Kanye West Talks Apple/Beats Deal, Aesthetic Importance At Cannes Tech Conference
After making his triumphant return to Bonnaroo, Kanye West did a very Kanye West thing: He jumped on a plane to France and made a surprise appearance at the Cannes Lion Festival, speaking on a panel called “Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape.” As with anytime Kanye discusses technology, the shadow of Steve Jobs loomed. Speaking to the audience, Kanye called Jobs his “biggest influence” and talked about how Jobs inspired him to “help raise the palette and raise the taste level of a generation and also be involved with the production and distribution and advertising of that thing everyone’s begging for.” And the discussion about those goals led to some interesting places.
As AdWeek reports, Kanye talked about how he spent time on his honeymoon, working “for like four days” on getting the flowers behind him and Kim Kardashian to look exactly right: “This is pissing my girl off during the honeymoon. Annie Leibovitz pulled out right before the wedding — maybe she was scared about the idea of celebrity… But I still wanted my wedding photos to look like Annie Leibovitz. Now, can you imagine telling someone who just wants to Instagram a photo, the number-one person on Instagram, that we need to work on the color of the flowered wall? But the fact that the number-one most liked photo has this certain aesthetic on it was a win for what the mission is — of raising the palette.”
He also offered this flawless explanation of Kanye Logic, perhaps the briefest description we’ve ever heard of his general worldview: “When people think celebrity, which is the highest form of communication — we’re like walking networks or TV shows or brands in ourselves — you don’t think good taste. And I believe that bad taste is vulgar. It’s like cursing. I think the world can be saved through design. Because what is the most distasteful thing someone can do? Kill someone. So, good taste is the opposite of that.”
But perhaps the most poignant moment of the panel came when he discussed Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats, a deal that Kanye believes never would’ve happened if Samsung hadn’t made the deal with Jay Z to distribute his Magna Carta Holy Grail album. In talking about those two deals, Kanye took some shots at Samsung and may have sent a subliminal Jay’s way: “There would have been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal. It showed the number one company the importance of connecting with culture. The reason I said I didn’t like Samsung particularly is because throughout my entire life, because of how my parents raised me, I have to work with the number one. I can’t work with anyone but Jay Z because he’s number one. I can’t be with any girl but Kim because that’s the girl whose pictures I look at the most and get turned on by. I’m not going to represent any company but Louis Vuitton, because that’s number one. Samsung is not quite Apple, but it showed that Jimmy [Iovine] and Dre would be able to connect with the No. 1 influencers.” I like how Kanye just threw his marriage into the middle of that, like it’s just another part of his empire.
UPDATE: Watch the whole thing below.