Kanye West himself as soon as joked about his tendency to explode when he doesn’t obtain the popularity he deserves. On his Late Registration track “Diamonds,” he humblebragged that he “complains about what he is owed / And throws a tantrum like he is three years old,” however concluded, “You gotta love it though — somebody still speaks from his soul.”
That tendency — although largely derided and meme-d into the bottom by social media — is an enormous a part of why he’s nonetheless round. Long after his information stopped reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts and he alienated a lot of his high collaborators (to not point out, a major chunk of his fan base), his refusal to simply accept “no” for a solution ensured that he stays on the forefront of popular culture.
However, with solely a handful of musical releases in the previous couple of years, it isn’t his beats or his rhymes maintaining him there. Instead, it’s one other factor a phase of social media mocked him for — his style and sneaker designs. His versatility has proved to be the important thing to his longevity, and now, he’s the one laughing all the way in which to the financial institution.
All the way in which again in 2004, when The College Dropout took radio and MTV by storm, Kanye’s curiosity in style was each evident and adamant. He insisted that he’d be one of many high designers in style, making fashion selections that had been thought-about risqué on the time. When jerseys had been huge, he wore pink polos and blazers with denims. When hip-hop buttoned up, he went full-on luxurious, after which, retro.
Every time he made one in every of these dramatic, sartorial left turns, hip-hop adopted him, often fairly rapidly and enthusiastically. So, it is smart he believed he may take these trendsetting proclivities and carve out a second profession for himself within the design world. After all, on the time, it was additionally one thing of a rap ceremony of passage to drop a clothes line; 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Eve, Jay-Z, Nelly, Pharrell, and T.I. had all performed so.
However, Kanye’s inborn stubbornness wouldn’t let him simply do a clothes line — though he did strive one, Pastelle, that by no means fairly bought off the bottom. Instead, he insisted on applying to internships at Louis Vuitton and Raf Simons, working his manner up from the underside, and incomes his credentials in that world.
Although he was principally rejected early on, that roiling mental curiosity pushed him to additionally strive his hand in sneaker design. Partnering with Nike in 2009 for the Nike Air Yeezy, he launched one of the coveted footwear within the historical past of sneakers, Nike’s first non-athlete signature, and a turning level in hypebeast tradition. However, in typical Kanye style — pun one hundred pc meant — he wished extra inventive management and moved on after a second iteration that was probably much more standard than the primary.
Just a couple of years later, he took the inventive expertise he’d acquired at Nike and switched to Adidas, the place he launched the Yeezy Boost line. He additionally partnered with Louis Vuitton, the place he “learned to design woman’s shoes for 2 years” by apparently sneaking into the Giuseppe Zanotti manufacturing unit.
He ultimately did get that internship, as nicely, putting in a few months at Fendi and deciding that, nicely, it actually wasn’t for him. That’s okay although — regardless of his curiosity in excessive style, he was versatile about his alternatives. The footwear offers additionally served as his “in” for the ready-to-wear recreation as nicely, with every “Season” of his Yeezy model bringing one other wave of hype for stripped-down, luxurious clothes — clothes that ultimately helped usher in in the present day’s athleisure dominance.
Eventually, all this versatility led to a ten-year deal with Gap final yr, the place he’ll have his personal clothes line, Yeezy Gap, and supply “modern, elevated basics for men, women, and kids at accessible price points.” The deal will enable Ye the pliability of promoting each excessive and low, whereas his Yeezy deal makes him one of the recognizable names in footwear — and one of the profitable, with Bloomberg reporting a $3 billion valuation for Yeezy final yr.
Kanye’s versatility has at all times been the number-one attribute driving his success. When he may have maxed out as a producer, he grew to become a rapper. When his tastes modified, he went greater with the sound, then introduced in collaborators from all around the music world. Rather than being content material together with his musical stardom, he pursued much more of his passions — style, sneakers, design — to make sure that his model may by no means be restricted to only one factor or topic to the ever-changing tastes of only one sort of artwork.
You can’t be all issues to all individuals — one thing Ye hopefully realized from his disastrous political attempt final yr — however you possibly can at all times make certain to develop your pursuits so that you by no means get caught in a single field. Ye refuses to let himself grow to be stagnant, and that’s why — hate him or love him — he’s in all probability right here to remain.