Kanye West doesn’t give too many interviews, and when he does they usually feel out-of-date as soon as they drop. He’s the subject of an extensive new feature in The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ. Magazine, and it seems like journalist Christina Binkley got to spend a good deal of time with him over the last few months. But it only barely touches on the coronavirus pandemic — West is now apparently holed-up with his family at his home in Hidden Hills, outside Calabasas — and it doesn’t touch at all on the unlikely resurgence of his beef with Taylor Swift, probably for the best.
Instead, a lot of it is about the lead-up to his most recent Yeezy show, which took place during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month. It focuses on the design and manufacturing process for his apparel and his attempt to turn his ranch in Wyoming into a laboratory for his half-formed ideas. West is still good for his fair share of what-the-fuck details.
A thread throughout the whole profile is West’s idea for the perfect hoodie. The saga starts with him picturing a hoodie being sold for $60 or so in mass-market retailers. “I like Costco as an idea,” he said. “I like Walmart, too.” His attentions shifted as he put together the music video for “Follow God,” in which he wears a prototype of said perfect hoodie and a puffer vest. He zeroed in on the vest to launch his newest line of clothing. (“You can’t take three years off and then come out with a hoodie,” he apparently said to one of his associates.) But the most recent dispatch from West has him thinking about the hoodie once again, but maybe not at the mass-market level. “The hoodie is arguably the most important piece of apparel of the last decade,” he argued.
He talks a lot about the grand vision for his Yeezy company. “I believe that Yeezy is the McDonald’s and the Apple of apparel,” West said. “In order to make the Apple of apparel the next Gap, it has to be a new invention. To invent something that’s so good that you don’t even get credit for it because it’s the norm.”
When the writer mentions that West sounds ambitious, he responded: “I do not like the word ambitious. I’m Kanye West. The word ambitious is beneath my abilities,” he said. “I’m just a doer. You can see in my eyes there’s not one bit of fear.”
He’s been working on manufacturing the hoodie and all of his clothing with disgraced American Apparel founder Dov Charney, who was removed from his chief executive position at the company in 2014 after sexual harassment and financial misconduct allegations. West is working with his new company Los Angeles apparel on new Yeezy materials and the uniforms used for his Sunday Service performance series.
West has worked on a lot of designs and ideas out on his Wyoming ranch. His design studio was based out of there for a while, but they are now apparently back in LA. He is working on an affordable housing project in the state because California wouldn’t give him the necessary permits. Part of this includes a mockup for a series of seven dome-shaped rooms that is meant to be self-sustaining. Features include a “urine garden,” which is meant to turn human waste into plant food, and a “hydrogen pulse detonation pump” as a shower.
He believes he will find support in the government to get whatever permits are necessary to explore his ideas further. West recounts the time last year when he facilitated the extradition of A$AP Rocky from a Swedish jail. He says that he called Jared Kushner at the White House from his Calabasas swimming pool and Donald Trump called him back an hour later. He also talked about the outrage surrounding his embrace of Trump and also mentions that he is not registered to vote and doesn’t follow politics.
“I’m a black guy with a red [MAGA] hat, can you imagine?” he told The Wall Street Journal. “It reminded me of how I felt as a black guy before I was famous, when I would walk in a restaurant and people would look at you like you were going to steal something. ‘This is your place, Ye, don’t talk about apparel. This is your place, Ye, you’re black, so you’re a Democrat.’”
“Everything is about putting people in their place. Classism, protectionism—not just racism,” he said. “Classism is like living on a bookshelf. The more money you have, the higher you go. And you get to the top and look over and what do you see? Fear.”
Throughout the profile, there’s some sporadic mentions of new music. West apparently planned to record an album in Mexico in the spring, though that will probably be hampered by the pandemic. The last time WSJ talked to him was over the phone in mid-March, and he had just returned from Cabo San Lucas, where he was working on music. For now, he’s hunkering down in Calabasas.
Read the full Wall Street Journal piece here.