In an interview published on Friday by the Hollywood Reporter, the 40-year-old mentioned that he had been working on something called “Break the Simulation,” his first book of philosophy. “I do believe that all time is now,” West said in the interview. “The future is here now, the past is here now.” Then, to elaborate, he reactivated his dormant Twitter account.
While any age is a good age to contemplate the mysteries of time and space, the koans that West has been tweeting this week often project the gravitas of a stoned 21-year-old holding court at a high school party. Still, there are some cool ideas sprinkled in with bad ones — which, coincidentally, is the very dynamic that makes West’s more recent music feel so true to our mostly stupid, occasionally profound everyday lives.
He’s abandoned the first person in a lot of these thoughts. “Once you start moving in love the universe will assist you,” he tweeted on Wednesday. Our lives are “the greatest movie we’ll ever see,” he typed a few moments later. If you aren’t feeling enlightened yet, scroll back to Sunday when West was talking about a shift in our collective consciousness: “often people working with the existing consciousness are jealous of those who are more in touch and they become hard-core capitalist in hopes of creating the illusion that the value of money is worth more than the value of time and friends.”
Now this was something — especially for me, considering that “the inevitability of a post-money Kanye” has been a pet theory that I’ve tortured my friends with ever since the summer of 2013 when West rapped, “Soon as they like you, make ’em unlike you.” I still think those nine words provide the most illuminating glimpse into West’s creative psyche. He consistently redefines himself by rejecting whatever the world expects of him in that moment.
Right off the rip in 2004, he rejected the importance of street credibility by introducing himself as a dreamer in a Polo shirt. Later, he rejected rap’s demand for masculine toughness, and melted into the wounded puddle of “808s & Heartbreak.” Then he rejected his own need for affection, and became the snarling paranoiac of “Yeezus.” Then he rejected the idea of mastery, and slid into the sloppy narcissism of “The Life Of Pablo.” So what happens if West actually TED-walks his TED-talk? Can he truly reject the value of money? Will he have stepped into rap music’s final frontier? What will that sound like?
“Sometimes you have to get rid of everything.” That’s something West tweeted on Tuesday, and if he’s actually living by those words, he might be following in the footsteps of Sonny Rollins and Leonard Cohen, who, decades ago, checked themselves into ashrams to get quiet and learn what their brains were truly up to. While Rollins and Cohen didn’t come down from their respective mountaintops with radically new musical visions, they did seem to achieve some kind of inner clarity up there. So maybe West is just shushing his psychic turbulence and the music he makes from here on out doesn’t change all that much.
But is that even possible? And when “you have to get rid of everything,” your maximalist hyper-pop has to change — dramatically, right? (We should find out soon. West tweeted on Thursday afternoon that he’d be releasing a new solo album on June 1, and a collaborative album with Kid Cudi on June 8.) Contemplating that change is the fun part. Because even when we’re cracking on him for tweeting fortune cookies for tech-bros, there’s still a wonder sparkling in the back of our brains — the wonder that comes from trying to feel the contours of unheard music.
To that point, here’s something incredibly useful West tweeted on Wednesday: “Just be still and enjoy your own imagination.”