Last Friday, Kanye West stopped by a class at L.A. Trade Technical College. He was there to serve out a court-mandated 250 hours of community service, but by the looks of things, Yeezy relished the opportunity to chop it up with young men and women about fashion, art, and music. For several hours, Kanye spoke with a mix of students from the school's digital communications department and youths who were part of a summer bridge program for students who had dropped out of high school. Photos surfaced from the class session led by a college dropout, but anyone who wasn't getting their higher education on could only speculate what knowledge was being dropped.
Because "Professor Yeezus" is too tempting of a subject to leave alone, we got in touch with a student who was in the class that Kanye taught. Andre Pitts, a 19-year-old L.A. native who's majoring in Visual Communications (which is just like graphic design, he says), spoke with us about the surreal afternoon, and what, according to him, went down in the near-two hours that Kanye led the class.
Walk me through the experience. When did this happen?
It was on Friday at about 1:30 in the afternoon. I walked into my class and…
What class was it?
Graphic design, one of the visual communications classes. It was technically a separate class from our actual program, because it was after school.
Did you know this was going to happen? Or was it a surprise?
No, none of the students knew that he was going to show up. We were asked if some students wanted to help other students with their work after class, so I agreed to try to help other students with their work.
That’s why you should always volunteer to help out other students, right? Because Kanye might show up?
I mean, nobody had any idea. All I knew is that I was gonna help other students after school with their work, and then all of a sudden Kanye walked in through the door after we were done with our presentations.
What was that like when he walked through the door?
Well my heart dropped, I didn’t believe what I was seeing. For four seconds I was like, paused. I was like, “Is that who I think it is?” After that I just started to try to pull out my phone and get a photo of him.
So once the excitement died down after he walked in, did he just start talking?
No, he walked through the door and then nobody was yelling or anything obviously, but everyone kind of just started talking to the people around them and he went over to the instructors of the class and spoke to them quietly for a minute. And then he introduced—well he didn’t introduce himself—but the teacher kind of said, “Well all of you know who this is obviously,” so then he started talking.
Did he teach you guys? What did he do?
He didn’t teach us specifically anything. He spoke about, you know, life in general and about his inspirations and whatnot.
His inspirations in music and fashion?
Both, but not so much in fashion.
How long did he speak for?
An hour and a half. Almost two hours.
That’s crazy. What do you remember him speaking about?
A lot of stuff. He was all over the place, but I mean, one of the main things he was talking about was...he was giving examples of different things and saying that having a Rolex or a Benz is not something that actually represents your success because there’s always something more expensive to buy. So, he was saying that success was really being able to do things for others as well as the people around you and yourself.
Is there anything else that really stuck with you that he made sure to emphasize as a significant point?
He was all over the place. He reminds me of my brother, the way he didn’t really stick to one thing. He talked about Tupac. He was watching the movie Juice, and he was inspired by Tupac being in the movie. He talked about how Ice Cube is one of his biggest inspirations and one of his biggest let-downs. He talked a little bit about Steve Jobs. He mentioned a little bit about how the media portrays him negatively, but he’s saying that he’s not anything negative, it’s just him being real and calling out bullshit all the time. He spoke about his grandfather, actually, and him being in Chicago, and after that it was kind of cut off short, and he had us go into questions and answers.
He did a Q&A?
Yeah and he made us shut off our cameras.
What were some questions that you guys asked?
Different people asked about what is his favorite this and that, or stuff he likes, the people he likes and the different artists he likes, and he just briefly answered like, “Yeah I like them.” People asked him about different artists, really. And then someone finally did actually ask about the Illuminati, and I don’t want to say too much because he did tell the truth this time but I don’t have it on film so I cant really back that stuff up, but he did talk about that topic. Someone asked if he listens to his own music, or if he listens to other people’s music. He said he likes to listen to his own music since he thinks he’s the best artist, still.
In the photos, he seems very passionate. Did that come across in his lecture?
He was definitely very animated, waving his arms around and stuff like that, and talking with his big voice. I can tell you, he is definitely very passionate about his fashion design, more than I knew of, and of course about his music.
Did he mention anything about his adidas collection?
He did not mention the word adidas at all.
Did he talk about the frustrations of trying to become a fashion designer?
Yes. He said that, I think it was Fendi...he was talking about when he created a design for them and they didn’t want to take it seriously because they have legitimate fashion designers there, and people who are already established doing fashion design. Well he said that he doesn’t care about his Grammys but he thinks of them as reference points. And that he can point back to them and say, “I’ve proven that I can do this, so I should be able to do this.” So that’s what he was trying to get out, that he feels that he is able to do these things but that he’s being shot down by the fashion industry.
I saw on your Twitter that you tweeted at him and said that you’re just inspired by him coming into the class. How did he inspire your work as an artist?
Simply by him being there and what he was saying about life and success and different things like that, it inspired me to push myself to be the best designer I can be, so that way I can bring success to myself and the people around me. And to work hard at what I do and to never give up and think that I can’t become something because someone else is already doing it or someone might think it’s stupid or not good. It inspired me to look at the world differently.
Did he have any advice for your class because you’re all aspiring artists and designers to try and break through and make it?
Not necessarily. Although that would’ve been good. I think he didn’t know what to say because the class was a little mixed up. It wasn’t all specific fashion designers so he couldn’t give out that kind of advice, so he didn’t really say anything like that.
Did he talk about his new album?
Someone asked him about that, he said he’s waiting on it. He didn’t say anything else except that except that he’s waiting for it to come out.
What was your reaction like after he left?
I was still shocked about what happened when he left. I felt a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t prepared. I felt that if I would’ve been told a day before I would’ve brought my actual camera. But you know, I feel like I’m gonna see him again so I wasn’t that upset. I was still kinda happy on the inside that I got to meet him. I’m only 19 but I’ve been listening to him since I was younger, so it was a surreal feeling.
Well now you can say, “Yeezy taught me.”
“Yeezy taught me?” What do you mean?