Ye: Between Creation and Controversy

Ye : Entre Création et Controverse

This article originally appeared in “Hypebeast Magazine Issue 33: The Systems Issue”

As an enigmatic figure who persists, the life of Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — is a constant presence that has evolved with us over the years. Whether one follows his career closely or not, we are all familiar with his many eras, where the only constant seems to be the rapidity with which he moves from one phase to another, often influencing the zeitgeist in tandem with its own developments.

We've seen his style evolve from polo shirts to kilts, from his post-apocalyptic era to oversized boots and glittery masks — each sartorial period etched into our minds alongside the musical period-specific soundtrack of Ye or his many controversial episodes. His latest discovery? Black and white hockey masks. Which leads us to wonder: what will the Jason Voorhees-style mask and Ye's all-black look announce to the ever-watchful world? Better yet, we wonder, who is behind the mask these days?

Well into his 40s, Ye appears to be entering a new phase of growth, this time striving to reclaim his job and money — breaking major contracts with adidas and no longer signing with his label longtime Def Jam — building his own brand, releasing his album VULTURES 1 independently, and even launching his own media platform . He seems happy, even fulfilled, when he talks about his new wife and creating music with his daughter. It's difficult to say whether he begins to calm down with age or whether he continues to defy, in his own way, the reputation that has been attached to him in recent years.

Masked Creativity

In the middle of an interview, Ye returns to his fascination with masks, a recurring element in his public appearances. “When I played with Star Wars figures, GI Joes or Transformers, they were all different. I didn't have to always play with the same character. When we do these performances, it's like a huge playground. That's what masks are for me. »

His interest in collaborations is also central. Speaking about his connection with Ty$, he explains: “Me and Ty have been doing music for so long. What people see now, they probably didn't realize at first. It's like, 'Oh, Ty wrote about "FourFiveSeconds," Ty wrote about "Only One" and "Real Friends" and "Fade."' He wrote on tracks I did with Paul McCartney. And now people see these whole albums and say, 'Oh wow, they make really good music together, the best music even.' »

The Family at the Heart of Creation

Working with his daughter on music has deep meaning for Ye. “She’s just an incredible artist. That's what she is. All the music she works on, she produces herself. It's just a total expression of who she is, from what she does performance-wise, to what she thinks lyrically. When my wife and North are together, I think of them as my two favorite artists. And people haven't even seen a little bit of the work that they're going to bring to the table. My daughter working with me as a rapper is like me starting out with the Rolling Stones and U2. »

Systems and Ambition

Asked about his vision of a perfect system, Ye says with a laugh: “What, like socialism? The closest to a perfect system would be humans, who have not yet been perfected because we are perishing. We still have to cut the umbilical cord when we are born. So there are still some changes to be made. »

Ye's ambition knows no bounds. Even after becoming a billionaire, he still considers wealth a crucial tool for his industrial projects. “I bragged about never using 'other people's money' — until Adidas canceled the deal and I really realized it was their money. They gave me a percentage, but I needed to create my own systems and my own connection with the public to control my own money. Money is a tool. Maybe we trade time, but all are forms of energy and support. »

Presidential Vision and Fashion

When asked what he would do as president of the United States, Ye quotes Rick Rubin: "I'm not a producer, I'm a reducer." The world is an engine, and people over-inflate themselves inside the engine, which makes it run less well. Everyone has a position in life, but you need a leader, a founder, a conductor, a director, a producer, a maestro, a composer, and I do all these things. I have always been a leader. Since kindergarten, other children followed me. »

Speaking about his current fashion instincts, Ye expresses his enthusiasm for Gosha YZY clothing. “It's like a dream come true because I was obsessing over his work when I was making more expensive YZY clothes. That whole year I searched and found every Gosha piece online that I could. Then, just by chance, a friend of mine was in Russia and was supposed to meet Gosha. Gosha didn't come to that meeting, but we spoke on the phone, and the first thing he said was, 'I miss you.' Then we had a meeting at Sting's villa in Florence. The combination reminded me of when Miuccia worked with Helmut Lang and now she works with Raf. But I've heard stylists say that Miuccia doesn't need Raf. Ultimately, there are certain personalities that work together. The combination of Miuccia and her husband was the impetus that made Prada great. »

A New Era for YZY

Speaking about the new YZY collection and its success, Ye explains: “You need someone who can organize all these things. It's art to me. What I lacked in design, I made up for in delegation and execution tenfold. Bernard Arnault is over 70 years old. Elon is over 50 years old. I'm in my forties and I knock on all their doors. I appreciate the experiences I've had that have brought me to a point where I can make very concise decisions in so many genres at the same time. This approach creates a sort of George Lucas-style world. Instead of it being inside the film, it's our film. George Lucas was in a position to push films this far because of the money he made on toys. Likewise, I can experiment because of the money I made from Yeezys. »

Speaking of his current independence, Ye is visibly proud: “It's amazing to play at this level and still be independent. Sometimes the term GOAT (Greatest of All Time) means great respect. But it could also be an insult, like, 'Oh, you're in the house, you're not on the field with us.' But now we are on the ground. With Lil Durk and Bump J, we were doing club shows in Dubai. Meek Mill was there the week before us. Then I was doing a Vultures listening event in the club, just getting on stage with Durk, and just being able to push things. Whether it's clothes or music, a lot of people always want to give me advice on things they've never done themselves. So I was the only person who could figure out how to do it again — or do it like that for the first time, independently. I'm talking about being able to push clothes the same way I push music. »

A Reinvented Life

For Ye, this new phase of his life is the happiest he has ever known. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” I'm with my wife, with Aus Taylor, my visual director at YZY, with Dov Charney. All year I have been with loved ones, doing it ourselves independently. A good example is YesJulz finding the right people to run our Super Bowl ad. It was so successful. She figured out how to get us on television. People might not remember, but we did a hoodie commercial for Gap around "Heaven and Hell." With this ad, we sold $16 million worth of hoodies. That's what television does. “Carnival” is the world number one without any radio airplay. Well, it's number two now, but I'm projecting into the future. I make optimistic predictions. »

To conclude, Ye raves about how the Internet has allowed artists to be as independent as possible: “Lenny Kravitz had visions of creating clothing on the same level as Hedi Slimane, but using his audience and platform . Prince had a vision of delivering it all on his own platform, too. And now with the Internet, artists can be as independent as possible. »

Ultimately, Ye's determination and vision, whether supported or not, cannot be ignored. Through ups and downs, he continues to redefine standards and push boundaries, proving that ambition and creativity have no limits. Love him or hate him, Ye remains an unwavering force in the world of music, fashion, and beyond.