Radio.com Inside Out: Decoding Kanye West’s Rants
By Courtney E. Smith
In 2013 Kanye West was man, myth, legend — and even more turnt up than usual for a six-month stretch, judging by the series of interviews he did with radio stations to promote his Yeezus Tour.
On the surface, West seemed to create a series of out-of-control press appearances and on-stage pontifications, deemed to be rants coming from a notoriously uncensored and unruly artist following the release of the most difficult and unexpected album of his career, Yeezus.
In this edition of Radio.com Inside Out (above), we create what is essentially a supercut of Kanye’s visits to Radio.com stations, including Los Angeles’ 97.1 AMP Radio, New York’s 93.2 NOW and San Francisco’s 99.7 NOW.
This radio tour was unprecedented, both because West did almost no promo (other than a New York Times interview) for the release of Yeezus and because the idea of a radio tour is not exactly a progressive tool in the music marketing handbook these days. It is certainly not used as the platform for the difficult and socially challenging concepts West brings up. As he traveled to across the country on his Yeezus Tour, West hit up multiple radio stations when he was in town, giving up to three epic interviews a day, which were quickly turned into fodder for the blog-mill. As he moved through this press cycle, news was breaking in real time about the dissolution of his relationship with Nike and his new alliance with Adidas.
Upon close examination of several of the interviews, it became clear that if you edited the narrative West presented, omitting the screaming and the nonsequiturs, that all the man really wants is a chance to prove himself in the world of fashion design. Ready-to-wear or couture, for whatever fashion house will have him actually design. The problem is, few companies are willing backers. The reasons are two-fold. First, he’s got that reputation as an unhinged and uncontrollable creative, which is not appealing when there are millions on the line. Second, his attempts at launching his own fashion lines have been coldly reviewed, which doesn’t set him up for success — even though he has interned at Fendi and clearly put a lot of work into learning the fashion game.
When West gets down to a clear-headed explanation about what these snubs mean for Black America and the importance of economic empowerment, well, it’s hard to deny that he’s really got a point. And, as it turns out, all this ranting was the inspiration for Yeezus, starting with the first, blaring and atonal note.