There is no way to begin a report about Kanye West's Monday lecture at the Oxford Guild Business Society that would be better or more telling than Yeezy's own opening remarks: "OK, everyone please be completely quiet, because I can literally hear a whisper, and it'll throw off my stream of consciousness, and when I get my stream of consciousness going that's when I give the best, illest quotes."
And he did. He delivered 20 straight minutes of ill quotes about everything from materialism to The Matrix to his own notoriously outsized ego. Whether you think Kanye is crazy or a genius, you'll find your confirmation here.
These are the essential takeaways from Yeezy's lecture to 350 Oxford students:
Your BMW Won't Bring You Happiness
"It feels like people do everything in life to get this BMW, this Benz, to get this townhome, to get 2.5 kids exactly. One of them has to be small, y'know!
"And you're looking for this moment where you sit in your BMW after all the work you've done and all the accolades you get, and you somehow think you're gonna get that level of joy that my daughter had when she received those [toy] wolves [from artist Vanessa Beecroft]. And when you're sitting in traffic in your BMW, it's something that feels empty. To everyone who reaches that point. This concept of the selfish human, this idea of separation by race, or gender, or religion, or age, or my favorite thing to hate, class."
Neither Will a $5,000 Sweater
"It's illegal to not wear clothes, and also possibly too cold. That means someone is imposing an idea on you that should legally have to do! Clothing should be like food. There should never be a $5000 sweater. You know what should cost $5000? A car should be $5000. 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. And I am so fucking serious about this concept that I will stand in front of anyone and fight for it. Because I was 14 and middle class. I know what it felt like to not get what I have."
Actually, Time Is The Most Important Thing
Time is the only luxury. It's the only thing you can't get back. If you lose your luggage – I'm not gonna say the obvious brand of luggage that I'd normally say because I've got a meeting with them soon – if you lose your expensive luggage at the airport, you can get that back. You can't get the time back.
The Matrix Is Like the Bible
The Matrix is like the Bible of the post-information age.
"I compared it like, 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.
[Digression about Steve Jobs, and Kanye's personal friend Elon Musk]
Why do I say the Matrix is like the Bible? What is my definition of the Matrix?
[He didn't finish this thought.]
Kanye's Ego Is Huge... But Not That Huge
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.
One of the most memorable things about MBDTF was Nicki Minaj, and the fact that she kicked my ass, on my own song, on one of the best albums… the best album – I'm just saying what the critics said – of the last 25 years. The best album of the past 25 years that I spent a year and a half making, out there. 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 outshined…to be beat by a girl, 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.
Just Kidding, It's Pretty Big
"There's a Bible saying, 'No weapon formed against me shall prosper'. Recently I've been doing interviews and I've had to go back to this verse because I don't think there's a living celebrity with more weapons formed against them, but I also don't think there's one more prosperous.
Kanye Wanted to Be the Next Picasso
"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.
"People say to me 'you're successful, what are you crying about?'. I'm crying about the people. I'm crying about their daughters. Our daughters, as one family. What good is it. What good is anything that everyone can't have. Every ism. They think we're done with racism. What about elitism, what about separatism, what about classism? That's all."