Kanye West wears many hats. The man is a prolific rapper, an okay fashion designer and seemingly one of the only stand-up guys to father a Kardashian grandchild. A recent interview he conducted with interior designer Axel Vervoordt for the Hollywood Reporter suggests that he will soon add another hat to the collection: that of a published philosopher.
It seems surprising for about two seconds, until you remember that this is a person who has proclaimed himself a god on multiple occasions. This god could teach us important things in his book, “Break the Simulation” — such as, according to the interview, how our obsession with photography is proof that we “dwell too much in the memories.” It’s a decent point, and he would know from his marriage to Kim Kardashian, a woman who once published a 445-page book of her own selfies.
Clearly, West is a regular Descartes.
We poke fun, but the guy does have a history of provoking thought through his lyrics and now-deleted tweets. So assuming that West’s book will expand beyond the philosophy of photography, let us speculate on what lessons it could entail.
Loving yourself is key to living a fulfilling life.
There’s a reason “The Life of Pablo” includes a track called “I Love Kanye.” (And it’s not just so that the rapper can rhyme his first name with itself way too many times.) The song addresses criticism West has faced throughout his career through lyrics like: “I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye.” But soon enough, he ends the 45-second track with a chuckle and the reassuring sentence, “I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.”
And a thousand more memes were born.
“The Matrix” can teach us as much as the Bible can.
A few years ago, West delivered a 20-minute speech at Oxford University. He asked the audience to be absolutely quiet so he could provide them the “illest quotes,” according to Billboard, and off he went.
After telling them that it is only human to compare yourself to greats like Picasso, West drew an unusual comparison between “The Matrix” and Christianity. He referred to the movie as the “Bible of the post-information age.”
“When the hundred guys come at Neo, those are opinions, that’s perception, that’s tradition,” he said. “Attacking people from every which angle possible. If you have a focus wide and master senseis like Laurence Fishburne and you have a squad behind you, you can literally put the world in slow motion.”
God — the literal one, not West — is our most talented designer.
West is “a god,” meaning that he is not the only one. The Hollywood Reporter interview was intended to be about designers on Earth, but the rapper shared that the big man up there is behind what he considers to be the most beautifully designed places in the world — “where the ocean meets the rocks in Africa or in Hawaii,” he said. “Big Sur is close to that feeling. But that’s designed by God.”
This love of nature must be why he told Vervoordt, “And I don’t wish to be number one anymore, I wish to be water.”
No one man should have too much power.
Okay, so this one is stolen almost verbatim from the song “Power,” off “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” But it almost sounds like a response to Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” a treatise on power that seems to condone dangerous behavior with quotes like, “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”
Time is our most valuable resource.
West has a whole lot of thoughts about time. The line after the aforementioned one in “Power” is literally, “The clock’s ticking, I just count the hours.” He really drove this point home in the Oxford speech, when he told the audience that time “is the only luxury. It’s the only thing you can’t get back. If you lose your luggage … you can get that back. You can’t get the time back.”
He, therefore, has strong feelings about the time periods we fixate on. It’s the reason he feels the way he does about photographs placing too much importance on history and probably why in “Monster” he raps, “I’m living in the future, so the present is my past.” In the Hollywood Reporter interview, he adds, “I do believe that all time is now. The future is here now, the past is here now.”
Has this guy seen “In Time,” that Justin Timberlake movie where time is treated as currency? West would be the one to appreciate it.