Rapper used speech to address classism in American and British society
Kanye West has discussed the damaging effect that class distinction has on America and the UK and called upon society to be less narcissistic in a speech at Oxford University.
The rapper was delivering his talk at the city’s Natural History Museum this afternoon (March 2) on behalf of the Oxford Guild Society. Addressing societal problems, he stated: “My Achilles’ heel is my ego. But if I, Kanye West, can remove my ego, then there’s hope for everyone.”
The talk was given to an audience of 350 students out of 5,000 who balloted for tickets. West was greeted by a standing ovation from the students, who he asked to remain totally silent. “If I hear so much as a whisper then I lose my stream of consciousness,” he said, before proceeding to talk about his time at art school, where he said he would have hoped to be “Picasso, or greater”.
On the issue of class, the rapper said: “We have so many opportunities now, Obama’s president, Beyoncé’s cool, and white people who listen to rap say ‘nigger’ in the privacy of their own home. But something that you’re being taught everyday without even realising it is class.
“People think we no longer have racism. What about elitism? What about classism? There should never be a $5,000 shirt. You know what should cost $5,000? A car. And you know who should be making that car? The guy who is making a $500,000 car. They should be doing things for the people. They should be making things for the people.
“We’re looking for that joy you have as a child, and so people go out and buy a BMW or a Benz, and they sit in their Benz, and they realise there’s something so empty about doing that.”
In his speech, West referenced the biblical verse Isaiah 54:17 – ‘No weapons formed against you shall prosper’ – but stated that he could “not think of another artist with more weapons formed against him, or who was so prosperous.” He also said he thought “The Matrix is like the Bible, attacking you from every angle” but that “if you have a reason why and a squad, you can put the world in slow motion.”
West also talked about his progression as an artist and revealed that his main focus now was collaboration. “Ideas are free. Something that’s happened to my progression as an artist with the advent of a person called Drake, who blew out every Number One, is that now I realise I am a servant and have a responsibility to serve,” he said.
Last week’s Brit Awards were also mentioned, with West taking a dig at the official sponsor: “There should be an awards show for the Nobel Prize, but that probably wouldn’t sell as many Mastercard ads… No offence to Mastercard, but that was a big fucking logo.”
West debuted a heavily censored version of new song ‘All Day’ at the aforementioned Brit Awards. On Sunday the rapper revealed that his new album will be titled ‘So Help Me God’. West announced the news via Twitter alongside artwork from the forthcoming release.