Kanye West is no stranger to brash rhetoric, his words echoing in vast stadiums before being transmitted across the rest of the world, inciting both hate and admiration in equal amounts. However, behind this facade is a man who sports an unrestrained intellect as evidenced by his wide-ranging forays into the varied disciplines of fashion, art, design and film, and it is these facets of Kanye that are on display in this candid and intimate 30-minute video interview conducted by Surface Magazine for its Art Issue.
Touching on a host of issues and causes dear to him, Kanye speaks to Surface editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey about children’s education, creating opportunities for young creatives, the importance of design, and the benefits of emoji-only communication. Of course, the rapper wouldn’t be himself without a bit of drama, as is found halfway through the interview when he bristles after being asked whether he considers himself an artist.
Read some select excerpts below along with a teaser snippet and watch the full video interview here.
Wordless communication would be your preferred method?
Yeah, sign language, eye contact. Or thank God for emojis. So often one emoji goes a long way and lets me get on with my whole day.
I don’t want to be a jerk, but there are certain people who are geniuses. Their emotional and social IQ is super high and they can get stuff done. Often, people who get really amazing stuff done have to cut off their emotional IQ. I can’t stand this whole “How was your day?” thing that agents always say. I’m like, “You don’t care about my day. Why’d you ask me about my day? Did we get done what we were supposed to get done?” But I do want to know how my daughter’s day was. I do want to get an explanation of what she learned in school. I sincerely care about that.
I think business has to be stupider. I want to do really straightforward, stupid business—just talk to me like a 4-year-old. And I refuse to negotiate. I do not negotiate. I can collaborate. But I’m an artist, so as soon as you negotiate, you’re being compromised.
Do you see yourself as a bridge, as someone who’s helping bring the high and the low together on a mass level?
I think so. I will be a part of this because I don’t want to miss out. I don’t wanna be dead when the world starts getting good.
It seems like you have this crazy optimism about the world. Where does this come from?
Knowing that art can beat anything. Knowing that the artist shall rise. As sure as people have eyes, artists shall rise. Masters of visuals. Masters of communication. The art of conversation. Anything could be art in 10,000 hours.