Rich rapper Kanye West criticizes luxury industry

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(CNN) — Kanye West, the multi-millionaire rap star designer of $350 haute couture shoes, has a lot to say about luxury.

And he's very critical.

West – who Forbes said made $30 million last year – spoke out against the high-end world in a lecture at Oxford University on Tuesday. At the same time, he admitted the shirt on his back was probably worth $2,000, but he wasn't certain because "I got it for free from the designer."

His musings ranged from class division to the emptiness of advertising and the unfairness of overpriced luxury goods. He also criticized the late Steve Jobs -- his "favorite person" -- for being selfish and not sharing his technical brilliance with fellow innovator Elon Musk.

Yeezy's words were reported and transcribed by Oxford's student paper The Tab.

On Jobs and Musk:

Tesla founder Elon Musk shook the tech world when he announced his company's technology would be available for free to others -- a revolutionary idea. West said Steve Jobs of Apple should have done the same thing with his ideas before his death, because "the humanity that I talk about, this civilization that I talk about, this future utopia I talk about, it can only happen through collaboration."

"I love Steve Jobs, he's my favorite person, but there's one thing that disappoints me. When Steve passed he didn't give the idea up. That's kinda selfish. You know that Elon [Musk]'s like, 'Yeah, take these ideas.'

"Maybe there are companies outside of Apple that could work on them and push humanity forward. Maybe the stock brokers won't like that, the stock holders wouldn't like that idea, but ideas are free and you can't be selfish with them."

On luxury:

Despite his penchant for luxury goods – like the shirt he wore to Oxford – West has become a critic of the luxury industry.

"In America, people really do wear $3,000 shirts. For real.

"Here and in Stockholm people will be like, 'Oh dude, it's a $3,000 shirt.' I'm assuming I'm probably wearing a $2,000 shirt but I got it for free from the designer, so.

"We've been sold a concept of joy through advertising, through car advertising, through fashion branding. It's not the concept of time, time with your family, time with your friends, the little time that we do have on earth and what we do with that. It was somehow sold to us through a Gucci bag or something. Time is the only luxury."

On the middle class:

Everyone should have access to the high-end world, West said.

"It's illegal to not wear clothes, and also possibly too cold. That means someone is imposing an idea on you that [you] should legally have to do!

"Clothing should be like food. There should never be a $5,000 sweater. You know what should cost $5,000? A car should be $5,000. And you know who should work on the car? The people that work on the $500,000 cars.

"All the best talent in the world needs to work for the people. And I am so f--cking serious about this concept that I will stand in front of anyone and fight for it. Because I was 14 and middle class. I know what it felt like to not get what I have."

West's other musings

He also claimed that racism is more or less "done," and that the societal problems that continue to divide people are classism, elitism and separatism.

West's ramblings began with a request: total silence, because anything less could interrupt his freestyle.

"Everyone please be completely quiet, because I can literally hear a whisper, and it'll throw off my stream of consciousness, and when I get my stream of consciousness going that's when I give the best, illest quotes," he said.

"Literally, a whisper can throw it off."

This story was first published on, "Kanye's world: Class, luxury and Steve Jobs."