Kanye West spoke at Oxford University in England on Monday at a special event organized by the Oxford Guild Business Society.
The 20-minute speech’s subject matter ranged substantially, from the joking suggestion that the Nobel Peace Prize should have an awards show like the Grammys to how Nicki Minaj‘s dominating feature on his magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy taught him a lesson in controlling one’s ego and that ideas should be free.
At the onset, West asked the crowd to be absolutely quiet so he could get his stream of consciousness going and give the “illest quotes,” before name dropping Elon Musk and Barack Obama as friends (“he calls my home phone, by the way,” he said of the President), and suggesting The Matrix is “like the Bible of the post-information age.”
In all, it was a dense session, and you can read the full transcript here via The Tab. But in effort of simplifying West’s many thoughts, here are the 10 best quotes from his lecture, listed chronologically:
1. “My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater. That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone in the past that has done so much, and in your life you’re not even allowed to think that you can do as much. That’s a mentality that suppresses humanity.”
2. “Some of you here probably remember the night when the Donda [his creative agency] tweets came through me and I started talking about professions that you guys are going into, that seemed they had nothing to do with a rapper. I was talking about a band of thinkers that could remove religion, race, gender, and somehow come together to find solutions for a broken planet. We have the resources as a civilization to find a utopia, but we’re led by the most greedy and the least noble.”
3. “What I notice about creatives is that, and one of the reasons why I get into trouble, is, not only do I want to design video games, or make music, or ride bikes, I think one of the most important things to my ability to create so much in the past 30 years is my desire to play sports. I approach creativity like a sport, where if I have a drawing I react just like a jock: LOOK AT THE FUCKING DRAWING RIGHT THERE YEAH! We’re all creatives here, we’re all born artists. Some people are artists of business, some people are artists of composition.”
4. “The Matrix is like the Bible of the post-information age…. When the hundred guys come at Neo, those are opinions, that’s perception, that’s tradition. Attacking people from every which angle possible. If you have a focus wide and master senseis like Laurence Fishburne and you have a squad behind you, you literally can put the world in slow motion.”
5. “This humanity that I talk about, this civilization that I talk about, this future utopia I talk about…it can only happen through collaboration. I love Steve Jobs, he’s my favorite person, but there’s one thing that disappoints me. When Steve passed he didn’t give the ideas up. That’s kinda selfish. You know that Elon’s like ‘yeah, take these ideas.’ Maybe there are companies outside of Apple that could work on them and push humanity forward. Maybe the stock brokers won’t like that, the stock holders wouldn’t like that idea, but ideas are free and you can’t be selfish with them.”
6. “We’ve been sold a concept of joy through advertising, through car advertising, through fashion branding. It’s not the concept of time, time with your family, time with your friends, the little time that we do have on earth and what we do with that. It was somehow sold to us through a Gucci bag or something. Time is the only luxury. It’s the only thing you can’t get back. If you lose your luggage … you can get that back. You can’t get the time back.”
7. I was exiled from my country, it was a personal exile, but exile. To come back and deliver my magnum opus of a work, and to be out-shined…to be beat by a girl [Nicki Minaj], basically. This was necessary. I think it was one of the most important points of working on that album, was to not stop her from her moment because of how good she is…. One of my biggest Achilles heels has been my ego. And if I, Kanye West, the very person, can remove my ego, I think there’s hope for everyone.”
8. “People say it takes a village to raise a child. People ask me how my daughter is doing. She’s only doing good if your daughter’s doing good. We’re all one family. We have the ability to approach our race like ants, or we have the ability to approach our race like crabs.”
9. I’m successful in learning about the beauty that is afforded rich people. But in learning that, being brought up, middle class, it’s something that is beating out of my chest. ‘Wait a second, I was middle class, and I didn’t get to see none of this shit.’ Let’s have an NBC telethon moment, and say that beauty has been stolen from the people and is being sold back to them under the concept of luxury!”
10. “Clothing should be like food. There should never be a $5,000 sweater. You know what should cost $5,000? A car should be $5,000. And you know who should work on the car? The people that work on the $500,000 cars. All the best talent in the world needs to work for the people.”