Kanye West hits the cover of April Paper Mag

By - Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

For Paper Magazine’s April “American Dream” issue, Kanye West addresses his own American dream and describes his thoughts on his career, its recent developments and changes, and the world at large.

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The article’s blatant title, “Kanye West: In His Own Words” is as straightforward as they come. Like many of West’s interviews, the article can be categorized as a rant about how the world only recognizes him for one thing: his presence in the fashion world, or lack thereof. 

“I saw this article that asked, ‘Should Kanye leave fashion to the professionals?’ That question is really ignorant, in a way, because the second I sell my first T-shirt or my first shoe, doesn’t that make me a professional?”

This statement begins Kanye’s aimless rant about status. Reflection on his past and career, as well as interrogatives about his carefully curated public persona turn into a one-way conversation surrounding his desire to connect “purpose” to the things he has “spent a lot of time on.” This brings us to his main introductory point: if you spend a lot of time on something, you deserve recognition. Essentially, he should be grandfathered into the theoretical fashion book of history because he has spent a lot of time dabbling in this culture and industry. But it’s not just time that Kanye has spent paving his way through the fashion world. He believes that he has compromised his style and risked his reputation among friends in efforts to be considered a professional fashion designer. 

“And when you sit down with Riccardo Tisci at the Louvre and he pitches the idea of you wearing a leather kilt, which could be considered by all of your gangbanging friends as some sort of a dress or skirt, at that point you are now a part of the fashion world. You have paid your dues to be an insider.”

Paid your dues? Kanye West just said that he has paid his dues to be a fashion insider by 1) having worn a kilt as a cis-gender, heterosexual male, and 2) selling a t-shirt. Where do we sign up? This statement reads to an unfortunate and select demographic as homophobic. Also, why do you have gangbanger friends? Forget the question: why are we talking about your gangbanger friends? Or, more importantly, why are you still friends with gangbangers?

In sum, Kanye West believes that he deserves acceptance in a culture that is defined and recognized for its exclusivity. Is wearing a high-fashion kilt on a fancy, fashion show runway such an imposition to an otherwise obstacle-free lifestyle that he should be absolved from the normal skepticism and criticism that we all face? Does Kanye West deserve a medal for wearing the kilt? Kanye would like to be immediately extolled as a fashion icon and this isn’t breaking news. But the often heated public argument, in which he actively engages, about whether he is a “professional” will keep him as unprofessional as streetwear designers come, relative to the high-fashion royals who run the show on a global scale.

West’s insensitivity to the opinions of those around him, including his would-be fans, has cost him little if anything at all, because, as we say, all press is good press. As he continues to assert the fact that he has earned his place in the fashion world, a main feature of his personal American dream, his stream-of-consciousness is directed toward his recent involvement with Tidal, the music streaming app that, since its launch at the end of March, has essentially tanked. Addressing the accusations that the Tidal press conference was “an Illuminati moment,” West becomes passionately defensive.

“We don’t run anything; we’re celebrities. We’re the face of brands.”

Beyoncé might disagree (who run the world?). Though he’d like to believe that his fame bares no weight on world outcomes, political issues and trivial, daily occurrences, Kanye is thinking wishfully. It has been demonstrated, time and time again, that celebrities have more responsibility to their fans than posing for a camera – celebrities are not objects. If they were, perhaps we might avoid looking to them as we do role models. They are, however, human beings, and must understand that their public face, whether they like it or not, is influential. That public face can cause detriment as well as benefit. So, ultimately, it’s rather silly to disqualify this responsibility by claiming to be nothing more than the face to a brand.

Since he believes that he is nothing more than an image for the brands that he decides to support, by monetizing, lending his fame or designing for them, Kanye also offers this underwhelming but expected explanation for his taciturn presence when it comes to key political issues.

“People have asked why I don’t speak out — on social media, for example — about events in this country. The way I see it, it’s not about a post on social media from me when there are people dying. There’s people in Chicago dying. There’s people all across the globe dying for no reason!”

Yes, Kanye, that’s true. People are dying. But is it for “no reason?” We’ll let you decide whether this rant is coherent or symptomatic of celebrity frustrations and an inflated ego balloon that has surpassed our stratosphere.

Check out the full article here. Does Kanye love hate or does he just hate love? Sound off in the comments below.

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