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ARTICLE ELLIOTT DAVID

PHOTOGRAPHY KARL LAGERFELD

STYLIST JACOB K

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

FROM V TO ALLAN'S ALLEY

KIRIN J CALLINAN

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EXTRA CREDITS

Grooming Seb Bascle (ArtList)  Hair Ibn Jasper  Manicure Anny Errandonea (Marie France Thavonekham)  Photo assistants Olivier Saillant, Frederic David, Bernward Sollich, Xavier Arias  Stylist assistants Ellie Campagna and Clemence Lobert  Wardrobe assistant Lauren Matos (Pastelle)  Grooming assistant Marielle Loubet  Creative consultant Virgil Abloh (Pastelle)   Catering Artistic World Food  Special thanks Bita Khorrami (Pastelle)

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SWEETEST TALK - SASHA KEABLE MATTHEW NO FEAR BEST VIDEOS: GRIMES BEST VIDEOS OF 2012: BIGBANG

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PHOTOGRAPHY KARL LAGERFELD
FASHION Jacob K
TEXT Elliott David

KANYE WEST REGAINED THE POP MUSIC THRONE WITH HIS FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM, MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY, WHICH IS BEING RIGHTLY REVERED AS A FLAWLESS MASTERPIECE. NOW, HE PUTS HIS MONEY WHERE HIS MOUTH IS AND LETS HIS ART SPEAK FOR HIMSELF

“His strength is mixing music and fashion. He has an instant instinct for what looks and sounds good. He makes everything new and different.”
 – Karl Lagerfeld

You don’t know shit about Kanye West. Yes, the man obviously needs no introduction. Nor need he say anything to anyone. At least not for a while. He doesn’t owe you or me or any of us any explanation: for his fluctuating and avant-garde style; his mercurial and, well, avant-garde behavior; his gorgeous film, Runaway; his fashion endeavors; or his flawless album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But believe me when I say that though you probably know it all, you don’t know anything. You have no idea who he is, and whatever you might believe is spectacularly untrue. Even the facts. Or the fall-out. Or the fantasy. Don’t believe any of it. Not because it’s false—some of it is, some isn’t. But identity is a fragile, volatile beast. Who we think we are is composed of countless particles of action: conscious choice, arduous work, impulsive decisions, the stories we rehearse and the sentences we speak the second we think them—the fabricated and the organic, the reflexive and the deliberate. 

For someone like Kanye, whose every move is documented and televised and forwarded and re-tweeted and whatever, there’s a war between the existentialist identity felt by the artist and the one imposed upon him by the people, the armies of talk and the obedient listeners, the digital masses and the Internet babies all growed up. The collective perspective of millions of people can be the greatest enemy of an artist, particularly in that ultimately, no matter what the media machine manufactures, the manifestation of who he is is completely the artist’s own—for lack of a better term—liability. All his tiny decisions and actions chaotically bounce off one another, creating the notion of a whole, which isn’t viewed through a microscope as is assumed, but an aggregate zoomed-out lens, and all we want to focus on are the mistakes: the bright flare, the fracture from cracks—all the accidental beauty of error outshines the image itself.

But there’s one quantifier that can be held in high regard: risk. How deep of a chance on the unknown one is willing to take, how hard a gamble on our intuition, our taste, how devout one’s faith in themselves. Who you are might equate what of yourself you’re willing to put out there. Risk it all, and there you are. And there’s perhaps no greater risk taker in pop culture than Kanye West.

And there’s no denying the fact that Kanye West has made some mistakes. Not so much artistically as publically. There was a time when we couldn’t get him to stop talking. He certainly owns (up to) some responsibility for distracting us from his art. He’d step on stages that weren’t his. He’d grab a mic out of someone’s hand. He condemned a villain when he had the world’s attention. And everyone assumed that’s exactly what he wanted: attention. And there’s likely truth to that. But why that’s a bad thing I can’t figure out, as we’ve certainly collectively decided that Ye’s someone who deserves it. And rightly so. He’s ferociously opinionated and unafraid to speak his raw mind, unwilling to choreograph his ideals for the media’s theater. His total lack of filter suggests something like purity, even when what he’s spitting is at best venomous. At this point, anything that comes out of his mouth will be skewed and spun just as much as it will be presented verbatim in a clear, legit context. And that’s a dangerous place to be.

Because contemporary celebrity culture is such that we tend too initially and desperately to push aside the content an artist produces in attempts to gain shallow insight on the individual, to put our mouths and ears up against the clamor of scandal and reverberation of rumor, the gossip and controversy and hearsay that surround anyone we put in our carnivorous limelight, wishing our spotlights were x-rays, always wanting more than enough. To the point that we willingly invent things to satisfy this need, happily supplanting fact with fiction. In doing so, we clear away the true access to the identity of an artist, or at least the purpose they (should) serve an audience: their work. Instead, we sever this connection in effigy, happily supplanting it with some illusion that faster satisfies our rabid inattentiveness and romantic notion of fame. But this whole “death of the artist” dialogue has been around for ages: from self-destroyed painters to anti-Semitic poets to wife-beating actors to suicide authors, from philanthropists to martyrs to madmen. Do we just love to see our heroes fall? If that’s the case, don’t hold your breath on this one. Kanye West isn’t going anywhere. His presence is indestructible because his talent is undeniable. He’ll be here as long as he let’s us have him. And he’s finally realized this.

We’re sitting in a completely empty restaurant in Paris. Dave Cheung opens his eponymous eatery well after closing to satisfy our Chinese craving. We just left Karl Lagerfeld’s studio after a long shoot. Four of us. Me, Ye, and two of his closest. He says to me: “I don’t want to do an interview.” And I say I think that’s a fine idea. Besides, what’s left to say? What would you (the reader) even want to hear? We’ve talked about it all: music, money, art, love, loss, fashion, fucking, everything you’ve ever heard about, and lots of shit you haven’t. “I want to let the music speak for itself,” he says. And I couldn’t agree more. Everything you could possibly want to know about Kanye is right there on the record. There is no truer portrayal of him than the lyrics to Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s his poetry, his art. To focus on anything but that would be a sad insult and a pointless redundancy. But to work with Kanye and create something out of those lyrics, a concrete poem, a piece of art, is more emblematic than any quote could ever be. These are his words. This is a portrait of the artist as a man. 

YOU'RE MY DEVIL
Is hip-hop just a euphemism for a new religion? The soul music of the slaves that the youth is missing? But this is more than just my road to redemption, Malcom West has the whole nation standing at attention. As long as I’m in Polo smiling they think they got me. But they’d try to crack me if they ever see a black me. I thought I chose a field where they couldn’t sack me. If a nigga ain’t shooting the jump shot or running a track meet. But this pimp is at the top of Mt. Olympus. Ready for the world’s games, this is my Olympics. We make em’ say oh cause the game’s so pimpish. Choke a South Park writer with a fish stick. I insisted to get up off of this dick. And these drugs, niggas can’t resist it. Remind me when they try to have Ali enlisted. If I ever wasn’t the greatest, nigga I must have missed it. You short-minded niggas’ thoughts is Napoleon, My furs is Mongolian, my ice brought the goalies in.

YOU'RE MY ANGEL
Now I embody every characteristic of the egotistic. He know he so fuckin’ gifted. I just needed time alone with my own thoughts. Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault. My childlike creativity, purity, and honesty Is honestly being prodded by these grown thoughts. Reality is catching up with me, Taking my inner child, I’m fighting for it, custody. With these responsibilities that they entrusted me, As I look down at my diamond-encrusted piece. Never in your wildest dreams. Never in your wildest dreams, in your wildest. You can hear the loudest screams Coming from the inside the screen, you a wild bitch. Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy, Said her price go down if she ever fucked a black guy. Or do anal. or do a gangbang. It’s kind of crazy that’s all considered the same thing. Well I guess a lot of niggas do gangbang. And if we run trains we all in the same gang. Runaway

YOU'RE MY HEAVEN
slaves all on the chain gang. Bang. bang. bang. bang. bang. Look like a fat booty Celine Dion. Sex is on fire I’m the king of Leona Lewis, beyond the truest. Hey teacher teacher tell me how do you respond to students, And refresh the page and restart the memory, Re-spark the soul and rebuild the energy? We stop the ignorance, we kill the enemies. Sorry for the night demons that still visit me. The plan was to drink until the pain over. But what’s worse: the pain or the hangover? Fresh air rollin’ down the window, Too many Urkels on your team that’s why your wins low. Don’t make me pull the toys out. Don’t make me pull the toys. And fire up the engines. And then they make noise. When the sun go down it’s the magic hour, The magic hour. And outta all the colors that are still up in the skies, You got green on your mind, I can see it in your eyes. Why you standing there with your face screwed up?

YOU'RE MY HELL

YOU'RE MY NOW

Don’t leave while you’re hot that’s how Mase screwed up. Throwing shit around, the whole place screwed up. Maybe I should call Mase so he could pray for us. I hit the Jamaican spot at the bar, take a seat. I ordered the jerk, she said, “you are what you eat.” You see I always loved your sense of humor, But tonight you should have seen how quiet the room was. The Lyor Cohen of Dior Homme. That’s Dior Homme not Dior, homie. The crib Scarface couldn’t be more Tony. You love me for me, could you be more phony? Now, I’ma need you to kill the hypocrisy, This is an aristocracy. I’m Socrates, but my skin more chocolatey. What’s up with who? That’s old news. I’m in a speedboat, in my boat shoes. I swear my whole collection’s so cool. I might walk in Nobu with no shoes. He just walked in Nobu like it was Whole Foods. That nigga crazy, I told you. Immature adult (uh huh), insecure asshole (what else?).

YOU'RE MY FOREVER
And if you fall on the concrete, that’s yo ass fault. If you pass on a Kon beat, that’s yo last fault. Get what you ask for, I swear that’s yo ass, so. She got a big booty, but she couldn’t drop that ass low. ‘Til you take yo last ho and rope up all the cash flow. When you gettin’ money they be all up on yo ass, yo. When you gettin’ money Kons don’t let a nigga pass go. Straight to jail, yo. in a hell hole. Right next to Lucifer, tell ‘em I say hello. Ask him if I’ma be there soon and tell ‘em I said, “Hell, no!” Yo, what you say when your people get out of jail, huh? Pour the champagne, let your watch show. Shorty got a man watch, wrist look colossal. I admit my first watch was a Fossil, Now I’m in the Louvre looking for fossils. Attention to detail is so uncanny, And the whip’s on the Sprewells, it’s so un-Camry. Somebody need to put us on camera, The world of Rollies and everyone families. Stay Jordan fresh, suits

YOU'RE MY FREEDOM
and Ferraris. Cute, your shorty watch Barneys, we head to barney’s. End up at marni, GiorgiO, and service from Sergio Tacchini, Lamborghini. the chain throw off the vertigo. I know the flow just hit a hellafied vertical. This the Christ year, last year was magic, thirty-two. Lyrically can’t none of y’all murder Ye, ‘Cause y’all raps ain’t got no vertebrae. I got style, ask junya, he heard of me. I killed the fur last Paris, raised the murder rate. First of all, we all know the beats is, Like a mix between Fergie and Jesus. Imagine the direction of this immaculate conception. Every one of His Majesty’s swim parties is pageantries. Cannonball off the diving board when I am bored. All my homies GDs, but I am lord. Rap god, Greek mythology, And this life too crazy to think logically. Here’s something that you could use in analogy: My life is like a child’s: illusions become reality.

YOU'RE MY JAIL

EXTRA CREDITS

Grooming Seb Bascle (ArtList)  Hair Ibn Jasper  Manicure Anny Errandonea (Marie France Thavonekham)  Photo assistants Olivier Saillant, Frederic David, Bernward Sollich, Xavier Arias  Stylist assistants Ellie Campagna and Clemence Lobert  Wardrobe assistant Lauren Matos (Pastelle)  Grooming assistant Marielle Loubet  Creative consultant Virgil Abloh (Pastelle)   Catering Artistic World Food  Special thanks Bita Khorrami (Pastelle)

MORE TO LOVE

SWEETEST TALK - SASHA KEABLE MATTHEW NO FEAR BEST VIDEOS: GRIMES BEST VIDEOS OF 2012: BIGBANG
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