Kanye West and Pharrell Williams are teaming up, this time in the pages of i-D.
The rap legend interviewed The Neptunes super-producer for the cover of the magazine’s “Faith In Chaos Issue,” which was created after social distancing went into effect.
While quarantined with his family at his Wyoming ranch, Ye celebrated his “Number One” collaborator, while also discussing their beginnings, optimal creativity, and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kanye praised Pharrell for being a pioneer in music and fashion. “I think one of the things that you, Pharrell, inspired in me was this fearlessness to break the mould. You’re the inspiration,” he said. “Before I wore a pink polo you were wearing a pink polo. That lineage is mapped out and proven, and you can go from then all the way up to the moment we have in culture now. You broke down the doors in fashion for us.”
He also likened him to Michael Jackson. “It felt like you really tore down the walls and the doors much like Michael Jackson did a generation before, and in a way, he’s very similar to Michael Jackson, in the ways where Michael Jackson was doing covert, super gangsta stuff, like he’d just pop the needles off,” added Ye. “He kissed Elvis Presley’s daughter on MTV. Black culture used to be… we used to be fronting all night, but Michael was doing stuff that was different to what we were programmed to understand as being what we should do.”
Kanye compared his relationship with the media to the King of Pop. “We should have something that says we can’t allow any company to tear down our heroes,” he said. “I’m like every time the media isn’t happy with me it’s like, ‘Here they go. They’re gonna come and Wacko Jacko me.’ Which in some ways, they’ve tried to do.”
After Ye called him “one of the best,” Pharrell was left speechless and returned the compliment. “I believe you’re one of the most influential entities the world has ever seen, because of the way your presence and your point of view is rooted in so many worlds,” he said. “When you speak, they’re going to listen. Whether they agree, disagree or whatever, they’re going to hear you, and there are going to be people who are reading this who are gonna need to hear from you.”
At one point in the interview, Pharrell said Stevie Wonder wanted to speak with Kanye and texted him his phone number.
Pharrell also shared his thoughts on the coronavirus and its lasting impact on life. “I think we need to be clear that this is a plague we’re living through at the moment. I don’t think there will be such a thing as a new normal – it doesn’t do enough justice to the difference in who we were pre-pandemic and who we will be moving forward. I think it’s made a lot of people very wary and on edge.”
While he’s sad to see businesses shuttered and people unemployed, he’s hopeful that we will overcome. “But we have been through many plagues before. We have been through pandemics. We survived. We’re gonna make it,” added Pharrell. “In a lot of ways we got ourselves into this, we gotta get to work to get through it.”
As for Kanye, he says the pandemic helped put things into perspective for him. “We have this moment right now to just really reset because the world wasn’t heading in the right direction,” he said. “Everything is up to God and we have this opportunity to collectively feel, to be saved and answered, to collectively think about what is happening really. We have this time to pause and reflect, to ask each other how we’re really feeling.”
Elsewhere during their candid conversation, Kanye discussed his faith and building homeless shelters (“The idea was to make a space that was also going to inspire, and in a place that I would live in”). He is now focused on localizing manufacturing to produce his Foam Runners, the first American-produced Yeezy product.
Kanye ends the interview, telling Pharrell that he’s going to spend time with his family including Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott. “I’m a go eat with my wife and kids, and Kylie and Trav are coming in so you know, I’m gonna go do some family time,” he said before hanging up.