Kanye West set down for a four-part interview with BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe and opened up on what it's like to be a god. And having achieved godlike status, what West wants most is to be a designer.
"I have reached the glass ceiling," West says. "As a creative person, as a celebrity. When I say that, it means, I want to do product, I am a product person. Not just clothing, but water bottle design, architecture, everything, you know, that you could think about." (Part 1 of 4 video clips is embedded above; audio of the entire interview—which is very much worth your time—is available below.)
Architecture is a subject that comes up again and again in West's interviews lately, whether it's the Le Corbusier lamp that he says inspired his latest album, Yeezus, or the pyramid-shaped screen designed by OMA for a film West produced for Cannes. But in his interview with the BBC, he doesn't just compare his work to architecture, he declares that he needs to be doing architecture.
"If you're an architect, if you're a world builder, if you have all these ideas—if you're Gaudí, and you want to build buildings—and you don't ever get that out, what's going to happen?" West asks. "As a creative, for you to have done something at the level of the Yeezus, and not be able to create more" is a source of perpetual frustration for West, he says. Note that at 36, he's accomplished a fair deal already.
"This is the reason why I'm working with five architects at a time," West says. Fair enough—but which five architects? Here's a list of five that he is or should be working with to get to the "zenned-out place" where he's succeeding with his design collaborations.
1. David Benjamin
This one's easy, because Kanye West is hanging out with David Benjamin. The director of the Living Lab at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Benjamin has played drums in Los Angeles before he started studying architecture at Columbia in 2002. He has since designed a pop-up stadium for Nike—with whom West collaborated on the Air Yeezy—and continues to work on the Advanced Data Visualization Project with Thomson Reuters. If there's an architect who's interested in more diverse fields than Kanye West, it's David Benjamin.
2. Zaha Hadid
People tend to refer to both Zaha and Kanye by their first names, so there's that. There's also the shoes. "Shoes," West says in the interview. "You put on shoes every day. You walking down the street with no shoes? Somebody might think there's something wrong with you."
Hadid's collaboration with United Nude Studio looks like the kind of thing West is desperate to accomplish. When West talks about "new slaves," he says in the interview, he's talking in part about people who are addicted to fashion—so he and Hadid have that in common. And her work? That's got to appeal to West's idea of minimalism.
3. David Adjaye
Kanye West wants nothing less than to be remembered as one of the greatest people of all time. He doesn't hesitate to sample Nina Simone's version of "Strange Fruit," one of the most important songs of the century. (He also calls himself a god, so there's that.) "We culture," West says. "Rap the new rock and roll. We culture. Rap is the new rock and roll. We the rock stars." He's not going to stand for a National Museum of African American History and Culture (designed by David Adjaye) that doesn't include him, right?
4. Jeanne Gang
Yeah / And you say Chi City / Chi City, Chi City / I'm comin' home again / Do you think about me now and then? / Do you think about me now and then? —Kanye West, "Homecoming"
5. Frank Gehry
Because, let's face it, Kanye West is not going to be satisfied until he is the biggest brand in the world.
Listen to the full interview here: