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Kanye West talks TIDAL, paying dues, his perception of beauty, social issues, racism, and more in a newly-released op-ed for PAPER. In the Kanye-covered April edition of PAPER, Kanye goes incredibly in-depth for a piece on “The American Dream.” While we’ve heard Kanye’s opinions through various mediums, exchanges and talks throughout the years, rarely do we see Kanye actually operate as an author of a thorough, fully-formed piece. You can read the full op-ed over at PAPER’s website, while some select quotes from the piece can be read below. Previously, Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian covered and was featured in PAPER for a heavily-publicized “Break The Internet” issue.
Kanye’s opening statement on “The American Dream”:
I know people want to talk about the American Dream, but my dream is a world dream. It’s a world in which everyone’s main goal would be to help each other. The first thing I told my team on New Year’s Day was, “You know, people say bad news travels fast, but this year let’s make good news travel faster.” You get back what you put out, and the more positive energy you put out, the more positive energy you’ll get back. We had to do a lot of fighting in the past couple of years to get people to understand what we want to do, what we will do and what we’re capable of doing. Not just me — or my DONDA creative team, or my design team, or my music team — but an entire generation that has the information highway and the ability to access information. Information is not only power; it’s simply everything. It can be a scary thing for people to think universally, to think in terms of the world. It’s not traditional. There’s a lot of people who want to make sure things don’t become a hybrid, but the Internet has opened up every conversation, literally and metaphorically. It starts as homogenizing, but this hybrid-ing, this interbreeding of ideas, is necessary for us as a race to evolve. (Thank God for Steve Jobs.) For example, there was an embroiderer at a fashion house who was in her 90s and she refused to give anyone her technique. She said, “When I die, this technique will die also.” I think the opposite of that. I think it’s so important for me, as an artist, to give Drake as much information as I can, A$AP, Kendrick, Taylor Swift, any of these younger artists as much information as I can to make better music in the future. We should all be trying to make something that’s better. It’s funny that I worked at the Gap in high school, because in my past 15 years it seems like that’s the place I stood in my creative path — to be the gap, the bridge.
“I heard a comment — a joke — about the Tidal press conference being an Illuminati moment. If there was actually an Illuminati, it would be more like the energy companies. Not celebrities that gave their life to music and who are pinpointed as decoys for people who really run the world. I’m tired of people pinpointing musicians as the Illuminati. That’s ridiculous. We don’t run anything; we’re celebrities. We’re the face of brands. We have to compromise what we say in lyrics so we don’t lose money on a contract. Madonna is in her 50s and gave everything she had to go up on an award show and get choked by her cape. She’s judged for who she adopts. Fuck all of this sensationalism. We gave you our lives. We gave you our hearts. We gave you our opinions!”
On “fashion insiders” and paying his dues in fashion:
“I was speaking at a fashion award ceremony — I gave the head of Milk Studios, Mazdack Rassi, the first award of the night — and I talked about the concept of ‘the fashion insider.’ I believe that everyone is a fashion insider, because it’s illegal to be naked. But in all seriousness, the fashion world can say, ‘Yo, you know what I mean: the inside insiders.’ 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? 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. I paid my dues when I had to wear a kilt in Chicago, and friends would say, ‘What’s your boy got on?’ But there are warriors that have killed people in kilts in the past. Who gets to decide what’s hard and what’s not hard? When I saw this kilt, I liked it. I was into it. It looked fresh to me. I felt creative; I didn’t feel limited by some perception.”
Kanye’s closing message:
“One time I was at the dentist’s office and I was given nitrous gas and I was vibing out — I guess that’s my version of Steve Jobs and his LSD trip — when I had this first thought: What is the meaning of life? And then I thought, To give. What’s the key to happiness? Happiness. What do you want in life? When you give someone something, should they give you something in return? No. We don’t have to expect to be compensated by the person we give to. Just give. I’m a Christian so I’ll speak in Christian terms: God will give you tenfold. Then I said in my mind — I’m still under the gas and getting my teeth cleaned — But I just want to be remembered. And I immediately corrected myself. I said, It doesn’t even matter if I’m remembered. I came out of the gas and had a completely new attitude on everything. It’s fine to not get credit for everything; it’s almost better. For the amount of things that I really want to do, it can only work if I’m credited for about 20 percent of them. Because if I’m really credited for the amount of things that I’m going to do and what I want to do, it’s just too much. The reward is in the deed itself. The times that I’ve looked like a crazy person — when I was screaming at an interviewer or screaming from the stage — all I was screaming was, “Help me to help more! I’ve given all I’ve got. I’ve gone into fucking debt. It’s all I’ve got to give. But if I had a little bit more opportunity, I could give so much more.” That’s what I was screaming for. Help me to help more.”