The last thing students in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design had heard about Kanye West was that his tour was delayed because a truck carrying important technical instruments had been in an accident, but that his date at the TD Garden in Boston was still scheduled to take place. But when West made an impromptu stop at one of their lecture halls on Sunday, he gave them much more to think about. The talk was a part of his design company DONDA’s new lecture series titled “DONDA Design Lecture.” In particular Kanye fashion no humility was involved in his speech.
“I really do believe that the world can be saved through design,” West said in front of the class at a lecture hall on campus. Also on hand was Virgil Abloh, who is the creative director of DONDA, and of course Kim Kardashian, who recently appeard topless in the “Bound 2” music video, was there to cheer him on.
West’s speech focused on the intersection of high design with pop culture, an obvious point of expertise for the rapper.
“Everything needs to actually be ‘architected.’ This is the reason why even some of the first DONDA employees were architects that started designing T-shirts instead of buildings.”
West has long been linked to fashion, but his creative side has been popping up all over the place lately. First there was the now infamous Zane Lowe interview and its subsequent progression into the high profile feud between West and Jimmy Kimmel. In the interview with Kimmel, West called himself a “creative genius” and went into sustained monologues about everything from his career to Steve Jobs, oh and of course Jesus.
Although still a high profile rapper, West seems to be exploring loftier ambitions these days. His latest album Yeezus is his most challenging work to date but seems destined to become his least successful. In interviews he has begun to speak of his work not just as music but as an entire project towards a better world.
West told his Harvard students, “I believe that utopia is actually possible… I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft and not be lazy about creation.” West also went on concise rant about the ineffectiveness of politics which may or may not be spurned on by President Obama’s recently calling West a “jerk.”
Interestingly for a man who considers himself an artist in the highest sense of the term, he includes the work of his wife, a reality star, in his view of the truly talented in US society. In the Kimmel interview he claimed it was an outrageous oversight to think that Kim was not a talented star whose name should have its own Hollywood star, he also alluded to prejudices other people have against his wife as the reason she was not selected. It would be interesting for some to ask him if he sees his wife’s reality work on the same level as his own projects.
Still, West appears undeniably sincere when talking about his passions. He passed out close to 300 free tickets to the students he spoke to and, perhaps humbly, asked them that if they come to see his show tonight to be lenient when seeing his designs. “I’m a bit self conscious showing it to architects. The stage does have flaws in it. It’s an expression of emotion so give me a pass on that.” In more ways than one we are seeing a new side of Kanye West.
By Nick Manai