The 36-year-old Chicago native made his rounds at Miami's Art Basel event this week and spoke with architect Jacques Herzog Wednesday (Dec. 4) about the influence his design background has had on his music.
Before rap stardom, West was offered scholarships from the American Academy of Art, Saint Xavier, and the Art Institute of Chicago, he said. He completed one semester of studies and dropped out to follow his rap dream. "My original creative background was fine art," West explained. "By the time I was 14, I was in national competitions for art, and I actually went to school for art. Sometimes I actually forget that. Except for when I tour and I look back at the stage and say, 'Wait a second, I forgot this was the whole trick I pulled on everyone to make them think I was a rapper, a musician or celebrity when the entire time it's all been a giant art project.'"
Yeezus chose the music path instead of a design career believing his artistic aesthetic wasn't "strong enough" at the time. "When I would see my own work, I never thought I would visually be able to become one of the masters," he continued. "I thought I had a stronger opinion when I worked on music. I got a stronger response."
Six solo albums later, and West has decided to now compress the amount of music he puts out. "I think my next album is going to be eight songs," he announced. "It's just reducing down the amount of information that you need," West continued. "People say a design is the point where you can't take anything else away. [Yeezus] was very, very designed. I took a departure from radio and popular music in order to get this seat here. If I hadn't made Yeezus, I wouldn't be sitting here with this cool font at Basel right here."
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(Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
(Photo: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)