Kanye West interview: 'I have driven my Truman Show boat into the painting'

In an extraordinary interview with Zane Lowe, the rapper-designer laid into the entire culture industry, more or less

Kanye West launched an excoriating attack on racism across culture – in fashion, theatre, film and music – in an interview with Radio 1's Zane Lowe on Monday night. Focussing on his desire to expand beyond music, he said: "I have driven my Truman Show boat into the painting. I have hit a glass ceiling." West said creative black people were allowed their "best perspective on T-shirts. But if it's anything else, your Truman Show boat is hitting the wall."

In an extraordinary interview, sometimes humorous and sometimes vituperative, West returned again and again to those who would thwart his desires to expand way beyond music, and to pointing out that black people are routinely denied the opportunities granted to white people. He said he might discuss ideas of theatrical production, as practised in the Watch the Throne stage show, in interviews, only to be ignored – then a week later see an interview with white cultural figure in which the same ideas were discussed and endorsed. "I look round the room and there is no one here who looks like me," he told Lowe. "And if there is, they are keeping quiet."

He also castigated those who have set ideas about what a black cultural figure should be, specifically referring to the song I Am a God, from his most recent album Yeezus. He asked if those who had criticised him for the song would rather he had said he was a gangster, or a drug dealer. "All those patinas fit better on a person like me."

West was especially critical of the fashion industry, which he said had put up obtstacles to his involvement, despite his assertion he now spends 80% of his time working on fashion and only 20% working on music. "Why do you think Niggaz in Paris is called Niggaz in Paris," he said. "Cos Niggaz were in Paris. I've put in the 10,000 hours. No one can say I don't know how to design a men's sneaker."

Reading on mobile? Watch the interview here

He suggested the fashion industry's attempt to exclude him would be the equivalent of the music industry ignoring a superstar. "It's like if Drake made his first album and was never allowed to be signed … Then people say: Why are you mad?" The designer Hedi Slimane came in for repeated and particular criticism, with the roots of West's anger apparently being Slimane's demand that if West attended Silmane's show in Paris, he should not go to any other shows.

Nevertheless, he said he was convinced his day would come. "This new place where I'm going to, I'm speaking to everybody, but I'm sending cues to everybody to say: 'Come and help me help everyone else. You will win! You will win!'"

West paid tribute to his Watch the Throne partner Jay-Z, saying the older rapper had looked out for West and protected him in the backbiting culture of hip-hop. He also suggested his sometime partner is more fulfilled. "Jay is more realised than me," West said. "More of his hopes and dreams and aspirations have come true … You don't realise, I am so frustrated. I've got so much I want to give. I've got ideas on colour palettes. I've got ideas on silhouettes. And I've got a million people telling me I can't do it. 'You're not a real designer.' Well, I'm not a real rapper."

West accepted he would always be a divisive figure – "I think there are people who are wired by their parents to understand what I'm saying and I think there are people who are wired by their parents to reject what I'm saying" – but he said no matter what people thought of him, he would be remembered. "They will play this interview in five years. they will play this interview in 10 years and say: 'He called that. He called that.'"


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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