s been hard to draw the focus back to what he cares about above all: his art.
“What I think I’ve done up to now by having this ‘in-question perception’ … I’ve allowed myself a clean slate to go anywhere. If I hadn’t made “New Slaves,” then I couldn’t have had that portrayal of Jesus [on stage]. And then I would be on a slippery slope of ‘control of perception,’ as opposed to just being extremely creative and expressing exactly what I wanted to do, whether people took it as a mistake or not.”
As always, he effusively continued.
“A lot of times people look at celebrities like a video game character or an avatar. And I’m gonna tell you what up with me: My joystick is all the way out the plug. You ain’t controlling this avatar in any way. There’s only one person that walks this earth, or one level of greatness that can control me, and that’s God.”
Kanye West Interview: Part 2
“This the Jesus Generation. Every generation is.”
For all his public scrutiny, including the recent and lengthy disagreement he had with Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye remains steadfast in the origins of his behavior.
“I don’t do anything for the sake of controversy. I don’t do anything for the sake of publicity.”
When asked about his philanthropy, Kanye says that he’s still working out how to say his next thought, but says this is close enough for now:
“My life is philanthropy. When I wake up it’s philanthropy. Everything I’m doing is ‘How can I help others?’ So if you think about the things that I’ve got the most backlash for I was actually trying to help others –maybe in the wrong way, maybe in the wrong time — but really trying to fight for … what I thought was the truth. When people say ‘Kanye’s crazy’ sometimes I’m like, ‘I feel like I’m the only one not crazy, I’m the only one not limited, I’m the only one not afraid. You get to be afraid a little bit, but bravery is not not having fear, it’s overcoming fear.”
He adds, “I feel like a little bit, like, I’m the Braveheart of creativity.”
Much of his creativity is fueled by his faith, which has always played an important part in his career, notably from one of his most famous and enduring songs, “Jesus Walks” from his 2004 debut College Dropout. While some have questioned Kanye’s use of “White Jesus” in his Yeezus live show, which kicked off October 19 in Seattle, Kanye says he’s a true believer, and He’s not just there to ruffle feathers.
Kanye says he doesn’t think there’s a problem with him mixing his art with his faith, explaining: “I create like I’m like three years old, have you ever talked to a three-year-old? See a three-year-old painting? A three-year-old learned to love Jesus. He also saw this movie with monsters in it, he might draw it in the same painting. That’s the way I create.”
He adds, “I don’t take some responsibility to what some backlash…I only take responsibility to The Lord. I’m trying to make my bed up in the Kingdom as soft as possible.”
Kanye West Interview: Part 3
“I went to the GAP and I said ‘Lemme try to do something.’”
As the founder of the all-encompassing creative agency DONDA, Kanye puts fashion design at the forefront. His music videos have always had a haute aesthetic, and for his live performance, he’s been wearing a jewel-encrusted Margiela mask. He believes that tenets of fashion design could be the very threads that bring the world together.
“What if everybody really came together — I’m talking about the brands and corporations just in America alone, let alone the entire globe — I think the world can be saved through design. Because design is about form, function, solution, and problem solving — It’s not about politics. Politics is what slows everything down.”
He adds, “That’s what so amazing about what Steve Jobs did, he showed you what a direct vision could mean.”
Kanye says he wants to set up “something” in San Francisco because he likes the way people think, and the way the communities work together. He even went to, of all places, The Gap to see if they wanted to collaborate.
“I went to the Gap and I said ‘Lemme try to do something’ and I couldn’t get past the politics. And I’m like ‘I’m telling you, I got it. I know it. I can do it. Gimme a shot.’ Our first night [on the Yeezus Tour] we sold $83,000 in tour merch. Imagine if you take these thoughts and connect it with a corporation like the Gap.”
As for what fans can expect from him on tour, Kanye says they should look to the broad strokes he used on his most recent album.
“In the same way how Yeezus can take between classical, soul, new wave, punk, hip-hop. It’s the visual representation of that. It can go broadway, opera, Tyler Perry, you know, rock.”
Of course, the interview did take place right before Kanye proposed to Kim inside AT&T Park in San Francisco, he provided no hints of his proposal plans. He did talk about his “dream girl” who he says is someone he truly relies on.
“Just the stability in this astronaut ride of life, particularly of fame, to have someone who understands. Who’s that sweet. Who doesn’t want me for my money,” he said, before joking. “She looks pretty good too.”
Yeezy said becoming a father to little North West has made him more focused on not only music, but helping others.
“It’s one thing for me to say I want to do things to help the world…It’s another thing to really have a family, to really understand what it means to be a dad,” he said. “It gives you a real perspective of the American dream the world dream. The meaning of life to me is life itself, family.”
So what’s Kanye going to do once the Yeezus tour is done? Move to San Francisco and start a design company? Meet up with the folks at Apple? He talks about homes in Chicago, Paris, but it’s something much simpler than that:
“Like Drake said, ‘Just hold on, I’m going home’.”