Kanye West: “I’m Not A Celebrity, I’m An Activist”
Kanye West tells The New York Times he had to barge his way into the fashion world, because otherwise, the community would ignore him. “I one hundred percent had to scream,” he tells the outlet. “I tried it every other way.” West is being literal. Recalling his tirades from atop the 60-foot mountain on stage during his Yeezus concerts, West says, “I would scream — ‘Look at this mountain I just made! You don’t think I can make a T-shirt? Look at everyone in the audience — we’re selling $300,000 worth of T-shirts every night!’”
The polarizing performer’s goal with his latest fashion ventures is to break down the barriers between poor and rich consumers. “Before the Internet, music was really expensive. People would use a rack of CDs to show class, to show they had made it,” explains West. “Right now, people use clothes to telegraph that. I want to destroy that. The very thing that supposedly made me special — the jacket that no one could get, the direct communications with the designers — I want to give that to the world.”
His foray into fashion has been a long time in coming. “I dreamed, since I was a little kid, of having my own store where I could curate every shoe, sweatshirt and color,” says West. “I have sketches of it. I cried over the idea of having my own store.”
To say he feels like he’s making a difference would be an understatement. During a meeting with his team around the time of his much-discussed New York Fashion Week presentation for Adidas, West declared, “It’s literally like . . . I know this is really harsh, but it’s like Before Yeezy and After Yeezy. This is the new Rome!”
He sees what he’s doing to counter elitism as a social movement. “I’m not a celebrity, I’m an activist,” explains West. “The fact that when I see truth it’s really hard for me to sit back and just allow it to happen in front of me on my clock makes me, a lot of times, a bad celebrity.” He’s also trying to get past some of the pettiness behind some fights with others, including a public spat with the designer Hedi Slimane. “I’m not angry anymore,” says West, “but I had to get my anger out.”
His family life with Kim Kardashian and daughter North West has helped. “I feel like now I have an amazing wife, a supersmart child and the opportunity to create in two major fields,” says the rapper. “Before I had those outlets, my ego was all I had.”
He offers an interesting parable to illustrate how his ego used to be an obstacle: “I have this table in my new house. They put this table in without asking. It was some weird nouveau riche marble table, and I hated it. But it was literally so heavy that it took a crane to move it. We would try to set up different things around it, but it never really worked.” West adds, “I realized that table was my ego. No matter what you put around it, under it, no matter who photographed it, the douchebaggery would always come through.” Is West’s douchebaggery a thing of the past? Let us know what you think of his new interview.