Kanye West Gets Passionate About Making People’s Lives Better (Video)
Daytime television interviews with Kanye West are nothing if not entertaining. The Hip-Hop icon whose influence has for years merged with the worlds of fashion, politics, and the media has never been a proponent of censorship, making him one of the more unpredictably exciting subjects in interviews like the many he’s taken part in with Ellen Degeneres over the years. The two cultural mold-breakers have established a comfortable rapport with one another, and when appearing as a guest on her talk show, West is not only his signature no-holds-barred speaker, but oftentimes he has chosen the Ellen stage to premiere news about his life and career. Whether in the form of a music video (as was the case with 2013’s “Bound 2“) or something more unorthodox (as with the news that he replaced his teeth with diamonds on the show in 2010), West’s unveilings on the show are never dull, and in true Kanye form, today’s appearance struck a similarly noteworthy chord – but for reasons that deal much more with the philosophical than the amusing.
In a vibrantly colored address that plays like an inspirational soliloquy, West manages to cover his reflections on everyone from Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama and everything from helping the planet to his Twitter behavior. Despite the vast spread of topics and the sometimes disjointed delivery, West’s nearly four-minute-long one-man monologue is a pretty remarkable snapshot of the way he thinks about the world and offers up a sense of childlike wonder in his self-expression not often covered by the media. “I feel if I had more resources, that I could help more people. I have ideas that can make the human race’s existence within our 100 years better,” he says (1:28). And, while many of his comments contain tinges of the boastfulness that makes Kanye West “Kanye West,” many of them are demonstrative of his deep sense of interconnectedness with his people and fellow creators.
After mentioning the modern-day renaissance of interdisciplinary artistry which has allowed a man like Steve McQueen – someone primarily known as a photographer who went on to become an Academy Award-winning film director – to transcend and pursue multiple career paths at once, West says “the same kind of emotion and color palette and sonics and everything that I’ve put into my music, I put them into the [YEEZY] shoes, and they worked” (3:15). Soon thereafter it becomes apparent that he isn’t simply boasting of the phenomenal success he’s had in fashion, but rather positioning his accomplishments within the framework of others. “I care about people. My dad lived in homeless shelters less than five years ago. He was a psych major. My mom was the first Black female chair of the English department at Chicago State University. I was raised to do something, to make a difference,” he says (3:23).
“As Rakim said, it ain’t no joke,” West says of Black people’s being repeatedly “blocked from being able to excel.” At the 4:20 mark he quotes a bit more of the God MC before saying “that’s what I was raised on. Rakim. Phife Dawg. Hip-Hop. Expression. I don’t give a fuck how much you’ve sold or if you play on the radio. Are you connecting?,” he asks in a move to refocus the conversation on why creation is so important, particularly or the disenfranchised. “We’re always trying to pull each other down, not doing things to help each other. That’s my point,” he says before taking a moment to think about his next statement, which is powerful. After explaining that his desire to work in fashion to help change the lives of others led him to call the head of Payless to say “I want to work with you,” West begins to express what his ultimate goal is through his work in the industry. “I want to take away bullying. Michael Jackson and Russell Simmons are the reasons why I was able to go so far in music. There was a time where Michael Jackson couldn’t get his video on MTV because he was considered to be ‘urban.’ The Michael Jackson. So I literally have to be the Michael Jackson of apparel in order to break open the doors for everyone that will come after I’m gone. After I’m dead. After they call me ‘Wacko Kanye.’ Isn’t that so funny? That people point fingers at the people who have influenced us the most? They talk the most shit about the people who care the most.”