Kanye West: ‘Meeting Paul McCartney Was Like Meeting Ralph Lauren’
UPDATE: Following a few more questions from Lowe about West’s post-Grammy comments regarding Beck defeating Beyoncé for Album of the Year, Kanye publicly apologized to Beck via Twitter. “I would like to publicly apologize to Beck, I’m sorry Beck,” wrote West. His next tweets included an addidtional apology to Bruno Mars, because he “used to hate on him but I really respect what he does as an artist.” West even invited the singer to join him on a song produced by himself, Diddy and “No Church in the Wild” producer 88 Keys.
In a wide-ranging, emotional interview with BBC’s Zane Lowe, Kanye West showed a less frustrated and upset side of himself than his last interview with the DJ 18 months ago.
In 2013, West had been so heated about his frustrations with the fashion industry that dramatic quotes and mannerisms became the subject of spoofing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Lowe’s new interview begins where they left off, with West explaining where he had been emotionally at the time. Filmed on Tuesday, the day before he debuted the energetic “All Day” live at the Brit Awards, West was more subdued than his last meeting with Lowe. “I was just myself and I expressed myself and I was gonna go for it,” said the rapper.
Now finding a larger audience with fashion and design, West spoke more philosophically with Lowe. “I believe the world can only be saved through design,” he claimed, speaking about the topic in a more worldly sense and outside of just fashion. “Art is to be free. Design is to fix.”
Classism in the fashion industry is still of concern to West, even as more doors are opening for him. He told Lowe that nothing should be exclusive and reiterated his idea that “classism is the new racism,” taking to task the “Black Lives Matter” slogan attached to recent injustices against young black men. “I know I tweeted ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but ‘All Lives Matter,'” said West. While promoting “All Lives Matter,” West said he related to working-class people more than business executives. “My doorman is more important to me than any head of any company,” said West. “He keeps us safe. My driver keeps us safe and goes to work every day.”
West cited many people in fields outside of music as his most recent inspirations. While discussing Louise Wilson, a British professor of fashion design who passed away last year, the rapper began openly weeping. “That’s never happened to me in an interview before,” he said as soon as he composed himself. Engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk also gets high praise from West, who details their conversations as discussions of “the futch,” short for future.
West did provide some insight on his headspace for his new music, especially given the many recent releases and collaborations connected to projects from his upcoming album and otherwise. “It’s fun to work hard. We’re being inventive,” notes West on what to expect form the new music. “The College Dropout came out of a fight to rap. This new album is coming out of a fight to design.” He later compares the new material to the hymnal “Amazing Grace,” stating its focus on “the beauty of the struggle.”
Lowe presses West to discuss working with “Only One” and “FourFiveSeconds” collaborator Paul McCartney specifically, and West spoke with reverence about the former Beatle. “Meeting Paul McCartney was like meeting Ralph Lauren,” he states. “[They are] the greatest of their fields. Period. Of all time.”
Working with McCartney was a great learning experience for West, musically. “The types of chord changes that Paul does…I don’t even understand them,” he said. “That’s because he invented them,” added Lowe. West continued “To be able to be involved with writing a song like that is way next [level].” He notes that on “FourFiveSeconds” the cadence is trap above the “Seventies FM radio” sound that Lowe pointed out.
West also confirmed that a video with Drake and Big Sean for Sean’s single “Blessings” is forthcoming, calling both “two of the hottest rappers in the game.” West focuses on Drake specifically as the hottest rapper. “I’m the visual extension of what he’s doing sonically,” he claims, noting that his performances have had a similar effect on audiences as the recent surprise mixtape from Drake. He adds: “I don’t have any advice for that young man. What I can say is run. Fly. Go as fast as you can. Don’t stop.”
Lowe’s interview with West is one of his last for BBC Radio, as the DJ will leave his post of a dozen years to join Apple in March.