the genius of yeezy
Watch the Throne was the beginning of my love affair with rap.
Late to the game, I sadly missed the East vs West days of the 90s.
But what an introduction – listening to the two most influential rappers of our age
collaborate on one of the most politically and musically important records of all time.
Listened to over and over again while driving my little brother to high school in an old Volvo.
We couldn’t have been in a more cookie-cutter white suburbia or more desperate to not be.
We contemplated race, wealth, politics, education, what it meant to be cool,
and what it meant to be American at 7:30 in the morning.
It changed my perspective on music and much, much more.
“Name one genius who ain’t crazy.” – Kanye West
A lot of people love to hate Kanye. And Taylor Swift. And Hillary Clinton. And Steve Jobs. And a lot of other big-time cultural icons, change-makers, visionaries. They will tear their chosen object of hate apart no matter what. Why? Jealousy? Boredom? Narrow standards on what a complete stranger should or should not be? But the sign of a truly great figure is often their divisive effect. #LuvUrH8rz
Genius is certainly a lofty term. Can Kanye really call himself that?
IQ-wise, who knows. Confidence-wise, he outshines them all.
And in his book, and mine, that’s all that seems to matter. Sureness of self. How can you achieve anything if you don’t have the gusto to put yourself out there in the first place?
Never one to shy away from political and socioeconomic commentary, Kanye has offered poignant thoughts on everything from the public education system (in The College Dropout and Late Registration) to the American black experience. Through his discography, you can hear the progression of his encounters with racism and his frustrated realization that it doesn’t go away once you’ve reached the top – epitomized in the Watch The Throne album and the song “New Slaves” from Yeezus.
"Drug dealin’ just to get by
Stackin’ money till it gets sky high /
Wasn’t supposed to make it past 25
Joke’s on you, we still alive /
Throw your hands up in the sky and say
We don’t care what people say"
- Kanye's debut
We Don't Care
The College Dropout
And now, the clothes.
People have loved hating on these clothes. The difference between this ready to wear collection and others is that because of Kanye’s star power, the Yeezy brand is scrutinized by every random person in America. Rather than by the few fashion fanatics who follow other, less buzz-worthy shows.
Fashion is art. It's about experimentation, pushing the boundaries, forecasting the trends of the future. Creating a future that you want to see, even. Show any random American some of Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli, or Jean Paul Gaultier’s extremely avant-garde shows, and they’ll think, “that stuff is crazy. unwearable. impossibly expensive.” But these designers are considered geniuses by the fashion world. Coco Chanel’s mannish looks were considered revolutionary and even scandalous in her time. Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent was, at first, criticized when he created the grunge glam look that quickly became widely accepted by America’s rebellious youth.
These are the true fashion innovators. Not a bunch of stuffy, white-bread fashion critics. The daring, the rebellious, the young at heart. Willing to experiment. Looking to express their sexuality, athleticism, artistic nature, or simply to wear something new and different. And these are the people who love Yeezy.
And don't even get me started on how Star Wars-inspired these collections are. May the Yeezy be with you.
When it comes down to it, whether you like it or not, you’re talking about that. And isn’t that all Kanye wants? Seems pretty genius to me ;)
Yeezy-inspired looks: Helmut Lang cowl sweatshirt, Gucci men’s boots, thrifted green flannel, thrifted camel turtleneck, old H&M ripped jeans, Kanye’s 808s Hollywood Bowl show shirt (s/o to Jacob Foster for that one), old PINK sports bra, old Anthropologie anorak.
ALL PHOTOS BY STAY FIERCE PHOTOGRAPHY