Everyone’s a critic. Kanye West, himself famously opinionated, has been the subject of much recent social media jawing as fans take his new YEEZY hoodies and sneakers to task.
Weirdly, his architectural taste has proven to be uncontroversially well-received. I don’t entirely understand why.
Don’t misunderstand: whoever’s doing Kanye’s interior design knows what’s up.
No, I’m more at odds with the recent goings-ons of Kanye’s real estate portfolio.
For one, that new 4,000 sq.ft Malibu home he just acquired: much love to Tadao Ando but the $57.3 million that Kanye coughed up for this bomb shelter is just out of pocket.
It’s pretty enough, especially with that woodsy furniture, but the reality is it’s a seaside concrete slab that looks as welcoming as a, well, concrete slab. “Bunker boy,” indeed.
And I get that Kanye loves Ando’s work enough to live in it. But there’s something to be said about enjoying art from a distance, rather than setting up shop inside it, especially when it runs the risk of eroding out from underneath you.
The magic of Ando’s “Church of Light” exists at least in part because you aren’t sitting inside it 24/7.
Visitors experience those short-lived moments of perfect light, reflect on the space’s intentionality, and briefly savor. They aren’t moving in!
Then again, Kanye probably won’t occupy his new crib all that often given that he has a spread of other properties to lounge around in, which has me in some kind of weird, critical limbo: is it better to be there all the time, soaking in the space, or to only pop in on occasion?
Perhaps Kanye only acquired the Ando-designed house for his portfolio. If that’s the case, it wasn’t exactly a bargain: $57.3 million is a fair shake lower than the pre-COVID $75 sought by its former owner but it’s still the second-highest purchase price paid for a Malibu abode this year.
The guy’s got plenty of places, anyways.
For instance, even after he sells one of his Wyoming estates — Monster Lake Ranch — he’s still got Bighorn Mountain Ranch, another sprawling property located mere miles away.
But let’s slow down for a second: Kanye’s losing millions by trying to sell Monster Lake for $11m.
Remember, this is nearly 4,000 acres of… nothing.
I mean, there’s a lot of land but only one bedroom and two bedrooms in the actual building. Yes, there’s a go-kart track (!), fishing holes (well, one big hole), and ample terrain for horse-riding but given the expense, this isn’t exactly luxuriant living.
Sitting here in my tiny NYC apartment, a giant Wyoming ranch does sound immensely peaceful, I’ll admit.
But once you take in the awe-inspiring environs, what do you do for the rest of the time you live there? Especially as a billionaire, one who could easily jet off to any country on the planet.
Furthermore, Kanye’s already got Bighorn Mountain, why’s he also need Monster Lake? And who’s gonna cough up $11 million clams to own a tiny one-bedroom set amidst rocks and water?
Judging by the listing photos, I’d guess a few good ol’ fisherman types would be down if they’ve got the scratch.
To be fair, I might be a little presumptive in assuming that a wealthy guy who’s always on the move and staying in fancy hotels is buying places for logical reasons.
As far as fanciful homes go, it doesn’t get more unorthodox than Kanye’s pre-fab YEEZY HOME domes, which may actually be called YZY SHLTRS. Still not sure about that.
It’s good of Kanye to be putting his wealth to use conceiving of readymade homes for those without — and it gives him reason to use all that empty space, I suppose — but the idea still seems half-baked even a few years after the initial development.
These things take time but given Kanye’s own predilection for flash over function, I don’t have a ton of faith. Happy to be proven wrong though!
That’s the thing though. Kanye is all about the style over substance.
I won’t deny that he has great taste, whether it’s in terms of style or architects.
Yeezy’s an objectively iconoclastic, cultured guy. People wanna dress, act, and live like him, and it’s not cuz he’s boring.
But rich people should be interesting. Especially if they’re tastemakers — like Kanye — they ought to surround themselves with cool types who push their taste forward by interacting with culture and creatives.
If that means style over substance, so be it. Not everyone’s gonna like Kanye’s music or houses but there’ll be plenty that do simply because he co-signed it.
And that’s fine. Really, my only beef is that his properties end up being so surface level instead of next level.
I’ve been pretty surprised that Kanye has resolutely stuck to brutalist themes. The style is great, don’t get me wrong, but it looks cheap without that a studied eye for quiet luxury.
So, if Kanye’s real estate isn’t gonna break boundaries, it ought to at least be interesting on his own terms.
We all know he’s barely gonna live in each place — Kim Kardashian didn’t even use her own swimming pool, for god’s sake — so why not get his buddy Elon to build a flying house or something?
“I think I use art as a superpower to protect myself in a capitalistic world,” West once said. Maybe that’s why his properties are so shelter-like and drab.
Still, you’d think the fun guy who gave us “Lift Yourself” or the spiritual guy who made Jesus Is King would want to live in something more interesting than a concrete hunk or empty ranch.