As the Yeezus tour continues, so do the Kanye West rants.
In the latest diatribe, Kanye took shots at Nike's CEO, Mark Parker. Here's the abridged version from Brooklyn's Barclay Center last night:
"They let me sip that clean water when they let me make them Yeezys, and they saw how the universe reacted. They tried to make it as small as possible. Mark Parker even talked shit, talking 'bout he don't even know why people like the Yeezys. They liked them like they liked the Jordans because I was in fourth grade getting kicked out for drawing Jordans, for being connected to that emotion as a creative."
Kanye's latest sneaker with Nike, the Air Yeezy II "Red October," is speculated to drop in the foreseeable future, so this rant comes at an interesting time. Kanye has proclaimed that the Yeezy has jumped over the Jumpman, and his sneakers have generated an organic buzz within the culture. Parker's disapproval—or inability to realize why kids are losing their minds over a Kanye West-designed Nike sneaker—continues Kanye's plight to gain legitimacy as a designer.
A larger Kanye x Nike project could potentially displace Jordan as Nike's top-selling point. He's one of pop culture's most captivating figures, and it's not hard to draw a conclusion that this rant could sever Kanye's relationship with Nike and leave the Red October as the crescendo in the Air Yeezy legacy.
What would this mean to sneakerheads? The Red Octobers have caused the most hype out of the Yeezy series, and a repeat of this formula would be hard to recreate, even for Kanye. But Mark Parker is someone with serious respect in the sneaker world, he's not viewed as a passive head honcho of the world's largest sneaker brand. His design collaborative HTM—comprised of himself, Hiroshi Fujiwara, and Tinker Hatfield—has designed sneakers with arguably an equal influence on Nike's legacy and status within limited-edition sneakers. Which, at the least, gives him the opportunity to critique a sneaker down to its core design elements. Maybe he wasn't feeling the Yeezys, and that's OK.
Still, as the CEO of the brand, Parker has the responsibility to foster an environment where pushing the envelope is praised—which includes using rappers as the key selling point to a $200+ sneaker. Kanye has said that he has new sneaker project with a "big brand" in the works, and it's possible that Kanye found a more nurturing environment that lets him express his ideas.
Kanye is the self-proclaimed Michael Jordan of music - not just rap music. If he's given the right opportunity to create a large-scale sneaker collection, there would be unprecedented levels of hype. But like many of Kanye's past projects, we probably won't know it until we see it.