Holy Powers. Austin Powers. We all know who Mr. West is…
Creative genius. Asshole.
Whichever side you take, you cannot denounce the accomplishments he’s worked for to push the culture forward. Kanye is one of the most awarded artists of all time. 21 Grammy awards and over 21 million albums sold worldwide. There is no denying his success as an artist, but has his journey in entrepreneurship flourished in the same way?
DONDA is Kanye’s creative agency he started back in 2011, named after his late mother. His ambitions were out the roof, but knowing Kanye that doesn’t suprise any of us.
Back in 2011, he tweeted: “We want to create, advertise and produce products driven equally by emotional want and utilitarian need.” To this day, his agency has created album artwork for the likes of Big K.R.I.T., Pusha T, John Legend, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Travis $cott, A$AP Rocky, and Lil Wayne. They have also created content for G.O.O.D Music in magazine articles such as Complex. DONDA has even designed stage sets for Kanye’s and Drake’s recent tours.
DONDA MOVING FORWARD
The only issue here is DONDA has no actual established brand. Yes, they are a creative company and have been quite successful in their creative ventures. But, they still haven’t managed to create something HUGE for the world. As of this year, there really has been no evolution for DONDA. Maybe this is just another accolade Kanye created to add to his resume, but, how can he build this brand to a higher status, a higher meaning? Here’s what labelmate Big Sean had to say about working with DONDA:
Andres Nichols, a DONDA partner, who does marketing consultancy for Prophet, explains that the vision of DONDA needs to be more tangible for the public. He stated that “I tried to find a Web site. I couldn’t find any. He needs to formalize the vision of the company if he wants to expand to a broader consumer.” The DONDA office in New York does not even exist anymore.
Take a look at the Big Sean and DONDA collaboration for “Beware”:
THE FUTURE OF DONDA
Where does that leave the entrepreneur Kanye West as of late? In the New York Times last year, Kanye let all of us know where he stands:
“I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people, this is the level that things could be at. So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it’s supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.”
The only thing left open-ended here was “I will be the leader of a company…worth billions of dollars. Was he referring to DONDA or Kanye West—the brand? I feel strongly that he still is trying to find his voice in ventures as an entrepreneur with DONDA.
…just like Sway, we also don’t have those specific answers either.
EGO VS PRODUCT
In interview with W Magazine, Kanye expressed that “On one end, I try to scale it [his narcissism] back…Because I don’t want to close any of the doors needed to create the best product possible. But my ego is my drug. My drug, ‘I’m better than all you other mother*ckers. Kiss my ass!’” One thing we can take from this is the struggle of his ego and bravado affecting the product he wants to push out to the consumers.
KANYE ON GAGA DEAL WITH POLAROID
In his infamous interview with Zane Lowe, Kanye gave his opinion on celebrities that are creative directors. “Look at Gaga, she’s the creative director of Polaroid. I like some of the Gaga songs. What the f*ck does she know about cameras?” He does bring up a valid point and references this further in a Cannes interview this year, stating that Alicia Keys had no place in being the creative director of Blackberry.
THE COMPETITION OF CREATIVITY
On the issue of creativity and setting yourself apart from the competition, he sat down last year with Los Angeles’ 97.1 AMP Radio to lay out his opinion. He stated that “It’s mixing creativity with the fight like an athlete. Like it’s okay for the athletes to fight and push it, but they want the creative people to shut-up and be quiet. But these are the people with the real ideas that can actually change, can reorganize, can design cities, can restructure a curriculum, you know, can make life easier. And that’s the part of the game I want to be in: the making life more awesome.”
CREATIVITY IN TECH
This year’s Cannes Lions Creativity Conference hosted Steve Stoute, Ben Horowitz, and Kanye West as a special guest. This conference gave Kanye the platform to express his opinions on tech in today’s age. In his opinion on the internet and apps, he states that “everyone spends all of their time looking at their screens or their phones. And just as a simple task, we could clean that up.”
The truth is, DONDA is up in the air right now. It seems like Kanye is focusing on Kanye, which is normal. He has made it clear that he wants to leave his mark on this world in a huge way.
Some ventures may not become successes, but you need to go through those experiences to evolve as a person—to become a better you and to be able to change the world from what YOU love, not what the people want. You need to formalize your brand to get your name out to the public. The vision has to be clear and focused—if it isn’t, then it’s back to step one.
We live in a world in which it’s difficult for creatives like us to prosper.
But, we are all on the cusp of winning.
It’s the reason why Blavity was created. We need to come together collectively in order to truly change the world. It’s people like Kanye that keeps us believing, pushing, and creating. He’s a role model and inspiring entrepreneur, whether you like him or not.
Cover Photo via Flickr: Christopher Garcia
Be sure to check our continually updated Kanye archive on Blavity.com.