For the time being, Kanye West seems done with “man-made constructs” like time, space, money, and, most likely to the detriment of those around him, the human language. It’s a dubious move for a musician who has built a majority of their career on the recorded spoken word.
“I think words are one of our lowest forms of communication,” West begins in a new GQ cover story. “Music, sound, food, dancing are nonverbal forms of communication. We get so wrapped up into words. We got to make things that are speechless. We have to make things that leave people speechless. We have to make things to the level where no one can say anything.”
There’s also the issue of West calling music a “nonverbal” form of communication, which seems to discount a wide swath of musical professionals, including singers, songwriters, and rappers, all of whom tend to use words. From there, West reveals he’s been replacing human sounds with beeps. “The greatest freedom is to challenge the vernacular,” West continued. “Or add something to the vernacular. I saw [Alyx designer and former DONDA member] Matt Williams in the hotel lobby at the Mercer a couple weeks ago. Right when I saw him, I started communicating in, like, beep sounds. You know the beginning of the Bobby Digital song? Like that.”
In the early 2000s, RZA played a character aptly named Bobby Digital, who would beep like a late-Nineties modem as a form of communication. Over the past few years, West has taken to replacing lyrics on his albums with screeches and screams, which, at the time, seemed like either a visceral attempt to convey meaning or a convenient way around finishing rushed songs. Now, it’s unclear whether this was West’s first shot at a post-verbal existence or not. When asked if Williams returned his beep communications, West said, “We hugged and started using memories to attempt to communicate the future.”