Friday, November 22, 2013

"Hear 'Ye, Hear 'Ye"

GQ's Will Welch in the December 2013 print issue.

"Kanye West took abuse this year for, well, pretty much everything: calling himself a god, a genius, and "the nucleus" of culture; unabashedly declaring that he's the next Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and/or Steve Jobs; and proclaiming that he'll one day be the leader of a multibillion-dollar company.

Somewhere in there he also put out a new album, Yeezus, a gloriously vicious sonic collage and unbridled expression of pure KanYeezian id. Stitched together like a digital Frankenstein, it also plays like an album by a guy who now has things to do other than just make albums. In song after song and interview after interviews, 'Ye made it clear that boundary-shattering music is second nature to him at this point -- a sort of sideline art project -- and he now wants to invest his relentless creative energy in making product, from loafers to movie screens to, ya know, skyscrapers. What he wants, in other words, is one of the few things that a young, rich, black celebrity can't have: the means of production. Andy Warhol changed the way we think about art and commerce when he painted soup cans; Kanye West wants to actually make soup.

For this aspiration -- for the sheer unlikeliness that he'll ever achieve it and, yes, the references to leather jogging pants -- people laughed at him and called him insane. But even if Kanye West Inc. never sells a single peacoat or sports car, in 2033 we still look back at Kanye circa 2013 differently. Because already, countless kids to whom he really is the nucleus are rewriting their dreams. What was once "I want to grow up to be a rapper who's got cars, clothes, and Jordans" is now "I want to grow up to design and produce my own cars, clothes, and Jordans." In that light, Yeezus-era Yeezy sounds revolutionary -- maybe even kinda sane."

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