- As an individual man living on top of the world and not wanting to be tethered
- As a social theorist that has certain views on society and how his theories might work if they were ever popularly implemented
Let me be clear - Kanye West is only an individual and he has a right to his own views. He also has a right to make social commentary which he has done so frequently.
In my assessment of his words below, however, I believe that he fails as a person containing a set of believes, which if implemented upon a society, would have a corrective effect. Like it or not religious dogma is an important framework by which a society must be constructed. I must note that I am of the belief that "secularism" functions as a religion in its framing of 'morality' and behavior.
Too many people who might be inclined to agree with the social laissez-faire as expressed by Kanye West will fail to see that what works for an unhinged mutli-millionaire, jet setting single man will work for society at large. While they may seek to live vicariously through his success - his lifestyle does not translate into rational social policy for all.
Religion and social order is vital for a society of people. To argue that since some people over time have used the institutions of religion to violate others as the reason for his rejection of this order is preposterous. Would we say the same thing with regard to government which has done the same?
We are living in a celebrity culture where the latest "American Idol" has more pull than ever. Some people will learn to appreciate the value of the FUNCTION of societal framework but will do so only after it has been dismantled.
From the "Bossip" web site:
Bossip: We recently saw your quote “I don’t believe in religion, and I don’t believe in giving it all up to Jesus.” Does this mean that you’re no longer a Christian?
Yeezy: I believe in God. Christianity wasn’t an option when I was growing up, it was the only thing. It wasn’t like I was given the decision at the time. You know how you decide that you want to be a Doctor or a Lawyer or a painter or a basketball player or whatever? You’re not given a decision of what religion you want. Your parents just give it to you. Like, you’re a Jew or you’re a Muslim or you’re a Christian. I feel like religion is more about separation and judgment than bringing people together and understanding. That’s all I’m about. I’m about accepting people for who they are. Live and let live. I fully embrace every culture there is. I love when people are who they are to the fullest. Like, I think that Cam’ron is just as much a fashion icon as Stefano Pilati, who is basically the best dressed person on Earth. That’s the head designer of YSL. (Yves Saint Laurent)
Bossip: If you had to give yourself a specific religious title, like are you studying anything new now?
Yeezy: I would never go into a religion. I guess my religion is just what I do religiously when I wake up in the morning. I had a conversation with my Dad when I was twenty years old and I don’t believe in this everybody’s going to hell thing; everyone who isn’t a Christian is in the wrong. His response at that time was, ‘Well I’d hate to see you not spend eternity with me and burn in the depths of hell.’ I was like well hell, I don’t want that to happen, so let me set up this insurance plan and just do this. (he laughs) . My father is much more open-minded about that now, though.
Bossip: So do you believe in Jesus at all?
Yeezy: I believe in Jesus as an icon, but I don’t feel the responsibility to put my life on Jesus. I feel I need to take responsibility for my own successes and failures. Why I say, ‘I don’t give it all up to Jesus’ is because there are a lot of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives, and always think Jesus is gonna handle it. And, that’s what I refuse to do. Christianity is embedded in who I am, so I will still say things like this is a blessing, amen, and still say prayers; things that your Grandmother embedded in you. I’m always gonna have a little Chicago in me, a little hood in me, and a little Christianity in me. Just because it’s what I know. But, I do not believe that other religions are going to hell, I do not believe in a lot of elements of it. I want to express to people that I do believe in God, but I also have friends whom are atheists. I have friends that are super duper Christians. If I come to a person that’s a super Christian and I tell them what I believe in and they tell me what they believe, I super respect that. I like when people are into what they’re into. If that’s your thing, and you break it down and you’re really into the bible and you believe everything about it, and you believe in immaculate conception and stuff like that. Like, you believe in the “rib” and all that, I’m just like, man, that’s dope for you. People will say ‘Aw, man he wasn’t saying that Jesus thing when he made the song!’ But, when I made the song, that’s how I felt, but this is six years later. This is how I feel now. The whole thing about religion, other people’s religion and other things that they shell out, I have my own opinion on everything. Anything that I take, I’m going to do it my way. Like, if I take a car, I’m going to paint it the way I want to paint it. My thing was, after my mom passed, it wasn’t a thing where I lost my mind or anything. I was less scared to speak my mind. Cause there’s nothing I could lose. There’s nothing that could be taken away from me. Soon as you’re not willing to change and go off of what you feel that morning, your life starts moving in reverse like Benjamin Button or something. Now, you’re moving backwards, you’re not growing anymore. Life is about change and if you’re not willing to change you’re not really willing to live your life, and soak in the amount of new information that’s given to you. Since day one, I knew the difference between right and wrong. I could predict what was happening. I had karma and anyone who’s ever had beef with me, something happened to them, like it’s really just been in God’s hands.
Religion is like clothing. People want comfort. People don’t want to have to take that off. People don’t want to accept the concept of there not being a heaven possibly, or the concept of losing someone and not seeing them again. The only thing that keeps you going is the idea that you will see them again.
It’s [religion] also like branding. Some people go Bapes head to toe, some people do Polo head to toe. Some people go Rocawear head to toe. Me, I kind of just go into the store and take the piece that I like the most. I’m no poster child for any particular brand. What I have to realize and what shocks people, or polarizes people is that I’m actually a brand. I’m something that people build up and believe in. They name their kids because they believe Kanye believes this. But I’m also a real person; a growing person and an artist. I don’t want the responsibility of waiting to move because this many people believe this. Like, if you believe in Kanye, if you believe in me, then just believe that I’m going to be honest with you and express to you what I believe that day. I’m not gonna be holding a congregation and fucking prostitutes and it come out to them years later. I’m gonna come to the congregation like man, last Friday I got some head from a prostitute, I’m just gon’ go head and let y’all know.