In its approximately 919 years of existence, Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of the crown jewels of the British educational system, has hosted everyone from the greatest geniuses in human history to an actor who made his career playing a power-mad boy-king within its walls. Its newest guest speaker was a little of both, as Kanye West took to the lectern to deliver a lesson in Yeezeology 101 yesterday.
The lecture began with Kanye instructing the crowd to keep absolutely silent, lest they disturb what someone in the hip-hop community might refer to as his “flow.” (It’s a technical term.) “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,” he said.
And he delivered, providing some of the best, illest quotes a pop-culture publication could ask for, combining shameless name dropping (“Call Elon Musk out of the blue, or call Obama out of the blue…he calls the home phone, by the way”) with a tirade against consumerism punctuated with an acknowledgement that yes, he was wearing a $2,000 shirt while arguing that shirts shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars, but he got it for free from the designer so it’s okay:
We’ve been sold a concept of joy through advertising, through car advertising, through fashion branding. It’s not the concept of time, time with your family, time with your friends, the little time that we do have on earth and what we do with that. It was somehow sold to us through a Gucci bag or something. 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.
West’s lecture touched on how he thinks The Matrix is “like the Bible of the post-information age,” how Drake and, of course, Beyonce are awesome, and that “We have the ability to approach our race like ants, or we have the ability to approach our race like crabs,” whatever that means.
He also acknowledged that, yes, Nicki Minaj did out-rap him on “Monster” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and that it was very humbling for him to be “outshined…to be beat by a girl, basically.” But it was all just part of Kanye’s personal journey to become super rich and the best in the world but also just a kid from Chicago who thinks things should be free and that, “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.”
The full, highly readable text of Kanye’s lecture can be read here.