Kanye West’s New Workout Plan For The Creative Class: DONDA


Last night Kanye West thrillingly returned to Twitter in a blaze of glory, sending out a series of 140-character missives over the course of a few hours that outlined recent happenings in his life (firing his agent; getting in a snit over creative differences while in negotiations to work on the filmed adaptation of The Jetsons) and his vision for the future. He confessed that he hadn’t bought any new jewelry or cars because he instead wanted to pursue his artistic dreams. He had an existential crisis about the Grammys. He talked about his problems with French taxation rules.

But the bulk of his chatter was about DONDA, the new design-it-all company that he’s founding—and he offered his 5.9 million followers a chance to work side-by-side with him, provided they were skilled in one of, well, many professions.

I am assembling a team of architects, graphic designers, directors musicians, producers, AnRs, writers, publicist, social media experts, app guys, managers, car designers, clothing designers, DJs, video game designers, publishers, tech guys, lawyers, bankers, nutritionist, doctors, scientist,teachers. DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford. I want to put creatives in a room together with like minds that are all waaaay doper than me. We want to help simplify and aesthetically improve everything we see hear, touch, taste and feel… To dream of, create, advertise and produce products driven equally by emotional want and utilitarian need.. To marry our wants and needs.

And lest you think he was kidding about needing people, he put up a contact address: Voice contributor Jay Smooth has already thrown his hat into the ring. Will you? (Hint: I bet the first person to email in and offer their assistance with answering emails will get shoved to the front of the application line! Also, he kept being bashful about his not-quite-perfect grammar, so it might behoove those copyeditors in waiting out there to drop a line as well.)

You know, I think this is great. In his other messages, Kanye talked about how he was plowing all the money he’d been making into this endeavor, and those messages, brief as they were, dripped with the sort of passion that makes him one of the most compelling figures in culture—not just pop music, but culture as a whole. You can see that he’s an optimist, someone who wants the world to be right in a fundamental way; that impulse is behind so many of his outbursts, from his real talk about President George W. Bush during the Katrina telethon to what he referred to last night as “the ‘MTV’ moment” to his bragging about jogging in Lanvin to his own exhibitions of self-consciousness. Of course, it’s why so many people really really dislike him, but that sort of strong reaction is to be expected in this moment’s low-pH environment.

So making “products driven equally by emotional want and utilitarian need” is absolutely in line with that, and it sounds like a much more useful goal than the circle-jerk vaporware touted by 90% of the vowelless Internet startups that are having money poured into them by clueless venture capitalists these days. And if those places can hire creatives for brief periods of time, even if their business models will go up in smoke faster than you can say “boo dot com,” why can’t someone with a proven track record of success in multiple media, especially the more-crucial-than-ever “attention game”?