Kanye West gives us a peak into his brilliant musical mind.
Call him what you want, but Kanye West has a wise take on things. His introspective insight into the world, life, money and celebrity reminds us he’s a human being with real feelings, despite that sincerity often taking a backseat to his widely-publicized antics and cockiness.
He wrote at-length in Paper magazine about his take on the meaning of life, what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be famous, the act of giving and the silly rumors surrounding TIDAL’s Illuminati induction.
Here are eight highlights from his essay:
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.
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.
Bravery and courage is walking into pain and knowing that something better is on the other side. I heard this quote from Steve Jobs: someone came up to him when he was working on something and said, “Hey, just do it. It will be easy.” And he said, “Wait a second. Anything halfway good is at least medium hard.” There’s no easy way out. Just choose what you want to focus on. Right now, over 70 percent of my focus is on apparel. I haven’t even given my College Dropout of clothing yet. We’re still on mixtapes.
I loved music. I loved it more than I love it now. But I think that can happen with anything. You can live in New York for 10 years and say, “I now want to move to San Francisco.” It’s just harder for me to do music now, period. It’s easier for people who focus on it all day and who are younger in their concept of what they want to do with it. I am not what I would consider truly a musician. I am an inventor. I am an innovator.
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!
I also love people being inspired to follow their dreams, because I think people are oppressed by smoke and mirrors, by perception. There isn’t an example of a living celebrity that has more words formed against him, but just a little self-belief can go a long way. I think the scariest thing about me is the fact that I just believe. I believe awesome is possible and I believe that beauty is important. When I say “beauty,” what’s your current definition of beauty? When I think beauty, I think of an untouched forest, only created by God’s hand. I think of a gray sky that separates the architecture from the background and creates these amazing photographs because you don’t have to block the sun above you when you’re taking the photograph. I think beauty is important and it’s undermined by our current corporate culture. When you think about the corporate office, you don’t see the importance of beauty. I think all colors are beautiful and in a corporate world only one color is. But another thing is that I believe money is important. I think that artists have been brainwashed to look at money as a bad thing, and it’s not. I think they’re equally important in our current civilization.
Racism is something that’s taught, but for the new post-Internet, post-iPad kids that have been taught to swipe before they read, it’s just not going to affect them as much. They realize that we are one race. We’re different colors — my cousins and I are different shapes and we’re all from one family. We’re all from one family called the human race. It’s simple as that. This race is up against some interesting things — poverty, war, global warming, classism — and we have to come together to beat this. It’ll only be as a collective that we can beat this, and we can. We can create a better world for ourselves.
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.
Read the full story from Kanye at Paper.