Kanye West's new album, "Yeezus," which drops June 18, was partly inspired by Le Corbusier.
In an interview with The New York Times, Kanye West said that his latest album, "Yeezus," was partially inspired by the works of Le Corbusier. (He also said, "I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body," which was hilarious.)
Our initial reaction, we admit, was surprise. But then we began to see a number of parallels between the two artists. Both dabbled in la mode, with Kanye starting a number of fashion lines over the years and Le Corbusier designing several women's outfits in the early 1950s. Both had beautiful women in their lives: Kanye is expecting with Kim Kardashian, while Corbu sketched nude Jospehine Baker (surely the Kim of her time?) in addition to marrying model Yvonne Gallis.
But more seriously now: Both artists see (or saw) themselves as fighters and agents of change in society. Kanye is certainly unafraid to set the record straight and speak his mind (remember the George-Bush-doesn't-care-about-black-people controversy?). Similarly, Corbu famously gave everyone the ultimatum "architecture or revolution."
Le Corbusier and his wife (and model) Yvonne Gallis relaxing in their bathing suits. Photo: via fondationlecorbusier.fr
According to the Times interview published Tuesday, Kanye fell for with Corbu's style while he was recording in France:
NYT: One of the things I thought when I heard the new record was, “This is the anti-'College Dropout.’ ” It feels like you’re shedding skin. Back then, you were like: “I want more sounds. I want more complicated raps. I want all the things.” At what point did that change?
West: Architecture — you know, this one Corbusier lamp was like, my greatest inspiration. I lived in Paris in this loft space and recorded in my living room, and it just had the worst acoustics possible, but also the songs had to be super simple, because if you turned up some complicated sound and a track with too much bass, it’s not going to work in that space. This is earlier this year. I would go to museums and just like, the Louvre would have a furniture exhibit, and I visited it like, five times, even privately. And I would go see actual Corbusier homes in real life and just talk about, you know, why did they design it? They did like, the biggest glass panes that had ever been done. Like I say, I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body. It’s cool to bring all those vibes and then eventually come back to Rick [Rubin], because I would always think about Def Jam.
Architecture is an interesting place to find inspiration when it comes to rap, or pop music, by any standard. Besides, West already had one kind-of foray into architecture. Could minimalist West be the Corbu of rap? The Corbu-yeezy, if you will? Below, we've paired some lyrics from Kanye songs (or collaborations) with some of Corbusier's projects for you to decide.
"No concealin', no ceiling I don't need a roof..."
- "Gone" on Late Registration (2005), featuring Cam'ron & Consequence
Corbu match: the second-floor open-air courtyard of the Villa Savoye, Poissy, France, 1931
Photo: via architectural-review.com
"Tired of being cramped up in the house/ We were simply celebrating life..."
- "Extravaganza" on Jaime Foxx's Unpredictable, ft. Kanye West
Corbu match: The Ozenfant House's spacious living room, Paris, France, 1922
Photo: via interiorclip.com
"I'm down on my mind / I'm building a city..."
- "Lost in the World" on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), ft. Bon Iver
Corbu match: The Plan Voisin for Northern Paris, Paris, France, 1925
Photo: via rosswolfe.files.wordpress.com
"But this pimp is at the top of Mount Olympus / Ready for the world's games, this is my Olympics..."
- "Gorgeous" on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), ft. Raekwon and Kid Cudi
Corbu match: Industrial Beauty and Classical Greek Beauty in Vers Une Architecture (1923)
Photo: via studyblue.com