Kanye West Says He’s the Next Steve Jobs

| Analysis

Kanye West. Rapper, pop star. He's iconic and an iconoclast, both. He's not afraid to reinvent himself with each new album, and he clearly, clearly has no problem saying what's on his mind. If that reminds you of someone, let Mr. West be sure you know who, that's Steve Jobs.

Kanye West

Kanye West

In an interview with the New York Times, Kanye West compared himself to Steve Jobs, going so far as to say that Mr. Jobs's passing clears the way for Kanye West to become Kanye West.

The five page story from The Times includes two comparisons by Mr. West to Steve Jobs. In the first, he made an astute observation about Steve Jobs, and then humbly offered himself as another example of that observation. From the interview:

I would hear stories about Steve Jobs and feel like he was at 100 percent exactly what he wanted to do, but I’m sure even a Steve Jobs has compromised. Even a Rick Owens has compromised. You know, even a Kanye West has compromised. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’re being compromised till after the fact, and that’s what you regret.

Mmmhmmm...

On page five, Mr. West took it to a whole other level where he not only compared himself to Steve Jobs, but to Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and a few other iconic figures of innovation. That passage in full (note that the quote is from Mr. West—he's referring to himself in the third person):

I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.

I’ve been connected to the most culturally important albums of the past four years, the most influential artists of the past ten years. You have like, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, Nicolas Ghesquière, Anna Wintour, David Stern.

I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: “This is the level that things could be at.” So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it’s supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.

Audacious as heck, and I'll be the first to note that while Steve Jobs talked about great artists like Pablo Picasso (and many other figures) as inspirations, he never compared himself to them nor stated that he was in their company. Those sorts of comparisons were made by other people.

Accordingly, there's something about Mr. West's braggadocio that is off-putting, to say the least. Indeed, reaction in the tech world has so far been universal condemnation to this interview.

Here's the deal: so far, Kanye West's track record backs up his epically large ego. He has succeeded at everything he's set out to do. He has reinvented himself repeatedly, eschewing the easy for the hard, for the interesting at every stop.

He's made a few mistakes along the way—in my opinion—but so has everyone, including the legends he's so humbly listing himself among.

But, and this is a really, really big but, he could well be the head of a company worth billions of dollars. He could well go on to be as innovative in the fields he works in—music, fashion, and whatever "culture" means in his context—as Steve Jobs was in the world of technology and movies.

I'm not saying he's the next Steve Jobs, but I wouldn't bet against him having an enormous impact on the world in the future.

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Comments

xmattingly

Love him or hate him, I don’t think anyone ever accused Steve Jobs of being a douchebag. Maybe Kanye forgot that part.

Insaneneo

A Ghetto Blaster thats a Self Proclaimed God…..REALLY!!  The guy that hangs off of Jay-Z’s coat tail, that guy? 

He should have to pay the Jobs Family Royalties just to have the privilege of saying “Mr. Steve Jobs” name.

Back to the ghetto little lost boy!!!

davebarnes

When this douchebag founds a company that grows into one of the premier companies on the planet, then he he gets to spout [expletive deleted].

furbies

Ego, much ?

Winski

The guy is just a street punk.. He should be treated that way…

WHAT HAS HE INVENTED???

John Bailey

Yes, Kanye West is a relatively known name in the average household. But that’s mainly because of his paparazzi-attracting rhetoric. Not because of his innovation or creativity.

Kanye West has left no impression on music, no impression in fashion, no impression in technology, and no impression in linguistics. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

He has left no lasting mark on this planet. He’s just another interesting celebrity of our time. But he will be forgotten. The people he compares himself to, will not be forgotten.

All I honestly want to know is your justification for saying he could “have an enormous impact on the future,” As a music major and a technology enthusiast, I see no lasting mark that he has made on…well, just about anything. Kanye West is a narcissist and nothing more.

Bryan Chaffin

Insaneneo, Kanye West grew up in a middle class neighborhood, not the ghetto. His mother was an English professor at one college, and the chair of an English department at another. Your “ghetto” comments and their associated assumptions betray your racism. It’s disappointing and quite unwelcome.

John Bailey, I wrote that I wouldn’t bet against him having an enormous impact on the world in the future. As I noted in the article, he has so far accomplished everything he has set out to do. Accordingly, I wouldn’t bet against him when he says he will do something else. I don’t think I can justify my opinion to your satisfaction, but it’s just that, an opinion. It shouldn’t be mistaken as an endorsement of his ego and self-proclamations of his place in history.

Winski, your “street punk” epithet carries its own unfounded assumptions. As to your question, he has invented (written) songs. He has invented ways to present music (as a producer and musician). Producing is an art form. A high art form in my mind, even for genres I don’t like. He has also designed clothes. That doesn’t make him the next Steve Jobs, but as a musician, songwriter, and would-be producer, I personally admire his accomplishment and recognize the enormous talent they required.

estern53

Kanye who?

Lee Dronick

I am not a fan of his or his genre of music. However, a lot of people like that stuff so live and let live. As to his statement, it takes some chutzpa and self-confidence to great things.

William Murphy

Where’s Admiral Stockdale when you need him.  “I knew Steve Jobs, and Kanye, you’re no Steve Jobs.”

Insaneneo

Bryan Chaffin, I live in The Bronx, NY.  I know who and what a Ghetto Blaster is and it has nothing to do with racism!! I dont care about his upbringing or his color its about how he acts in public, how he conducts himself.  For instance Jay-Z is NOT a ghetto blaster, he is a person with class, he is a business man with a vision!  Kanye West is a GHETTO BLASTER with a big mouth and NO CLASS!! Who insults WHITE PEOPLE in his songs!! SO if you want to pull a racism card call Kanye.

jfbiii

Fish sticks, anyone?

Lee Dronick

  Where’s Admiral Stockdale when you need him.  “I knew Steve Jobs, and Kanye, you’re no Steve Jobs.”

The statement “You’re no John Kennedy” was made by a different Vice President candidate, Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

Vice Presidential candidate Admiral Stockdale said during a debate “Why am I here?”

 

wab95

Bryan:

I shared your column last night with my son, who both knows and has studied Rap music, its history and its artists.

Before your riposte to some of the commenters above, he quickly pointed out that Kanye is not from ‘the ghetto’, but from a solidly middle class, educated family, and attended prep school. Not surprising, as exposure is a great platform for art and launching an art career.

My son had a good laugh, though, and said these comments were vintage Kanye, and proceeded to give me a rundown of a history of similar outlandish commentary and his MO of saying whatever is on his mind. When I mentioned that, clinically, it sounded as if this fellow simply lacked a filter, he related a story that my son assured me is known to everyone but me that occurred at a music awards ceremony, and which prompted one sitting US president to refer to Kanye as an anal sphincter (okay, he didn’t use the clinical anatomical term - but I’m trying to maintain your PG rating here).

My son also offered that, while he isn’t viewed as being anywhere near as innovative or having the same footprint as some of the greatest lights in the Rappers’ pantheon, he is bigger than a host of artists whose names I won’t even attempt to relate, and many of which sounded to me more like insults than titles by which one would call oneself, but I digress. In short, in the Rap market, he is respected.

It was my son’s final comment, however, that gave me an insight into this man’s singular genius for notoriety and expanding his territorial waters. He pointed out that he is the type of bloke whom you don’t need to go searching for, rather he will find you and plant himself on your windscreen and light up your radar. He pointed out that by citing Steve Jobs, he just marketed himself to an entire sector that hitherto might not have cared about him, or even known of his existence (I raise my hand). This behaviour has now converted his name into a verb, and, in my son’s circle, is known as being ‘Kanyed’. He concluded by pointing out that Kanye had crossed into my and my fellow tech-geek mates’ air space, lit up our radar, and now would be indelibly imprinted on our consciousnesses, whether we want it, like it, or not. He concluded, with a smirk, that we had all just been ‘Kanyed’.

Based on the commentary above, I think the lad has a point. The man knows how to market himself, which for a performing artist, is an important element for contemporary success. As for self-aggrandisement, self-addulation, self-promotion, narcissism, out-sized ego, and being out of touch with reality; I’d say he’s in good company with a number of CEOs of billion dollar companies, and might well be on his way to joining them.

ctopher

xmattingly - I recommend entering “Steve Jobs Douchebag” into the search engine of your choice. It seems a lot of people called Mr. Jobs a Douchebag, and lots of other not so nice appellations.

(Notice that ctopher used douchbag and appellation in the same sentence! That ctopher is one clever person wink )

jameskatt

If Kanye thinks he is the next Steve Jobs, then the only thing they have in common is that Kanye is the next person to die of pancreatic cancer.

ctopher

wab95 - To summarize then your son said that TMO fed the troll.

(And we continue, I am not above it either, sadly…)

wab95

@ctopher:

Indeed.

Andhaka

Come on!!

We all know Kanye is a gay fish, not a ghetto blaster. :D

Cheers

marcsten

I’m not much of a Kanye fan, although you can’t deny his impact on culture, good or bad. But as for comparing himself to Steve Jobs, he reminds me more of Steve Ballmer.

dswoodley

Uh-huh.  And wasn’t Milli Vanilli supposed to be the new Elvis Presley?  I’m sorry maybe when he is a force for DECADES in an industry, then I can take such an arrogant self-serving statement seriously.  For now, IMHO he comes across to me as a self-important, narcissistic ass-clown. This is among your more bizarre opinions, Bryan.  Usually, you are pretty well-measured and a have good sense of perspective.  If you like his music, great.  If you are impressed with what his rather modest accomplishments, great. I can think of dozens of names of the top of my head, however, that cross industries whom deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Steve, Walt and Henry and others.  Genius never has the need to say “Look at me!  Look what I’m doing!”  This is a child masquerading as a man.

xmattingly

ctopher:

1. Search engines ALWAYS give you context. It doesn’t matter how random a string of words you put together… if you return search hits, it absolutely MUST be accurate.
2. Blogs are a GREAT source of news information.
3. Wikipedia is THE go-to place if you need to research a term paper.

eolake

“The past ten years…” And several of the examples he gives have not been alive for decades!

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