Most of the topics during yesterday’s Kanye interviews with Shade 45 and 105.1’s Breakfast Club were typical of the Yeezus period. He was questioned on why fashion was so important to him, why he’s so angry, why won’t he do things on his own. And as all the interviews have been thus far, Kanye was direct, passionate and effective. But Kanye switched roles yesterday. From where it all “popped off” with Zane Lowe being a googly-eyed fan who played Yeezus in intervals throughout the interview while Kanye was fidgeting and looking away as he answered questions, to Kris Jenner peering through his soul on her television show (very creepy), there never seemed to be a complete level of comfort. Even the most intense parts of the hour-long Zane Lowe interview seemed to be sporadic outbursts where Kanye is still holding back; there’s no real release. And though there was no indication of where either interview from yesterday was gonna go, Ye’s increased level of comfort was detectable from the start, given the circumstances of being grilled for thirty minutes straight. Maybe it’s a matter of being seasoned at this point, but Kanye transitioned from spectacle to participant.
Both interviews started by the interviewers giving their take on the Yeezus tour which propelled Kanye into the usual explanation of his music just being a small fraction of what he can offer to the world, in terms of creating product. He talked about how pairing his genius with larger corporations would be crucial to his impact on the world and would give his product a chance to reach its full potential. And as he continued to make the case for his drive and desire, Charlamagne Tha God took every chance he got to say how much he didn’t like Yeezus--crying “I wish Kanye was still conscious". It never seemed to sink in. Nothing new here. Charlamagne routinely plays heckler of the cast—even if he was in full chest-swole mode yesterday. The blaring issue in both interviews is the subconscious discouragement from Sway, DJ Envy and Charlamagne.
One of the high points of Lowe and West’s exchange happened when Kanye talked about the controversy behind “I Am A God”. He pointed out the self-hate or self-racism amongst blacks in America. He said “When you got shipped over to the country that you’re in and your last name is a slave owner’s. How could you say that? How could you have that mentality?” He asked would it have been better to say, “I am a nigga. I am a gangsta. I am a pimp.” Those questions resurface when, during a segment of the Breakfast Club interview, Kanye talks about his sour dealings with Nike and how much more of an impact he would have had on fashion if he was granted the chance to design more than two sneakers. Charlamagne goes on to ask why does he need all this money and DJ Envy suggests that he take the Don C route and have his own “little thing on the side”. On a similar topic during the Shade 45 interview, (which ignited Kanye’s explosion) Sway too asked, “Why do you need these people?” It all feels like it comes from an insecure place being projected onto Kanye during the interview. Kanye’s blowing up at Sway and containing himself with Charlamagne didn’t feel like attempts at upstaging anyone. They came off as an earnest “Why don’t you get it?!” The glass ceiling presented to an industry being marginalized as just “urban culture” is what Kanye is trying to shed light on, while the radio hosts simultaneously showed that the ceiling has already taken hold of their psyches. Sway took the time to mention a clothing venture he spent hundreds of thousands on, all in a subconscious way of discouraging Kanye, while dressing it up as well-meaning advice.
I question, why not? Why shouldn’t he go as hard as he can to get backing from corporations with abundant resources, to later propel himself to own one of those corporations? Witnessing a black person ask another that question after he’s articulated himself crystal-clear on the subject is pretty deflating. If Kanye were to take their advice and be satisfied with creating a brand similar to what hip-hop has seen already, what real contribution to advancing the culture would he accomplish? At its height, Phat Farm was sold for $140 million in 2004. Rocawear was sold in 2007 for $204 million. Wu-Wear and Sean John are sold at places like J.C. Penney. Those are pennies to the corporations that own them (what Kanye is trying to get at continuously). This all felt like Kanye’s failed visit to the old neighborhood where he thinks he can bond with everyone during conversation but it ends up never working out. Here’s the guy at the most relaxed we’ve seen him since he’s started this interview saga, where he’s more comfortable amongst a group of people he feels may have a better understanding of the point he’s trying to get across—where he doesn’t seem like he’s explaining himself. He’s discussing his desire to wrestle with the most powerful figures in the fashion and production design industry—to become a billionaire—and the bulk of feedback he receives from interviewers that are in the same field as he, is to settle for less. What Charlamagne wrote off as “rich nigga problems” seem more, if anything, like a crazed passion that unfortunately doesn’t seem worthwhile to his contemporaries. For all his craziness and in-your-face moments, he’s proven his caliber in the realm of creativity, why steer him away from taking it to levels never seen?