Don’t Get Confused, ‘Bare’ With Kanye

Before all the click-bait BS starts to fuel the next Kanye hate campaign, we thought it was time to look to the past and present to break down exactly what is going on behind all that news of debt financing that’s got alot of people a little confused.

For a bit of context, we went back to compare his latest tweets with Kanye’s TV appearance on ‘Sway In the Morning’ which also went down in history as one Kanye’s most memorable ‘rants’ ever. Now given the latest Twitter stream of consciousness from Kanye, we needed to get a moment of clarity rather than just buy the media’s definition of ‘crazy’ by actually trying to look behind the words of the internets master manipulator.

Back in 2013, Sway and Kanye sat down straight off of the Yeezus tour giving one of the most insightful looks into the mind behind the ‘madness’. Sway’s respect and understanding of what makes Kanye great is also what makes him an inspiration, because he’s fearless and “we need that in Hip-Hop”, as Sway pointed out, we saw this in Pac, we also see it in Jay and we’re seeing it in Drake.

This industry of what I’m trying to get into, ain’t nobody never broke down, we all slaves

Sway’s intro breaks down the most important #Facts about Kanye – “The most important artist of this generation, over 21 Grammy’s, 6 consecutive No.1 albums, one of the most impactful voices to ever grab a microphone, one of the one of the most talented producers to ever produce music, fashion, art. One of the most prolific people to ever speak on behalf of his thoughts, to trigger emotions, and trigger thoughts off you, one of the most clever people to ever manipulate the internet!

Now if you haven’t already, it is required viewing to watch and listen to the interview below and if you have is worth reminding yourself in context of whats happening today – what Kanye said then. Now as reminder, don’t forget the reason of the famous ‘rant’ it came swiftly after Sway asked Why don’t you empower yourself, and don’t need them, & do it yourself?” and Kanye responded You ain’t got the answers Sway!” Shouts Ye. “You ain’t spent 13 million dollars of your own money trying to empower yourself!

What I Was Doing Was So Disruptive

So what are the reasons behind his rants? Is Tidal funding Kanye’s scripted content ideas, and since many people on Twitter have been asking what is ‘scripted content?’, go check the news about Dr Dre reportedly writing a ‘scripted series’ for Apple, it’s put the war for original content into greater context. Apple are reportedly making their first original television show with the Beats co-founder Dr. Dre called ‘Vital Signs’, and the production is being bankrolled by Apple. Given this new revelation, it is also likely that the series will be distributed by Apple Music, and possibly Apple TV, and then maybe even sold on the iTunes store. Recode also reported that Apple financed Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ video in a move to “to extend Apple Music.”

So why is this important point to make? Because this is a moment where the power is shifting globally with the race for control over content and creativity and it’s happening in full force. Tidal made these moves ahead of Apple and Spotify by investing in video content, live streaming and short-films like Pusha T‘s Kid Art-directed 22 minute short film King Push: Darkest Before Dawn. Shot on a $100K budget, the film was exclusively available to view only on Tidal as well as the The-Dream’s visual project which also appeared on Tidal. Prior to that concert live streaming kicked off with Jay-Z’s Tidal X concert, proceedings from which went towards the Black Lives Matter movement.

This Fabulous Life of Non-billionaires

You may or may not have caught on about a since deleted Tweet from one of Silicon Valleys biggest Venture CapitalistsMarc Andreessen, but suffice to say it created a shitstorm for Facebook. Why? Well he pretty much declared that new technologists were in essence the rightful colonists in India last week, but it’s also a significant moment that reveals the power play at hand. The Silicon Valley machine operates entirely from venture capitalist investment in start-up companies – many who are never profitable, many who fail and many with billion dollar valuations but who don’t have revenue to match.

Mark Andreessen

Why is this relevant? It goes back to when Kanye talked about his hero’s and influences but also made a pointed reference to not having access to funds or resources – “Hearing the way that music sounded and knowing that I didn’t really have enough money to buy the records that were needed to create a sound to the level of what the Beatnuts were creating and what Diamond D was creating. You go through that a lot of times in your life where, exactly what you wanna make you might not have the exact resources for it at the time.

At the time of his interview with Sway, Kanye revealed that he was 13 million in debt working on his clothing line, which has now apparently increased to 53 million in personal debt. No external investment is not a charity but a requirement in creative ventures. This is in stark contrast to Spotify’s Daniel Ek who has been able to secure from Venture capitalists a round of funding last year of $526 million from 13 partners and this year is aiming to secure a second found of funding of $500 million. Making that a grand total of access to $1 billion dollars of funding for Spotify – with no profit – ever! Daniel Ek is currently featured at no.10 in the new 100 Power list by Billboard.

Now why does this even matter? Since setting up the Creative Alliance as an activist group last year, the industry has been lobbying Spotify to pay artists fairly, once again at last nights Grammys, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and Common took the stage to make another stand against free tier music streaming asking “Isn’t a song worth more than a penny?” The fact is without context the understanding that the financing for music still requires artists to be paid is a relevant issue in our industry as Neil explained – “Listen, we all love the convenience, and we support technologies like streaming, which connect us to that music. But we also have to make sure that artists grow up in a world where music is a viable career.

So does a $1 billion dollar ask of investment into one of the most prolific creative genius’s in the world seem like such a big ask? Kanye is crowd-funding from billionaires right in front of you world!

What’s his business plan? Kanye West has repeatedly tried, tested and proved his hypothesis and shown he can shift the needle and the culture of music and fashion. “I’m trying to simplify and repeat, to the public, to everyone involved, that that is what they are doing to me now, because my demo tape is that Yeezus tour. So if you take that Yeezus tour and you meet with Disney or you meet with Zuckerberg or Eric Schmidt, don’t tell me I haven’t written out the right plan for it

So who is Eric Schmidt you ask? Eric is the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc (formerly named Google), in 2013, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 138th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $11 billion. How much is Mark Zuckerbergs worth?

Zuckerberg worth

Have you actually asked how much venture capital investment goes to diverse groups? TechCrunch although trying to put a positive spin on the slow change identified that ‘Venture funding for and by black people is similarly grim, with only 1.5 percent of funders and 1 percent of founders identifying as African-American.‘ Wired broke down ever grimer figures showing that just 0.2 percent of black female founders could raise money and ‘Of those few that have raised money, the average amount of funding its $36,000. That’s compared to the typical startup, typically founded by a white male, that typically fails. These manage to raise an average of $1.3 million in venture funding.’

Donda The Post-Internet Disney

So ya’ll now wondering why Kanye’s going on raging rants on Twitter now? How many of you have tried to raise funding for your venture yet? Well Kanye’s been breaking it down and opening up the real deal for all of us. To achieve an interdisciplinary approach to his creativity, he founded Donda as a creative company to embrace multiple projects. Kanye explained to Sway – “My demo is the Yeezus tour.” breaking it down even further “Pure creativity… The Yeezus tour is more of a film, or broadway or play idea, Watch the Throne is more of a Rap idea.”

Having ideas and bringing it into fruition does require patronage, and no thats not consumers, but actual investors in todays world. Its also a matter of  urgency in the age of innovation and Kanye has understood that better than anyone and earlier than many in the media would give him credit for – “I am the #1 most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney. Nike. Google… Do you want to marginalize me until I am out my moment?

When Sway asked “why do you need these people, why even invest in fashion?” Kanye’s response is relevant to the multi-billion dollar industry that revolves around fashion and Hip-Hop –  “The music and the clothing are just as important, that’s what make you hip-hop, you show people that you hip-hop by what you wear!

So Tidal may be trying to be the new benchmark, giving artists creative control over their content and value back with investment into their vision. But don’t get it confused, Jay-Z’s cash bank is not as giant as Apple’s or Google’s bank and those are some relevant #Facts.

It’s More Like Who Can They Control

When speaking of the fashion world, Kanye clarified “I say classist and centralist, it’s not racist.” Since then the MSG show has proved to be an unprecedented feat of creative force in fashion and music – not a botched spectacle as some media have been very quick to pass off.

We all slaves to something

Breaking down the industry not only in his music but also in the same conversation with Sway, Kanye explained his rant saying – “We all slaves, we all slaves, and ya’ll ain’t experience nothing right here but a moment from a movie ‘Glory’, back in the day when slaves had enough money they could buy their own freedom. We slaves to Nike, we slaves to Benz, we slaves to public perception.

Why does it matter, because selected power remains with the old guard and they are still running things – as Kanye told Sway – “At the end of the day Lucian Grainge still cut my music cheques, as powerful as my voice is, Lucian still runs 50% of the music industry. Francois Pinault owns Balenciaga, Puma, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney. Francois Arnault * owns Louis Vuitton, Celine, Givenchy. Renzo Rosso – Margeila, Diesel, Marni, Victor & Rolf. These guys got factories, they run that. 

*Kanye was referring to Bernard Arnault who is worth $35.4 billion and Francois Pinault is worth $12.1 billion.

Billboard Power 100 2016

Integrity, Money and Relevance

So urgency matters, for Kanye it matters to his relevancy to culture and the necessity to move fast with the right resources – again on Sway’s show he said, “The thing that compresses me is time vs money. Integrity, money and relevance, because as I work on clothing more, I’m not rapping as much, so I’m not in the middle of that future mix, cos I didn’t do that feature. I’m not rapping as much, I’m not having as much finances, I’m losing relevancy, the relevancy is part of my power, that allows my brand to be big. That’s what I’m saying, you juggle so crazy.

Doors being closed on Kanye West are almost unimaginable as the Will Smith movie ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, but following David Bowie’s death, the systematic racism of MTV re-emerged as a revelation for some, when his interview with MTV was unearthed. Kanye pointed it out to Sway – “I’m in that Michael Jackson position where he couldn’t get his video played on MTV, cos he was considered to be urban.

So there is a reason why the reductive quality of the press coverage about Kanye West does matter, why it does present a reductive view of him. Regardless of his all kinds of crazy, the message in the music, the tweets and the rants are all as relevant to us as they are to him. If you haven’t broken down the system part by part, worked behind the scenes, in the frontline and really peered behind the curtain, than get ‘woke’. It all started with a ‘college dropout’, who may have made a ‘late registration’, but following on from his eventual ‘graduation’, he went through some major ‘808s and heartbreak’, went deeper into his own ‘beautiful dark twisted fantasy’, started to ‘watch the throne’ and then rose like ‘Yeezus’ to reveal ‘the life of Pablo’.

There’s a narrative behind this story, don’t believe every story you read, but read the stories carefully and try and understand the narrative of the greatest manipulator of the internet who ever lived. In the end you decide.