Interview: Kanye West
Fashion icon, award-winning recording artist and one half of the world’s most talked about couple, Kanye West was the eleventh participant in our In Camera live interview series. He spoke to Lou Stoppard on 6 October 2015 at 13:00 BST.
Fashion icon, award-winning recording artist and one half of the world’s most talked about couple, Kanye West was the eleventh participant in our In Camera live interview series. He spoke to Lou Stoppard on 6 October 2015 at 13:00 BST.
- Q. You’re one of the most famous men in the world. I think everyone has an opinion on you - I really noticed that when preparing for this interview. Everyone thinks they know you. I’ve watched quite a few of your interviews recently and you’ve talked about this idea of not being heard. There’s kind of an irony to that as you have such a big direct reach, but I got the sense that you really felt that you were not being listened to or not being understood. Do you think anyone fully understands Kanye West? Do you think you’re very different to your public persona? Have you created that in some way? Lou Stoppard, editor of SHOWstudio
Yeah, I do think there’s people who understand. They see it. It’s like the same people who can feel an earthquake coming on, or see a tsunami coming. I think there’s people who don’t want to embrace what it really is so they use their position of like class, or snobbery, or whatever comments they have, to just try to always down things and to not give it its just due, or just opportunity as a form of discrimination. Y’know, most people don’t understand who they are so people’s misunderstanding of me is a misunderstanding of themselves. They don’t understand that he’s not being the projected version of himself. He’s not being what he was taught by current society, taught by this lifetime. He’s evoking something from another place and this is unfamiliar; this is alien to us. It’s easier for us to shun it than to really try to dig deeper and find out more about it. It’s funny that so many people that are supposed to be so super educated love to pick the lowest hanging fruit of the concept, of like fame or celebrity, as a way to diminish or to take away the validation of what is being done up to this point and what will be done in the future.
- Q. What do you consider your greatest contribution to music and also your greatest contribution to creativity? Sam Hollis, 18, New Zealand
Greatest contribution to creativity is taking away the bullying. People bully creatives. Well, y’know, I’m sure I bully myself sometimes but taking away people being able to bully you because you’re a creative. We’re bullied and controlled by organisations and money and you know the people with money are in power. That’s going to change after me and Kim’s lifetime. It’s going to go back to when people used to philosophise and talk about proportions and shape and colour and what we can do for the next generations, but right now it’s all about what people can do to make the most money and how they can not cut creatives in on any profit and use creatives against themselves in a way. Like if they know someone is a genius but not business smart, they take advantage of that. So, me constantly fighting that on the front line I think is the greatest thing I’ve tried to open up, so that creatives can be more empowered, because I believe the world can be saved or helped, and the world meaning us as human beings, our civilisation, us as a race, as one race, can be helped through allowing people with more positive motives, who see more colours than just green. To help be at least a part of the conversation and be heard and listened to. What was the first question?
- Q. It was about your greatest contribution to music, but maybe you don’t think like that anymore? Lou Stoppard
Yeah… Music synthesis. Just to synthesise. To take Mos Def and bring him to the studio with Jay Z, I think is the greatest... When people say ‘oh this is backpack or this is gangster,’ or to go on tour with Roc-A-Fella with a chain and have people boo me and be like ‘Roc-A-Fella is not hip hop’ and fight against that. Now, it’s considered to be one art form. Like what Louise Wilson would always talk about, there’s this juxtaposition, high, low, these opposites and combining them. This combination that makes a greater civilisation and a greater human being. The actual human being a thousand years from now, generally, as a race we should be far advanced. Like at the beginning of ‘Prometheus’, like how that guy was just like *chtchhhhhe noise*. He was like Mike Tyson meets Steve Jobs meets Shakespeare as a person. There was a time when people were working on multiple things and have multiple art forms and businesses and different things that they could do but now you’re only supposed to be able to do one thing and in the future, people will be highly skilled in a lot of things because they won’t be afraid to fight for their education.
- Q. You seem to be very open to making brave decisions and I think in someway that relates to pushing yourself to new arenas. Like the opening of BLKKK SKKKN HEAD, with the three black KKK hoods, and not putting New Slaves on YouTube or appearing naked in the BLKKK SKKKN HEAD video. Do these decisions feel brave at the time? Do you think you’re being brave? And what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Nick Knight, director of SHOWstudio
There’s nothing to be afraid of really. I don’t even want to take too much credit for being brave. I think it’s just a responsibility of ours as artists to give our truth at that time. And it’s as simple as that. Soldiers are brave. It’s their responsibility to go and fight for their country. Police officers are brave... Firefighters, it’s their responsibility to go into a fire. For us as an artist, it’s our responsibility to give our truth. So I just think, more than courage or bravery or anything, it’s just…
- Q. Honesty? Lou Stoppard
Yeah honesty… Some of the answers I’m gonna give aren’t gonna make complete sense. If you’re a very literal, by the book person, you might find a flaw in the final finishing, as opposed to understanding the gist of what I’m saying. The other day, I came up with an equation that explains the way visionaries think as opposed to very calculated people. If someone asked you what is 2 add 3, most people would say 5. If you put 2 and 3 in front of me, I’m gonna say, 2 plus 3 is 5, 2 x 3 is 6, 2 divided by 3 is this, 3 divided by 2 is that, and then come up with an average of all those things and then when you say that 5.76 blah blah blah, that is the thing that people marvel at. Like, ‘Wow, that really was not what I was expecting or not what we wanted to put you in a box for, but I felt like I got something more out of it.’ And that is the calculation of the zeitgeist because everyday, something changes. People get so caught up in the embarrassment of changing their mind in front of someone. One thing could change everything, so you have to put that as a part of your 2 and 3 equation. You don’t have to, but I put it as a part of my 2 and 3 equation.
- Q. You’ve called yourself a visionary and you’ve equated yourself to all these different people: Da Vinci, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo… How would you define a genius in that context? Also, why do you feel the need to call yourself that? Sam Thompson, 21, London
Because otherwise I’m called celebrity. I’m called nigga. I’m called rapper. And when they use the words celebrity, nigga or rapper, it’s not in a positive way. All those words can be used in a positive way, ‘What’s up my nigga?’ That’s not the way it’s used, so I have to define who I am. All of my aspirations are things that currently only 60-year-old white people do. So I have to redefine and let people know exactly who I am. And it’s not letting them know by wearing a suit, or letting them know by wearing a Rolex or letting them know by bragging about how much money a sponsorship made on top of a rap. It’s letting them know by saying, ‘Let’s start with this, I’m a creative genius.’ It’s proven and I will continue to prove it. You know when people try to take the piss out of me for clothing and this and that, they never think about the fact that I never had the opportunity to be properly educated. And if given the means to be properly educated or even given the proper support group, I would completely light the lights up. So we sell shoes that people want to line up for because we put love in them, we put heart in them, we want to make Christmas presents, we want to make something that people want so bad that it hurts them if they can’t have it. It’s not just a financial opportunity. Of course you need finances but it’s a form of discrimination and racism. Especially with blacks in fashion. And it took me being Kanye West to get this far in fashion. I was able to become a multimillionaire and invest in myself because no one else would have in a million years. I’ve got this one employee that’s a black guy, and sometimes there’ll be a piece of misinformation. Three weeks later, he’ll tell me something and he says it kind of like with his voice down. And I remember being with my dad, and my dad was the type of dad who would be everybody’s dad. A guy would come in and want to sell some cookies, and my dad was a salesman, so he would say, ‘Excuse me, I’ve got these cookies,’ and my dad would say ‘Yo, sir, pick your head up and explain to me what you want to say and what you want to sell.’ This guy, this employee, because blacks - especially in America - have been raised with a slave mentality, don’t feel they have the right to speak as loud as possible and every time you hear a black person speaking as loud as possible, it’s after somebody’s gonna say, ‘Look at those niggas over there.’ So if you don’t want to be called a name in a derogatory way, you’d rather put it in… What’s people’s favourite word to use for me? Humble? If you go on your iPhone right now and you go to the dictionary and look up ‘humble’, 80% of the definition is negative. It’s a controlling word; it’s a way to control the masses and control the sheep. Yeah, I think there’s a level of reality to being nice, to being cordial to people. But if you have the ability to lead, if you are a leader or you have the answers or you have the ability to find people with the answers, and your will is to help, you should not be humble. You should speak up. Because this world is broken. So someone needs to say something. And sometimes I just feel like I’m the only one that’s not crazy.
- Q. Do you think the resistance and criticism to your work is being partly because you are a black man and would your ideas and work be received differently if you were a white man? Aravin Sandran, 25, London
If I was a white man that became a really successful musician, that box would have put me in a chamber that would have said that I shouldn’t work. So there’s a lot of white people that if they’re really super good at something, they also get discriminated against in another field. You could be a photographer and someone would say you can’t be an artist. You could be a designer and someone would say you can’t be a musician or someone would say you can’t be a film director. As far as the advantages in life, yes, if you are born white, you have that on your gene pool. Currently because the world is controlled by whites, you have that as a 100, as an advantage, and if you add a couple of other things to it, you have a very high chance of success. Whereas, because the world is run by whites currently, if you’re born black, if you make it to something like the Met Ball or the Grammys, most likely you’ve done ten times the amount of everyone else there to get there.
- Q. Your clothing line has been greeted with a lot of harsh criticism. Do you reflect like a lot of designers do, where they take that criticism and they use it to kind of develop their aesthetic and change their work? Or does it just make you even more convinced in your belief and vision? Simon Foxton, stylist
Yeah, I’m convinced that I know what I like and I know that I just know. I know and I don’t care. I don’t care because anyone that is criticising, most likely they saw the 350s and acted like they didn’t like them because they’re racist and discriminatory. They’re not only racist against black people; they discriminate against celebrity. They discriminate against people with multiple art forms. Or they could say, ‘Oh wait a second, that cut wasn’t that good,’ but they do enough to throw a stab at, ‘Oh that didn’t fall the right way’ or ‘That wasn’t styled the right way.’ But they didn’t do the research on how difficult it was to one by one put together a design team and to fight against the idea of celebrity, to get overcharged because you’re a musician or people feel like you have money, to get completely taxed by the fashion world. And I love it because it’s like going to Harvard. That’s the reason why I’m in fashion. I think it’s the ultimate training because I dropped out of art school. Eventually, I got a PHD this year, like a honorary PHD at the Art Institute of Chicago. I dropped out of that school and I wanted to go back to the school of hard knocks. Right now, in all honesty... You know whatever the fuck I’m going to say today, I’m going to say it and I’m just gonna fucking own it and that’s how I feel right now. If I feel differently in three years, I’ll tell you how I feel... but right now, the highest art form is actually fashion. What’s funny about that is people in art look down at fashion designers. It’s like a class... I mean, where’s architecture? The most energy currently is around fashion because with music, it’s in question if a song is popular, if that person is really a good artist or not. In fashion, for the most part, if someone is really popular, it’s because it’s agreed upon that they’re an amazing artist. They’re amazing at what they’ve done. People do the history on what their background is. Did they intern for Christian Lacroix? Did they work at Margiela for a period? They find out what the history is and see if that someone is making a connection to something that is current, that’s relative, that is in touch. And fashion designers are superstars currently too. It feels like hip-hop felt to me in the nineties. It’s like, me, I’m a hip-hop artist but it’s like why are you going to the fashion world? I mean it’s just a really interesting art form. It’s just a different art form. Business is an art, the way you talk to people is art, an interview can be an art, everything is a form of art. I appreciate the critics because when I see the collection I just did and when I used the stretch French Terry that I found in Japan and I use on market canvas, like heavyweight canvas, and I put it in my colour palette and I see 64 different tones come down together, you know, I’ve created like a moving expressionist painting and that satisfies me. So if someone was to go up to a Monet and say, ‘This dot wasn’t Louis Vuitton level,’ it’d be like, ‘What do you mean?’ It’s all an expressionist painting. By the way, you know we die. 80 years, 60 years, 50 years, you know we will die. But on that day, I lived.
- Q. Your dad was in the Black Panthers and your last collection did have a very political undertone. It was very much about racism.. Natalie Wo
Wait a second, is that a white person who said that?
- Q. I don’t know her ethnicity. Lou Stoppard
I think it’s racist when white people assume when a black person uses colour, it’s a political statement.
- Q. Were you not making a political statement?
No! It’s a painting. It’s beautiful colours. That statement is not gonna stop the murders in Chicago. That statement is not gonna help people get jobs. That statement is not gonna take guns out of hands in Atlanta. That statement is not going to stop Zimmerman from bragging about… It’s such a thing like I had this one stylist come up to me and Virgil was standing next to me and said, ‘You need to watch out for him. He’s taking your place.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, the one spot for the black guy at the dinner table in fashion? That place? Is that what you’re talking about?’ So the assumption that my artistic expression of clothing has something to do with race or politics - a more politically correct term ironically for racism - is racist in itself.
- Q. A lot of fashion designers do see their work as political so maybe that’s why people see your work as political or about social issues. Perhaps it’s a compliment. They want to read something into your work because they think it has depth and it matters. It doesn’t seem like you see it like that? Like McQueen’s work for example, people saw it as political. Lou Stoppard
Yeah, I’m not gonna let anyone score points on me. If someone asks me about something, I’m gonna block all shots and I’m not gonna take any free points. I’m not gonna have someone say, ‘Oh I heard you knocked that guy out two weeks ago while this happened,’ and I would be like, ‘Oh yeah…’ No. If it wasn’t my intention for it to be political and everyone gives it this credit, and somehow they’re giving it a credibility, I’m like well no… I don’t even want that kind of credit. I don’t want anything that I don’t deserve. I just want a chance to drink at the clear fountain. I just want a clean shot. I just want a clean bat to swing, I want a clean bat to be able to swing at the ball with. Every one of these questions are gonna show the amount of dirt that’s actually on the bat.
- Q. Do you think it would be easier for you if you weren’t famous then? Lou Stoppard
Yeah, being famous is like the n-word. People remind me at every meeting about how famous I am. But somehow…. No, it wouldn’t be easier. The answer is absolutely no. You need fame in order to sell your shit. That’s why people pay for advertisers. So I’m basically the first of a celebrity that approached his entire career and life like he was an old bag brand that went and re-did itself and went and got a really cool designer that Anna Wintour suggested, to revitalise it and became a really big brand… Meaning like celebrities have always had a way that they were supposed to do business with licensing deals and this and this, but I always approach myself in a luxury way whether it’s calling Nick Knight a million times to work with him or going to factories in Italy or begging Tessiclub - which hasn’t called me back yet - to use their fabrics because they do Céline and Lanvin. I’ve always fought just to have better paints to work with. When I was in high school, I was at this national competition where I did a watercolour and the colour was really intense and I lost the competition because the judges were confused. They said either it’s not really watercolour because the paint was too thick or I used watercolour in the wrong way. So I lost because of that. I don’t know where those judges are today but…
- Q. What will you name your son and what do you hope for him as he gets older? Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of US Vogue
I don’t have a name for him, but what I hope for him is that he can feel purpose, that he can learn, that he has the opportunities. The other night, I was driving in Paris and I saw these three high school kids running at top speed. I don’t know if they were chasing a guy or what. Once they got up to the street, there was a bus pulling off and they’re beating on the side of the bus. Then I looked at the time and it was 1am so that might be the last bus of the night. And I was really saddened because I was like, ‘How can I make my son feel that?’ Because once you’ve felt that, none of these fucking questions matter. When you’ve missed that last bus before, when you had the opportunity to get on the bus, you don’t give a fuck about any of this.
- Q. When have you felt that? Lou Stoppard
When I’ve missed the last fucking bus! Going through the streets of Chicago and having to sleep downtown in a parking lot.
- Q. Do you still get that feeling today about different things? Lou Stoppard
No, it’s almost like not feeling anything. It’s almost like being numb because of what I went through. There’s an employee that I’m about to hire that was the global manager of accessories at a really good company and she was really direct in the way she was talking. Then she went into this thing about how she stayed in a concentration camp till she was five years old and she didn’t know that people actually took showers by themselves. After someone’s been through something like that, they could give a fuck less about fuck. It’s just like... be real. None of this facade.
- Q. Do you care about the negative press coverage around you and your family? But also just the general coverage that your every move is scrutinised? Floris Boonen, 17, The Netherlands
Yeah. And that’s the reason why, with the help of Anna Wintour and other people, we have actually made a lot of positive press coverage. The majority of the press we get is actually positive because the majority of the things that we do are actually positive. And even the negative can’t outshine the truth. The truth shall come to light. You see it in front of you. You read this thing and they try to diminish me into some really simple concept and simple idea and every time someone has a conversation about this and that, they’re like, ‘Wow, it’s a possibility that he’s thinking about more things and he wants to contribute more than I thought.’ So, let me dig into what I think the gist is of what that person was asking. Do I worry about being in the public eye and raising kids? Yeah. Any situation you’re in, you’re going to worry about raising kids. But it’s champagne problems too. There’s people who can’t feed their kids. That’s something more to worry about. So I’m not going to sit here and complain about the so-called issues I have. These aren’t real issues. There’s people at war. There’s people trying to make it to London right now. It’s really fucking serious. You guys are talking to me about some celeb shit. That’s not real shit. You know what? I’m alive. I’m breathing. I did a show. We sell it. I’m doing a second collection. I have no problems.
- Q. How has becoming a father changed the way you work? Carine Roitfeld, stylist
Well, the way it changed who I was... Three years ago, after this interview, I would have been on a train back to Paris to see the last of the shows and get that inspiration. And now, I’m on the first flight back home to see my greatest inspiration that’s my daughter.
- Q. Has having a daughter changed the type of explicit lyrics you put into a song? Ashley Geevers, 18, New Jersey
Having a family period has completely made me rethink the way I rap. You know people extend their brand for a long time. There’s true moments of genius and then there’s just moments of looking through the archives and placing shit together. So many people rate ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ as one of the best albums. And ‘Yeezus’ and ‘808s & Heartbreak’ are so much better and stronger. ‘Dark Fantasy’ is almost like an apology record. ‘Power’ was the least progressive song that I ever had as a first single. It was like me going back and spending six dedicated months - it took over two years to release the album - but six dedicated months piecing together what people liked about me, to make an entire bouquet that they loved, that was the most listenable, that was the least challenging. People want to talk about how much they loved that like it was Thanksgiving dinner. And how long has Thanksgiving dinner been cooked for? And it’s great, you don’t want anybody changing things on Thanksgiving dinner. But you take ‘808s’ or ‘Yeezus’ where these albums got completely panned when they came out and then you see how they end up influencing things. So it’s that balance of doing something that gives you a blanket of comfortability for the listeners and for yourself that you can go on tour and do this and walk around and everybody thinks it’s so great and they’re really happy that you did something they liked. And then you’ve got the times when you just have to give them what you see as your future. Give them your innovation.
- Q. And having a family gives you more motivation to do that? To be more true to yourself? Lou Stoppard
- Q. That just comes from you? Lou Stoppard
I just love my family.
- Q. You talked about wanting to be given a shot and wanting to have your opportunity. Do you actually believe that one day you will be respected and regarded as one of the greatest of all time in fashion in exactly the same way you are in music? Jeremy Mullings, 19, Florida
Of course. I’m Michelangelo. Of course. There’s a time when I’m sure there were people sculpting better than Michelangelo, but he made David. So as far as that question goes, is there a time that you can go on the internet and find a shoe that people want more than my shoes? Well go fuck yourself then if it isn’t and don’t ask me no stupid shit like that again. With the love.
- Q. Do you ever experience self-doubt? Lou Stoppard
- Q. Never? Lou Stoppard
- Q. Even when you were little? Lou Stoppard
- Q. Okay, good to know. One thing that came in from a lot of people: they picked up on that quote of your fashion being available to everybody. They want to know what that means and when it will happen because price point really relates to that. Lou Stoppard
I’m not H&M, I don’t have giant factories. How can I get the price point to what I need it to be if I’m running an eight person design team... I’m saying it’s going to take time to get there. This is what I’m saying when you don’t have the right tools. This is the question that everybody has to ask. If you had the Céline design team and the Nike design studio and the Zara factory, could you do everything that you thought you could do? And what would everyone’s answer be to that? Yes. But if you don’t have the Céline outerwear person or the factory or you don’t have the entire adidas studio and you don’t have the marketing team or the sales team, you can only do what you can do. And we are doing a lot with what we have. What we have is the highest level of communication that has happened in the entire universe. My wife. She’s like MTV and NBC and all this combined. Number one on Instagram. And then the entire family. And then you have me and my entire music family. Basically, there is no ad that you can put in any magazine that could somehow add up to any one of me or my friends or my family just walking on the street and getting photographed. That is the fucking reality of 2015 people!
- Q. Does that make it easier to care less about critics? Because as you say, it doesn't really matter what they say. The percentage of people that would engage with that is a fraction of the percentage of people that would see one Instagram post from Kim. Lou Stoppard
Yeah you know… I mean, what can I say about them? I appreciate everyone’s opinion, but I refuse to have a lesser opinion about myself.
- Q. What specifically do you think fashion is missing that you can bring? Cameron Canty, 18, Dallas, Texas
I’m not even concerned about bringing something to fashion. I’m just... I just want to be five years old. You know, when I was five years old I picked out my outfit for kindergarten. I would go to discount furrier, my mum would take me to discount furrier and I would keep grabbing furs and say, ‘What about this one mum? Or this one?’ And they were always too expensive. The ones I liked when I was five. So I just want to be five years old. I loved clothes before I even knew a fuck about the fashion world. And I can’t let the fashion world jade anything or try to give me a reason, or purpose, or a lack of purpose, or acceptance or a lack of acceptance to anything to just who I am when I was five. When my grandfather had a store in Oklahoma and he’d go to the flea market and hustle to get the best prices. He’d go and re-do people’s furniture, he was a carpenter also. He took that store and he was able to raise a family in a time where the schools were still segregated and he named my mother Donda in 1949. He was predicting the future in 1949 and put himself in a situation where he was thirteen and his father put 50 cents in his hand and told him he was out of there. He raised himself in a situation to be able to put my mother into college to the point where she got a PhD and became the first black female chair of Chicago State University. And then had a son that she then named Kanye which meant 'the only one' that would go on to combat every form of thought, of tradition, that the media have presented up to that point. So tell me about other people’s opinions again?
- Q. Is it your family who have had the biggest impact on your creativity, your sense of self and what you produce? Or were there other influences? It feels like all your creativity came from your sense of self, which obviously came from your family. Or am I wrong? Lou Stoppard
I can’t say where my creativity came from. I’m blessed to be talented. I would say that came from God. My ability to give a fuck about somebody’s opinion came from my family. My ability to fight for my creativity came from my family. I’m sure people would just take that Michelangelo comment I said earlier and would take offense to that and think ‘Whoa, he still won’t stop.’ Let me just explain the justification of that. The proof of that. Ask any musician, period, of the past fifteen years - and I would be the closest thing to that. Those were the sonic paintings. Fashion, clothes are sculptures, wearable art. Now, if you think about any brand, do you love every single thing from a brand? Look at the few opportunities I got to collaborate with Louis Vuitton, Nike, Adidas - really established companies - and the level of love and impact people have for that product. That had proper infrastructure. So I had to take the money I made from being the motherfucking Michelangelo of music of the past fifteen years and invest it in trying to build an infrastructure against all odds, and basically building a sculpture studio. So I wanted to raise the branch up a little bit higher on that low-hanging fruit everyone was going to snatch at.
- Q. Why run for president? You have proven to be more influential than a president and running for office would limit your ideas. Everything you could do and would want to do as president can be done now. Other great leaders, Gandhi, Mandela, never needed to be elected to make a change, so why do you feel the need? Caden Roberts, 14, Indiana
Mandela got elected.
- Q. Yeah, he’s fourteen, give him a break. Lou Stoppard
OK, I won’t start cursing at him. Certain things that I’m compelled to do in life, I don’t feel the need to find justification for.
- Q. So you’re definitely going to do it? Lou Stoppard
- Q. When you made that announcement, was it something you decided on the day or did it just come in the moment that you felt that and you just said it? Lou Stoppard
It had been talked about a lot for the past five years and talked about with my team and I decided I was going to announce it then.
- Q. Do you think Barack Obama has done enough? A lot of people have asked you that. Lou Stoppard
I don’t want to make comments or give opinions on what other people have done. I think he’s done a lot of great things and I think that there would be no chance of people even considering the concept of me running if he hadn’t have won.
- Q. Will you run with a party or will you run alone? Lou Stoppard
I don’t have all the answers right now.
- Q. What do you plan to do? What are the some of the things you really want to do when you’re in leadership? Ivan Romero, 19, Miami; Aaron Lewis, 21, Philadelphia
I’d like to sit with engineers and come up with solutions and alternatives for people without opportunity that end up having to go through desperate measures or feel like life isn’t worth living or that other people’s lives don’t matter. I think that the way I collaborate with people and the way I empower the people I collaborate with is a different way to look at problem solving for the world than a normal political way. I just want to ask questions. I’ve already decided that when I’m on debates and I don’t know, I’ll just say ‘I don’t know, I’ll get back to you with that,’ and I’ll just consult with the top ten, top five people on the planet and if there isn’t an absolute right answer, I’ll say, ‘These are the two highest answers that we came up with right now,’ because it’s not about me. It’s we. That’s the whole purpose. It’s the skill set that brought me back from the original Taylor Swift moment, the skill set that took the little kid in the pink polo to the top of the rap game. That skill set that took a Nike designer and three Adidas designers and made the hottest shoe. The skill set that brought my wife to the cover of Vogue. All of these journeys that… Like these questions say, these absolute, like, this can’t be done, have been almost self-serving and that’s where it gets the I-I-I. It’s from me and it’s from my family. My family meaning my direct family, but what happens if there is a certain point where it doesn’t become about me and my family but my family becomes the human race. I can do all the fight, all of that confidence, all of that problem solving, all of that asking questions, all of that trying to find the best answers, and listening through… If I could maybe do that to help more people and you can help more people in a position of power to go back to the gentleman’s question earlier. These are just now in a theory form, but I am speaking from the heart.
- Q. A few people have correlated the president run with your lyrics and particularly the lyric about 'No one man should have all that power.' It’s interesting, you just said you can change your mind, you can be wrong about things. Do you sometimes feel your own ideas have changed so much in the years you’ve been working? Lou Stoppard
Of course because you get new information.
- Q. Does it frustrate you though? Because people are inevitably going to draw the parallel between the lyric and the fact you’re going to run for president. Lou Stoppard
That’s not frustrating. There were some things earlier that were frustrating to me because they were so backhanded and ignorant in their approach, not really embracing... But no one’s being like ‘Man, I know I saw people lined up for three days for your shoes but one day, will you be respected as a designer?’ I designed that shoe, didn’t I? I don’t see somebody else’s shoes getting lined up for. I think there are a lot of fourteen year old, fifteen year old, twenty-five year old, thirty-five year old people that respect me as a designer.
- Q. I met you at a dinner in Paris with Riccardo Tisci and we had a really great talk and one thing stuck in my mind. You said that you felt that there was a new form of racism called class, and no one was talking about it. I found that really interesting because I come from a radical background (my father was a Marxist) and you told me your parents were also radicals. Can you explain to me more what you mean about that and is that something you want to explore further? Bobby Gillespie, lead singer of Primal Scream
Yeah it’s... class is education. People not having the opportunity to be educated. The biggest thing that made me the uncontrollable whatever is simply by being educated. Simply being educated made me uncontrollable. It’s not that I needed to be controlled. I needed to be helped, I needed to be supported. I don't wish negative on anyone. I want positive for everyone. I want everyone to win. I don’t want to be in a competition with anyone. I just want people to be their best selves and live the happiest lives possible. If you keep information and opportunity away from people, certain people, a group of people, then it’s destined they will stay at a lower class. The combination of that and being American. Because I found sometimes when I’ve worked at other design studios in London before, I find that because of the way the government is set up, people won’t have the opportunity to say they will run for being the Queen. I’m going to run for the Queen! That’s from birth. And you couldn’t be the president of the United States because you’re not a United States citizen. So it sort of circumcises your dreams from day one. Whereas America is like a land of opportunity where people can work their way, climb their way up through the class system. But to be truly honoured as a black person in what is a classless society - the final house in the suburban community with the white picket fence - and to be looked at as an equal is still a lot of mixed kids away from that. But the world is mixing. Period. So in a thousand years, the world might just be completely, what would be known as black currently, but it would just be a new race, except for people whose main goal and focus at that time is to keep the purity of separatism. But I see the future as people being mixed. I think that other races are really attracted to each other and always have been, because I believe that we’re meant to, but taught to not. I was taught to never bring a white girl home when I was eight years old. But I like white girls. I liked black girls too but I still liked white girls. It was such a taboo. I’m sure, like I said in the Tyler song, ‘I know you told your daughters don’t take home Jerome.’ I’ll tell you from my single days that white women like black guys, I tell you that, but I think there’s something amazing about mixing the cultures and the amount of informations that both cultures bring to the table. Or three cultures or four cultures. You ask a girl and she’ll say: ‘I’m German and Portuguese and Asian.’ Just when I gave you that right now. What do you picture in your mind? There are probably guys gong: ‘Ah shit, I have to meet this German-Portuguese-Asian girl right now!’ They already picture someone beautiful. Just by me naming different races together and having the idea that a woman is saying that she’s mixed with these, you picture automatically someone beautiful.
- Q. A lot of people asked about your vision for the world and what you’d like it to be like. It seems like that mixing of ethnicities and cultures is the most important thing to you? Lou Stoppard
I’m not telling people who they should sleep with. I’m just zoning in on what I feel today.
- Q. Do you feel like if you hadn’t dropped out, you would be where you are? Because I think education is important but maybe the ability to opt out of the system is also important. Joseph Chambliss, 21, Virginia Beach
I think I would be further and more dangerous. Yes, education is important. I’m envious of people who have read multiple novels and multiple philosophy books. I wish I had more information. I’m thirsty for knowledge. I’m busy with my own ideas. I want to pick up a book and see something that sparks me and it makes me think of thirty things I want to do and I’ll put down the book and start working on that. I’m envious of information. So college dropout… Now me at my age I’m looking... OK what were the reasons why I lost money when I did this? What were the reasons why I failed at that? It all came to not having the playbook, to not having information. With me, when I work on fashion, I’m sitting here in the woods trying to chop down trees screaming screaming at the top of my lungs: ‘Can somebody just throw me some water?’ and everyone’s sitting laughing at me. That’s the fashion world, that’s the fashion critics. Me sitting here, trying my absolute hardest, and everyone just laughing at me. And only one person coming up with a camera and Nick shooting a shot that then shoots across the world and they say ‘Oh he’s working with Nick Knight,’ and then Pat coming in doing the makeup, they go: ‘Oh, he’s working with Pat,’ or Riccardo coming in and saying: ‘No you can’t talk about Kim, this is my friend right here,’ they say: ‘Oh wow, the hottest designer likes Kim.’ Then the fashion world is like: ‘Hmm maybe it’s okay.’ And then they come again and say: ‘What, do you think we can capitalise off of this in some way? Well come, come! We can capitalise and shit!’ But they definitely were not fucking letting me in the shows, and fucking constantly laughing at me, and trying to keep the joke going. But you know, there’s a lot of tsunamis and earthquakes that hit where people were joking on the beach. So keep joking on the beach.
- Q. The Kim thing is interesting to me. I feel, particularly working in fashion, I feel like I’ve watched it happen, the period where people were so critical and now they want her in their shows, they want to dress her, they want her on the front row. That must upset you in a way because she’s your wife and as you said, you love her. To see that U-turn, in a way, it’s great, because it shows how much people respect her and they can see how amazing her influence is, but also that back-handedness. Is that difficult? Because you must feel protective. Lou Stoppard
It’s always, always… It’s better now than it was and I feel happy about that.
- Q. We got a question from a guy who talked about gay people within music and within the rap world and stigma towards homosexual rappers. He talked about how you talk a lot about society moving past stigma and being accepting. He said do you feel that’s still a problem within music? Lou Stoppard
Yeah, it’s funny. Isn’t it so funny how just the culture of different art forms is so different? I felt that I got discriminated against in fashion also for not being gay whereas in music, you definitely get discriminated against if you are gay. It takes some amazing talents to really break down that barrier. People don’t have a problem with white rappers now because Eminem ended up being the greatest artist and everybody thought that when Frank Ocean’s album dropped, that people were going to be like, ‘No, this is bad for his career,’ and he’s one of the greatest writers of all time... I feel like it’s so cliche to speak about him particularly related to this subject but there always are the people who broke the ground and I think he’s the one that broke the ground. People don’t give a fuck. They love his music so so much. It’s the people that break the stereotypes that make history but I just thought it was interesting to point that out about the fashion world and the music world and just culturally, it’s reverse discrimination.
- Q. How did you feel when you heard that your stepfather was going to transition and become a woman? Willo Perron, creative director
You know the first thing I did think of is I thought about black radio hosts maybe possibly making jokes about it because the black culture is generally so homophobic. News cycles are just constantly… They’re just trying to find some news and some interesting things like, ‘This rapper has this transgender person in his family and…’ But then I was like fuck what people say. Fuck what people think. I feel proud to be in a family that has so many people breaking ground for the generations to come. I just feel like whoa reality show… like that’s so fucking new of an art form to the point where my wife and their family should have had plenty of Emmy’s by now. But reality shows are considered to be like rap was when the Mondrian wouldn’t let Run DMC and motherfucking Will Smith stay there because they were rappers... or the idea of a reality star not being allowed into a fashion show or not being nominated for their show even if it’s the longest running and the most popular and everybody I know watches it and shit. I feel proud that not only my contribution of the credibility that I gained and garnished from music - and just my general social opinions - that I could be next to a wave of thought of this is who I am. And that is all I’m about. Like fuck, to let your life be controlled by public opinion would be like asking to sit in traffic for the rest of your life. Meaning like you want to turn this way but there’s a car right here, you want to turn that way but there’s a car right there, you want to go a bit faster but there’s a car right in front of you, you want to just stop, cars start honking at you. That’s public opinion and Bruce just got off the exit sign and drove as fast as he wanted to. Oh sorry, it’s disrespectful to use that name but I’m still getting acquainted with what’s politically correct because it’s new, it’s modern. This is like Roman times, bro, this time that we have - this 100 years - is really the beginning of the future. We finally tapped into the type of technology and acceptance and thought that we need to... Look at the new pope. It’s a bunch of dope motherfuckers out here that are just pushing towards the future. It’s funny that I went to this train of thought off of Willo’s question because he is one of, if not the most important person in my creative growth. He is my number one instructor. He is the reason why I was able to know who Nick Knight was. He is my greatest home tutor and educator. As I said, I felt like I had the spark in me but Mike Tyson needed a custom model, Hercules needed that little trainer guy in that movie... He is my greatest cultural coach - as far as Helvetica fonts go - and operatic stages and you know honing and training and riding bikes around Paris and analysing and philosophising about, you know, where the future can go. And the whole idea of Donda and what we do with design and the way we’ve simplified things. Album covers are important again, stage shows are important, the signs, long, only sonic outros to songs… This is all like an extension of my times and my trainings with Willo.
- Q. Hundreds of people asked this. Next album: When’s it actually coming? Tell us about the name. What are you trying to communicate with it? Lou Stoppard
Well as I said when I first said that name, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna keep that name but I just felt like I didn’t want to walk around with the name So Help Me God for the amount of time I was working on the album. I just felt like that was a heavy backpack to carry. ‘SWISH’ just kind of lightened the load so I could let it be whatever I want it to be. So I could just work on the painting and find something which... actually me and Nick today… He just showed me a piece. I could say the idea but I was really inspired by some things and you can find the purpose through a painting, through a video, through a conversation, through a sunset, through a really tragic headline and it’s like I was collecting these vibes and just things that I liked but the album had no purpose. And it was finding something that’s like, wait a second okay, it can go to something like this, I always wanted to do this. I did Cool Summer because I wanted to shoot surround vision. I had this idea and for people out there who don’t know what surround vision is, I was performing with Jay Z one night on Watch the Throne and I was just looking at how the whole audience were experiencing the performance and I thought of this theatre experience where it was a screen above us, below us, to the left of us, completely peripheral, to the right of us, and three screens in front of us and then we made this gyroscope system and put iPhones on it and recorded some kids running across the street. You saw them on this side, then you saw them in front of you then you saw them on that side. You heard them (because we had a multiple speaker system), you saw the ground below you and you saw the sky above you. Two weeks later, we went to Qatar and shot a film… My idea - because I couldn’t get money from movie houses - I went to Def Jam and said look, I’ll just do an album and the whole point was to get the budget. I was thinking this should be easy, you know, I’ve got all these rappers on my record label and blah blah blah. Then I ended up having to rap on seven songs and taking a while to finish the album. It still has a lot of amazing songs and the idea was I wanted to do an album that’s more commercial on purpose. I want to show that I can make radio songs because before that it was 808 and Dark Fantasy. It was very heavy. I want to show I can do something that’s lighter. I gave you this whole example to say the reason that I did the album was just so I could shoot that film.
- Q. A lot of people are asking about the films and what’s happening with them and when they’re going to get to see them. Lou Stoppard
Hopefully, yeah… I’m working on some ideas on how to be able to bring it back. I don’t want to make an announcement yet of when I think I’m bringing Cruel Summer back but we’re working on something right now.
- Q. In a lot of your last interviews, you focus so much more on fashion rather than music. It seems like your album has been delayed because you’re working on your clothing lines. Is fashion your main passion instead of music? Does music not excite you in the way it did a few years ago? Yuval Goldman, 18, Israel
No, it doesn’t excite me like when I heard Wu Tang. Of course it doesn’t excite me like that. It doesn’t excite me like when I was using auto-tune for my first time. It wasn’t my first time because I did it on College Dropout too. There were things to prove. There were purposes. There was Lauryn Hill and Dead Prez. There was this idea of mixing this kind of messaging meets the hotness of Rockafella and proving that this was a possible thing. I am an inventor. I am an innovator. It’s fine for other people to proliferate on an idea but I get excited by ideas, not by responsibility. So sometimes when I’m even writing a rap, it starts to feel like a big responsibility. If you look at Andre 3000 - one of the top five greatest rappers of all time - the majority of the time, he actually only had to write one verse... so as far as doing three verses, sometimes you start to feel more like you’re doing a talk show every night than doing some type of prophetic, every two year speech. I believe that there’s raps that I had that meant everything and I believe that there’s certain raps that were hot and there was something that meant something about hearing something that was just hot. So I’m not gonna say it meant nothing, but it meant nothing for lack of a better way to describe it, you know. People could want so many things out of you and you don’t want to let people down because of Michelangelo comments and things. You want to deliver genius, you want to prove people wrong, you want to prove people right that are fighting for you. And sometimes creatively because I’m held to task by the highest critics of every genre of art, I feel like I’m one of those guys that hundreds of years ago, they would steal something and their form of death would be to be tied to four horses then they’d whip all the horses at the same time and they’d pull the arms out of their sockets each way. That’s how it feels when I’m getting pressure from all the different angles. It feels like my arms and legs are being pulled out of my body at the same time.
- Q. So there’s no chance the album you’re working on will be your last just to stop a bit of that pressure? Lou Stoppard
I’d never call out what would be the last. I'd call out what would spark more inspiration. I will think of a philosophy or think of something I want to say. I think hm this would be a great opening line or maybe I want to abstract the way you even hear rap. A lot of people liked the original of ‘All Day’ better than the one that eventually got released and that was so much more like a freestyle but it left things really open which felt more like later Picasso works. Oh yes, as you guys know, I think I’m Picasso also or the closest thing to it. So lesser, equal or maybe even better. Maybe there’s something that’s more Cubist about the way I rap and that’s what I’m trying to find where. It’s like do you really need to paint every angel wing in? Their paintings weren’t completely finished. And here’s another thing. The majority of the things that are popular now are really directly based on something that I’ve done over the past ten years. You can pinpoint it. Like that was that album or that song.
- Q. Does that annoy you? Lou Stoppard
I think it’s amazing. I think I had a purpose. That was my purpose: to innovate. So if you hear something that sounds similar to something that I’ve done before, that is an extension of a new album for me.
- Q. So a lot of the people you talk about who you really admire or who you think are talented, do you often see yourself in the work that they’re making? Lou Stoppard
- Q. So people you’ve talked about working with or you’ve cited in conversations - Drake, Young Thug, all these different people - do you see that in their work? Lou Stoppard
I’m not trying to specify people but I just feel like there is a lot of influence and you can almost pinpoint the moments when things happened. But also, I was heavily influenced by Radiohead and James Brown and Coldplay and Jay Dillon and Jay Z and Tribe and Pharside and Dr Dre or Quincy Jones or Teddy Riley. So all of that was in my work too.
- Q. With your lyrical process, is it important to you that the listener completely understands explicitly what you’re saying, like with each line, or is it better that they just take the abstract emotional gist of the song? Grant Tyler
It totally relates to what I said earlier about finding... You know, I think that abstraction… I wrote this thing down the other day. I hope my words don’t get in the way of how I feel, my meaning. But words, fuck, you know, it’s an extremely powerful tool that can be… I just like abstracting music. I like to listen to Coltrane and say this is amazing. I feel an era of that. I feel a rise of that, possibly coming after so many words.
- Q. A lot of people really relate to specific words. He said he listened a lot to particular aspects of your music and he talks about suffering from anxiety and PTSD and he said your music has got him through a lot. He asked what gets you through similar things because maybe it’s your own music but he talks about when you’re feeling anxious or you’re feeling down or you’re feeling depressed. What do you turn to? Carl Swaygan, 25, Florida
I just talk to my wife.
- Q. What did you do before that? Lou Stoppard
Talk to my wife. Or talk to my would-be wife. I talk to my friends. I just talk. I get really explicit, you know, with the way that I feel at that time. I’m extremely open. That way, I can sweat the anxiety out. I open up the pores and sweat the anxiety out or sweat what I’m worried about or say, ‘What are we doing? If this is a game or this is a war, how many soldiers did we just lose? What can we do differently to win and to prove everyone wrong?’ I appreciate naysayers. I appreciate non-believers because also sometimes it’s weird for me when people do believe in me. Like someone’ll come up to me and be like, ‘Man, I believe you’re like Basquiat.’ People say stuff like that to me and I’ll just be like, ‘Wait a second, only I can say that about myself.’
- Q. That’s a question that someone asked about the pressure you feel on yourself because things like, ‘I Am A God’, this sense of you being a divine power, does that scare you? Does that freak you out? Lots of people wrote in and they said lovely things like his music’s got me through the hardest time, he stopped me from committing suicide, he stopped me from fucking up my life. But you must feel a sense of pressure from that when people treat you like you are this kind of god to them. Lou Stoppard
The reason why I made the song ‘I Am A God’ is so those people that feel less than can turn it up and say it loud and embrace it for themselves, that God is inside all of us. It wasn’t about specifically me. It was about us as a race; that we are an extension of God, that we all have God inside of us.
- Q. One question that came in a lot was: If you could give yourself advice now to when you were dropping out of college, what advice would you give? Lou Stoppard
There’s so many things that had to happen for me to be sitting here with you right now. It wouldn’t be truthful for me to give a statement as arrogant as ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’ because when I sit on a long flight to Paris, all I do is wallow in the things that I wish I could have changed, things that I would have tweaked. So as far as the college thing - I don’t seem to wallow on that that much but if you asked me a straightforward question about it, I’d say the more education, the better. The more you know… Well, sometimes you can know too much especially if you don’t have the opportunity to do things and it can drive you crazy. And that’s a bit of what the Yeezus period was like. To know that I was simply not succeeding due to lack of resource, due to lack of assistance, and to have shown so many times that you had an ability but for people to doubt your ability because you’re not playing your position; the position that they want you to play. You’re not tall enough to be centre or something like that.
- Q. What was the scariest moment of your life? Malik Davis
Probably my car accident. A lot of time, I try to find answers that are like, ‘Mmm I wouldn’t have expected that.’ But yeah, that was pretty scary.
- Q. You talk about luxury and about the only luxury we have being time. What do you spend most of your time doing? Rebecca Carrington, 22, Manchester
Working on luxury. That probably is it. I do spend the majority of my time working on my goals to create this creative ecosystem that allows a bunch of ideas to flow through them. I’m sure Nick could probably relate to that. I probably spend the most time on trying to create something that allows me to create everything.
- Q. Thinking about improving the world, what would you do to make London better? Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Widen the streets. Because I get really scared when there’s a truck driver coming. Like, how did they miss that truck?
- Q. How do you think your portrayal through lyrics, visual, quotes of the black woman formed pop culture’s understanding of black women? And do you think it is within the function of contemporary black male rappers to uplift their female counterparts in the face of adversity? Alani Nelson, 21, Maryland
I definitely think generally, rap is misogynistic and it’s just a part of - not saying it’s justifying the culture - I definitely think I’ve said ‘Bitch, get out the car’ in some of my lyrics and stuff like that. And is there a responsibility? I feel like rap, for the 20 years that I’ve studied it, it’s only, as a whole, responsible to trend. So the only way that specifically what she’s talking about would be hurt more if it was more in style. Rap is a communication of trend. It’s a communication of the way people are in real life. It’s a communication of what someone just said to their girlfriend on the phone or an argument they just had or something positive that just happened. What I notice is, there was a time when we had afro-centric rap and everybody was like how Common is. It was like ‘my queen, this, that.’ You haven’t even heard the word ‘queen’ so long in that context. What I’ve noticed is when I come home from a meeting with some head of a studio and I just get completely dissed and I show them a bunch of creative things - like on Despicable Me where he was trying to show his mum he could make a rocket and she was like, 'Whatever, that’s weak.' That’s how it is going to meet with people in Hollywood and showing them your ideas. They just shit on you, like ‘We don’t need that, it’s weak.’ And I’ll come home and I’ll find myself being more irritated and maybe being more rude with my wife. So let’s take that to the idea of a black male in America not getting a job or getting fucked with at his job or getting fucked with by the cops or being looked down upon by this lady at Starbucks and he goes home to his girl and… Just to think about my frustration and if I was rude to my wife because of that, we are like super well off to the point where this guy is like, ‘I can’t take my kids school shopping if I knock my manager the fuck out if he says this to me one more time.’ They cannot drink the Ye juice at all. They cannot turn up at all. It’s like you scream at the person closest to you. This song that Chief Keef put out that I sang the chorus on - I was singing I scream at you cause I can’t scream at nobody else - and then take that and you go to a studio and that frustration and disrespect is now coming out towards the woman next to you or the women around. Like we can’t wife you, you’re just a thot, we can’t do this, blah, blah, blah. And the guys around are just like, ‘You’d better not say that to them or I’ma shoot you.’ It’s from lack of opportunity. It’s from being inside of traffic - that thing I told you earlier - that lack of ability to see a way out and you just start being frustrated inside of that space… and then you go into the studio and that’s what it’s gonna sound like. ‘I’ma shoot you, fuck you, bitch’ because that ‘fuck you, bitch’ came from America. That ‘fuck you, bitch’ came from our lack of opportunities. That ‘nigga, I’ma shoot you’ came from racism which is an amazing tool. It’s like if you could put racism in the battery of your phone, it would never stop working. It works on itself. It’s residual and shit. Residual racism is to be in a racist situation where you’re working at this fucking job downtown blah blah blah, they’re treating you like shit, and you go home and you’re just mad at everybody. It’s like black people don’t even like black people at a certain point. Racism is the hate that keeps on hating. And I said this thing, I was sitting with Steve McQueen when we showed our piece that we did on ‘All Day’ and it we put it in the LACMA. Let me say that again just to purely be a dick because I said that knowing it was a stunt and very intellectual. So me and Steve McQueen… I think it’s a very impressive thing to say shit like that right after saying nigga, nigga, fuck, fuck, wee, wee, wee. I said, 'I just embrace racism.' He just looked at me like, 'What the fuck do you mean, you embrace racism?' I was like no, it’s here. This thing is like we’re in a jail cell. Are we gonna keep fighting this? How do we just embrace what’s in front of us as opposed to always pinpointing that it’s the reason you’re being held back? But I realised in order to truly be one of the greatest artists and one of the most remembered artists - I’ma get off the social subject and switch it more into the art and fashion context again - is that same assistance that I begged for and got frustrated for… The fact that I’m starting to do it without some of that assistance is what makes it truly historical and what demands the respect. And that’s the reason why even in the beginning, there’s like an intellectual olive branch of 'Your show had more meaning than just being an oversized sweatshirt.' I refused that intellectual… Get that fucking branch out of my face. I ain’t gonna take it. I ain’t gonna take the meaning that you proposed upon me. This is what I meant and if it’s not good enough for you, then fuck you. My Aunt, one time, she let me see Robocop and my Dad was really strict and I came home and was about to tell him and she grabbed me and said, ‘You’re really a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?’ Almost like a masochist or some shit, right. And like in a way, I am. I kinda like pain, I like the challenge, I like making things harder for myself because if you can beat the game on the hardest mode possible, you’ll be the best of all time. So that means if I become a good designer as a black straight American entertainer, rich dude, all the type of shit that says you shouldn’t be able to have any creative thoughts, then it’s like the ultimate fucking win. Then you’re like Eminem or Tiger Woods or Barack Obama, just someone who just completely broke all boundaries... And it’s exciting. This interview is exciting because it’s such a battle of perception and a battle of the intellects and a battle of culture and a battle of class, a battle of taste. It’s like y’all motherfuckers know I’m gonna win this battle. It’s so fun though. It’s so fun. Because the whole trick I always say is I’m an artist and an artist can basically take on any shape, form and an artist can paint anything. So when I’m like opening up the Yeezus mountain on tour and stuff with the Margiela mask… you know, some nights in the middle of one of my rants, I’m just like I’m sorry, the gig is up. I was actually never really a rapper, I was always an artist and that’s the reason why I’m just killing this shit so hard right now. So when you talk to the lighting guys, it might not come out as good but don’t feel bad because I’ve been trained since age 5 and went to college for this shit. It’s always like that secret thing, you know. It’s about sharing information. Jews are a culture that share information. That does not happen in the black community. For your family, your son, maybe. Day one, this is how this community works. This is how we grow together. And that racism, slave mentality, nigga mentality, show off mentality, I’ma fuck your bitch mentality, all that is like what makes a culture that has all the highest physical attributes going for it the weakest due to simply - like that speech DiCaprio gave on Django - simply removing the esteem and that is why I refuse to fucking back down. You have to know that you are somebody. You have to know that it’s possible whether you’re creative, whether you’re a black person in America, whether you’re a black person in London, you know, you have to know it’s possible. You have to see me keep winning against all odds. I will win until I die. I won’t lose. I can’t lose because then it’s like they win; ‘they’ meaning the mentality, the old guard of thought because we’re just a thought. A hundred years from now, we’re all just memories.
- Q. Do you feel it’s true all creatives die alone due to lack of understanding? In some ways, what you’re saying, you sound super positive but in other ways, there is that sense of pessimism and people not understanding. Do you think that statement’s true? Ian Connor, style influencer
Well, I’ve said a bunch of wild shit and my wife hasn’t left me yet so let’s hope not. But I think there will be someone who will understand everyone. I don't know. Maybe there is a someone for everyone. I’m trying to be overly positive.
- Q. I can’t really think of anything profound that I don’t already know about you… so here’s a really simple question that I actually don’t know. What would your last meal be? Kim Kardashian West
Oh it’d definitely be some of her home cooked fried chicken.
- Q. Going back to the women thing, it’s a question I want to know. Would you say you’re a feminist? Lou Stoppard
I think I’m a humanist. Is that a party? But yeah, come on, like so many black kids in America, I was raised majority by my Mum. My Dad was around - I would see him in the summers and the springtime. But I think I fight for the importance of any community that is not being properly accredited - just period - of anything. This statement is going to sound kinda gay but I’m gonna say it. I love older white men, but basically if you’re not an older white man, you don’t run shit. It’s always gonna be more of a fight for anyone that isn’t an older white man. Period. So I like to speak on behalf of people without a voice and sometimes that could be a creative, sometimes that could be a woman, sometimes that could be a man turned into a woman. My dad five years ago would live in a homeless shelter to counsel with ex-drug addicts and, you know, he really cares about people. It’s like as soon as he moved to where he is now, he was like, 'How can we improve the water here? How can we improve the education system? I just met this girl. She’s in this situation with her family. This and that. What can we do to improve this?' That’s all he cared about. It’s caring about people. So there’s something where it’s like I live my life, I get to be a rockstar, a rapper, this, that, and then at a certain point, it’s at that moment where you just look and you see people dying and being on top of their roof and you just look at the camera and say George Bush doesn’t care about… and that’s like my dad and that’s my mum. I’ll go to a football game and I’ll be looking at the game and I’ll watch the score and I look at the human score meaning like the 50,000 people there and I start to zone in and think like where did this person come from? What did they go through? What type of job have they got? What brought us all here today? What are their interests? It’s like sometimes that part of my dad comes out of me that starts to get really intrigued with who people are. So even when I design, I am going to make the Apple of clothing. I don’t think there’s a purpose of saying you want to do it because it’s obvious I want to… But want is like this politically correct way to word your future accomplishments. This one guy was super snobby with me at a fashion dinner, of course. And I explained to him that there was a time when people said I couldn’t rap and he asked me, ‘Oh, so is this what you hope to do in clothing?’ I was like I don’t hope. I execute. As far as apparel goes, I will make the Apple of apparel and the Apple of apparel isn’t high street. It isn’t fast fashion. It isn’t a $9000 sweatshirt. It’s the thing you want to keep for the rest of your life. Just looking at human beings, sometimes you present things, people don’t even know that they want it yet. I could show you two photographs. I’ll show you a really well-known designer that’s highly respected blah blah blah that I pulled as a reference to proportion because they had this silk jacket. It almost looked like a lining fabric. If I describe it too well, they’ll know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to say the person’s name but it had like denim on denim and like a sock on a shoe and different things like that. It was after I did my sock shoe. And I had a photo I had just done and the guy had an olive jacket on, cotton on cotton, self-lined, a tank top… The colour, I probably couldn’t even describe it, almost an orange but really subtle, and the shorts are like some beautiful light brown with a bit of grey in it and the guy was black that the clothes were on. And everyone who I showed those two images together, now, the one image, you even know who the designer is and it’s top five designers in the game and you see this image right here. And I’m like which one? And people always pick this one because of the colours and people don’t even understand how important colour is as an opinion in clothing. Give a fuck if I got any of the cuts right on the last collection. Anyone who doesn’t say ‘I had an emotional connection to the colour palette’, they don’t even know how to see anymore. They don’t even know what they’re looking at. They see clothes and they’re looking at numbers. They’re not feeling emotion. They’re thinking about trend. They’re not seeing future. They’re not seeing luxury. They’re not seeing time like oh shit, I wanna go to the park with my family. I’ll just throw this on. That’s what I want to do: is present something that gives people some of their time back because it works together like Lego and you just throw it on. And I’m not saying that I mastered it by season 2 for Christ’s sake. I didn’t hit ‘Watch the Throne’ and ‘Dark Fantasy’ on my second mixtape. But the theory is there and only I can do it. Only I care about it that much. Only I have the exact 2 and 3 code in my head. I could say it out loud. I could say oh this army surplus but look at how far we jumped from army surplus in the second season. So just think about where we’ll be by season 3. Look at how far we jumped. Cause I have the code in my head. You have to cut open my head and take my brain and put it on top of some big organisation and you can’t. It’s like completely, you know, that sweatshirt, that T-shirt decision I’m making is a piece of my mum having me at Operation Push at age five, it’s a piece of my dad going to the homeless shelter, it’s a piece of my grandfather having a store where he fixed furniture in the back, it’s a piece of my cousin bootlegging cross colours out in LA, it’s a piece of my Aunt that was the chicest woman that I knew. Even when she had Alzheimers, she would dress better than the entire family and I remember the colours and they remind me of the colours that we were able to find. We were able to start to find and penetrate this concept by the second season without being held back by the fabrics that were available, to do all-black and only have a navy blah blah blah. I don’t use blue. It bugs me out.
- Q. Tell me about the colour blue. Kim Jones, director of menswear at Louis Vuitton
Yeah, I hate the colour blue. On this collection, Katherine Hamnett was emailing me about how I had to have blue jeans and how I’d need to have a white shirt and this and that about… I was like I guess I could see how I would need that but like I said, I like to make it harder for myself by just doing what I want to do.
- Q. You say you like to make things hard for yourself and you’re so driven and you’re so passionate. You’re obviously ambitious. Are you happy? Lou Stoppard
So so so so happy. And I’m happy for the normal reasons to be happy because I married the woman of my dreams and I have a beautiful daughter and so many beautiful people around me and my cousins and families in different states - there’s so many loving people. I have a son on the way. I have a lot of life ahead of me and I have the opportunity to be completely rogue and to be able to support myself being who I am exactly and now I’ve even opened up a whole new place to create by being able to do apparel and then going in and doing film and being able to take those horses that at one point were pulling in all these different directions and pulling my arms out of my sockets and re-aim them in one direction and have the most powerful four horses running towards you; that tsunami about to hit, that earthquake about to come in. Some people might not see it and for the people who don’t see it and don’t understand what’s about to happen, you know, certain people are visionaries, certain people are early adopters, certain people are just followers. So I take it that the most negative reaction is from the followers.