Yeezy is the focal point of the NY Times’ latest magazine. Written by longtime scribe Jon Caramanica, the piece focuses primarily on Kanye’s fashion aspirations, his adidas line his newfound ego-less outlook on life, his family, and much more.
Some choice quotes from the rather lengthy piece:
West’s overall ambition is to be to fashion what he is to music: a mainstream innovator, a translator of tomorrow’s ideas for today. “Before the Internet, music was really expensive. People would use a rack of CDs to show class, to show they had made it,” West said at one point. “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.” Needless to say, there are plenty of differences between the path to success in either field. These days, a good song can travel a near-frictionless journey from creation to consumption. It’s harder to get from the fringes to the center in fashion; a designer needs money, infrastructure and channels of distribution for his or her work to get seen. Plus, it’s a world where exclusivity has cachet. When West says he wants everyone to have access to high-end style, there are plenty who find the idea the very antithesis of luxury.
Kanye West was born in 1977, and raised primarily in Chicago. His father was a onetime Black Panther turned photojournalist; his mother was a college professor. He grew up with creative pursuits and social politics always on the agenda.
He draws a direct line between the sense of justice he was raised with and his quest to do away with elitism in fashion. “I’m not a celebrity, I’m an activist,” he says. “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.”
“It’s literally like . . . I know this is really harsh, but it’s like Before Yeezy and After Yeezy,” West said. “This is the new Rome!” He was referring to his thunderous arrival in the fashion world, to his oft-mocked bid not merely to design clothes but to build, in his words, “the biggest apparel company in human history.” But he could just as easily have been talking about his own life and his recent attempts at self-transformation: his dogged efforts to remake himself, to find a comfortable balance between the self-proclaimed genius and provocateur with the hair-trigger temper he’s been, and the more moderate, approachable, self-controlled designer-of-the-people he’s trying so strenuously to become — all without losing his essential Kanye-ness.
West’s newly mellowed self is also beginning to come through in his music. Following the raw scrape of industrial noise-rap that was the “Yeezus” album, there was “Only One,” a tender number sung from the perspective of his late mother, Donda (who died unexpectedly in 2007) and recorded with Paul McCartney. Then came “FourFiveSeconds,” a stripped-down folk song with Rihanna and McCartney.
“I have this table in my new house,” West said, offering a parable. “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.
“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.”
You can read the entire piece at the NY Times Style Magazine’s site. You can also watch a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot below.