Some people call me a Kanye West apologist. Unlike most the rest of the Pando staff, I loved his performance at Bonnaroo. His “Imma let you finish” moment with Taylor Swift is one of the most hilarious pop culture moments of my lifetime. And his “Bush doesn’t care about black people” speech, while obviously a huge over-simplification and perhaps unfair, was also an instance of startling candidness and vulnerability from a major celebrity who, right or wrong, gave voice to what many people were thinking.
Even I agree, however, that not everything that comes out of Kanye West’s mouth is brilliant. But in a roundtable interview with Bloomberg at the Cannes Creativity Festival (which also featured investor Ben Horowitz) the rap superstar/Lisa Frank enthusiast/self-professed God West said some pretty smart things about Apple, Beats, and how the smartest technology companies, like hip-hop stars, find ways to blend product, art, and culture.
To a large extent, West praised Apple, though he did criticize the company for not paying artists at its iTunes Festival, instead promising more prominent iTunes placement. Beyond that, however, West had many kind words for the iPhone makers, as well as its rivals Samsung.
“There would’ve been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal [with Jay-Z] because it showed, now that Steve has passed, because it showed a number one company the importance of connecting with culture,” West says.
He adds: “The best thing about the fall of Blackberry and the rise of Apple is the win for creativity and companies that are based off the idea and not just based off the amount of product that they put out.”
And finally, West emphasizes the importance of blending “lifestyle and product,” something tech companies do, but which began in large part with hip-hop. To hear West tell it, hip-hop’s origination of this blend was as much as a matter of timing as anything else.
Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle asked, “Why wasn’t mick jagger selling these skinny pants 30 years ago?”
“It just was uncool,” says West. “It goes through waves and stuff.”
Watch the full video below. It’s no “Bound 2″ but it’s worth five minutes of your time.