Kanye West: Glass ceiling challenging for black artists

  • 24 September 2013
  • From the section Music
Kanye West and Zane Lowe

Kanye West has said he has experienced "glass ceilings" as a black musician, fashion designer and businessman.

In an interview with Zane Lowe on Radio 1, the rapper credited Michael Jackson with breaking down barriers for black artists in the music industry.

"I would not be Kanye West if it wasn't for Michael Jackson. He had to fight to get his video played because he was black," said the 36-year-old.

"For me and my life and creativity, it's been challenging," he added.

"I was able to ascend to heights because of the foundation that my mother and my father and my grandfather laid through civil rights."

Kanye West on the front row at New York Fashion Week
Kanye West was photographed regularly on the front row at New York Fashion Week

He also thanked mentor and collaborator Jay Z for supporting his career.

"Me as Kanye West, a young revolutionary coming out of Chicago, wouldn't have made it without Jay-Z as my big brother, watching my back."

Also known for his fashion ranges and product lines, which include a Nike shoe collaboration and shows at Paris Fashion Week, Kanye said he has struggled to be taken seriously.

"T-shirts, that's the most we can make," he said, arguing that the fashion industry has not supported him as a black designer.

Earlier this month the musician was charged with battery and attempted theft over a fight with a photographer at Los Angeles Airport in July.

Jay Z and Kanye West
Kanye spoke to Zane about his admiration for mentor and collaborator Jay Z

He explained to Zane what it was like to experience attention from the media and paparazzi.

"Paparazzi is necessary, not even a necessary evil, it just needs to be legalised, meaning at a certain point there's cut-off switches.

"They're selling our image and they're selling it in a bad way.

"I'm changing things for my daughter and I'm going to tell my daughter by the time she understands what it was, 'Me and your mother were in a completely different situation than you're in.

"'You see all this cheques you're getting age six because people are taking your picture, you don't have to worry about a thing ever again just because people want to take your picture, and I made that happen Nori.'"

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

Speaking more about his relationship with reality star Kim Kardashian the New Slaves singer said she'd had a positive effect on his life.

"She gave me everything. She gave me a family. She gave me a support system.

"She was in a powerful enough situation, where she could love me without asking me for money, which is really hard for me to find."

Despite speaking in depth about his fashion and business aspirations, the Radio 1 interview was also part of his promotional tour for his latest album Yeezus.

Released in June, having already been leaked online, it topped the charts in the US, UK Australia and Canada, giving Kanye his sixth consecutive number one album.

"Rap is the new rock 'n' roll. We are the real rock stars and I'm the biggest of all of them. I'm the number one rock star on the planet."

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