He may have made his name as a self-professed College Dropout, but now Kanye West is delivering lectures at one of the world’s most elite schools. West spoke to a packed theater hall in a guest appearance at Oxford University today as a guest of the Oxford Guild Society at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Ahead of the event, the Guild’s chairman Abbas Kazmi had words of high praise for Mr. West and those who worked to bring the Chicago MC to Oxford:
“It is great to see the hard work pay off after having spent many hours negotiating against the odds and keeping things under wraps to secure this event which is a real coup for the Guild which I am proud to see continuing to grow from strength to strength, reaching even higher heights and winning ever more national awards and accolades. Special thanks must to go the committee for their efforts, enthusiasm and commitment. The Guild is very keen to ensure that all Oxford students are given a chance to hear from Kanye West and will be uploading a full video of the talk after the event.”
After a Georgia State professor made Kanye’s work the subject of a poetics course earlier this year, the academic tables seem to have come full circle for ‘Ye. West’s school session has reportedly already finished, and a number of tweets bearing what appear to be direct quotes from lecture have already been posted for the world to see. West reportedly spoke at length about his 2010 opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the artistic power of Nicki Minaj, our need for affordable fashion and so much more.
UPDATE: Read the full text of Kanye’s speech below.
I’ll take one question. I wanted to vibe off an idea, and then I can riff off of that…they said I’ve got 20 minutes or so, I might go longer.
“OK, everyone please be completely quiet, because I can literally hear a whisper, and it’ll throw off my stream of consciousness, and when I get my stream of consciousness going that’s when I give the best, illest quotes. Literally, a whisper can throw it off.
“Today was the first time I realised, If I could have done it again I would have gone to the Art Institute over the American Academy of Art, I would have researched where I could have got the best and the strongest education.
“And I’m sure this will end up online, so I don’t want to diss anyone at the American Academy, I’m sure it’s equal to the Art Institute of Chicago by now, but at the time I was going I would look around at the work of the class and not feel inspired by the teachers, and I kinda, the idea of being a fine artist, that’s a really difficult profession to get into, to be respected in, to make money at. Maybe the goal for some of the people was just to work at an advertising agency or at a record label.
“My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater.
“That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone in the past that has done so much, and in your life you’re not even allowed to think that you can do as much. That’s a mentality that suppresses humanity.
“Some of you here probably remember the night when the Donda tweets came through me and I started talking about professions that you guys are going into, that seemed they had nothing to do with a rapper. I was talking about a band of thinkers that could remove religion, race, gender, and somehow come together to find solutions for a broken planet.
“We have the resources as a civilisation to find a utopia, but we’re led by the most greedy and the least noble.
“What I notice about creatives is that, and one of the reasons why I get into trouble, is, not only do I want to design video games, or make music, or ride bikes, I think one of the most important things to my ability to create so much in the past 30 years is my desire to play sports. I approach creativity like a sport, where if I have a drawing I react just like a jock: LOOK AT THE FUCKING DRAWING RIGHT THERE YEAH!
“We’re all creatives here, we’re all born artists. Some people are artists of business, some people are artists of composition.
“We were taught to hide our black fingernail polish and put our head down in the back of the class and not notice out of fear that someone might laugh at one of our ideas – that our idea could become a mockery or a failure in some way.
“There’s a Bible saying, ‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper’. Recently I’ve been doing interviews and I’ve had to go back to this verse because I don’t think there’s a living celebrity with more weapons formed against them, but I also don’t think there’s one more prosperous. So what weapons have prospered? The smoke and mirrors of other opinions.
“I was sitting with Steve McQueen, he shot the visuals for All Day 2 days ago, it’s completely different to the Brit awards.
“So it doesn’t get taken out of context, I’m going to use the word ‘like’. I’m not saying it is, I’m using it as a comparison. So people that want to say ‘Kanye goes to Oxford and tells everyone blah blah blah’. And I’m not telling you this. I’m telling you what I told Steve McQueen in private.
“What I said was The Matrix is like the Bible of the post-information age.
“I compared it like, when the hundred guys come at Neo, those are opinions, that’s perception, that’s tradition. 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 literally can put the world in slow motion.
“It’s still February, right? (security guard shakes his head, everyone laughs).
“By the way, I don’t know the days of the week. I just go to exactly when my appointment is.
“We’d just look at each other and say, it’s still February. For the sheer mount of work that we were able to put into the world. Some of the stuff had been worked on for years coming, months coming. But nonetheless they came back to back to back to back. Answering every crazy interview question, blocking every shot, catching every rebound. Aside from the right I don’t have to give my opinion publicly about artists, I probably would have been batting 2000. I know that’s incorrect also.
“This humanity that I talk about, this civilisation that I talk about, this future utopia I talk about…it can only happen through collaboration.
“I love Steve Jobs, he’s my favourite person, but there’s one thing that disappoints me. When Steve passed he didn’t give the ideas up. That’s kinda selfish. You know that Elon’s like ‘yeah, take these ideas’. Maybe there are companies outside of Apple that could work on them and push humanity forward. Maybe the stock brokers won’t like that, the stock holders wouldn’t like that idea, but ideas are free and you can’t be selfish with them.
“I think that progression of mind with the advent of a human being named Drake (laughs, smirks, crowd laughs) you know, this idea of holding onto a number 1 spot. And then you get this guy that comes and blows out the water every number 1 of any band ever. Be it me, or Paul McCartney [laughs].
“I understand that I’m a servant. And with my voice, with my ability to build relationships with amazing people, speak to amazing people. Call Elon Musk out of the blue, or call Obama out of the blue…he calls the home phone, by the way.
“With that, I have a responsibility to serve. Why do I say the Matrix is like the Bible? What is my definition of the Matrix? [he never answered this].
“I work with an artist called Vanessa Beecroft, and she bought my daughter some toys.
“I’d see toys that some people would buy for my daughter and I’d say this toy isn’t quality. I don’t want my daughter playing with this. There’s not enough love put into this, this is just manufactured with the will to sell, and not the will of inspiration.
“Vanessa is very focused, she’s like my eyes, she’s a piece of my brain. She bought my daughter these three wolves, knowing the whole collection, that it’d play with the song Wolves, and based on this concept. And when my daughter saw these wolves, I’ve never seen her so happy. She was going so crazy, she was grabbing one, she was riding on top of one…I’ve never seen her happier than this moment. That level of happiness seems to be the thing that we’re fighting for every day, that we’re trying to buy back, trying to work for, especially in America.
“In America people really do wear $3000 shirts. For real. Here and in Stockholm people will be like ‘oh dude, it’s a $3000 shirt’.
“I’m assuming I’m probably wearing a $2000 shirt but I got it for free from the designer so.
“We’ve been sold a concept of joy through advertising, through car advertising, through fashion branding. It’s not the concept of time, time with your family, time with your friends, the little time that we do have on earth and what we do with that. It was somehow sold to us through a Gucci bag or something.
“Time is the only luxury. It’s the only thing you can’t get back. If you lose your luggage – I’m not gonna say the obvious brand of luggage that I’d normally say because I’ve got a meeting with them soon – if you lose your expensive luggage at the airport, you can get that back. You can’t get the time back.
“It feels like people do everything in life to get this BMW, this Benz, to get this townhome, to get 2.5 kids exactly. One of them has to be small, y’know!
“And you’re looking for this moment where you sit in your BMW after all the work you’ve done and all the accolades you get, and you somehow think you’re gonna get that level of joy that my daughter had when she received those wolves. And when you’re sitting in traffic in your BMW, it’s something that feels empty. To everyone who reaches that point. This concept of the selfish human, this idea of separation by race, or gender, or religion, or age, or my favourite thing to hate, class.
“People say it takes a village to raise a child. People ask me how my daughter is doing. She’s only doing good if your daughter’s doing good. We’re all one family.