Kanye’s Reality Distortion Field

Kanye West often likens himself to the late Steve Jobs. He’s not wrong to do so.

“I want to do product, I am a product person. Not just clothing but water bottle design, architecture. I make music but I shouldn’t be limited to once place of creativity. I hang around architects mostly. People that wanna make things as dope as possible.” —Kanye West on BBC Radio 1

It is 4:49 PM on a Wednesday afternoon and I am very, very excited.


I just signed up for the opportunity to buy tickets to Kanye West’s New York Fashion Week live stream, slated to be shown in a local Atlanta movie theater tomorrow night. I can’t say for sure if I’ll be selected to purchase said tickets, but the possibility alone is titillating.

Pairs great with Lululemon and Starbucks.

Let’s say that ordering tickets is a mad grab, but somehow I make it. Awesome, right? Because then I’ll have bought two tickets (they’re sold as pairs) to see a simulcast of the Kanye West unveiling the fruition of his collaboration with Adidas: the Yeezy 750 Boost.

What then? Well, the shoe is set to actually hit shelves on Valentine’s Day. That means I, along with thousands of other fans, will be dropping roughly $350 on those bad boys. Blasphemous comparisons to UGGs be darned, I’m copping. Happy Valentine’s to me.

Does any of this fervor sounds familiar? The appearance of exclusivity, the rush, the frenzy, not to mention the price tags? Very few products are able to produce such deep-seated lust within consumers. The prime example of this breed of alpha product is, of course, the Apple iPhone.

Apple’s latest offerings, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, sold 10 million units their first weekend. As per usual, folks lined the streets in order to be the very first to own the latest iPhone. Many commentators have attributed this ravenous consumption to Apple’s “reality distortion field”.

The term was originally coined in 1981 to describe Steve Job’s ability to “convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence.” Tim Cook successfully reproduced this effect most recently at the unveiling of the Apple Watch.

While the iPhone is undoubtedly a great product, Jobs’ influence on culture’s receptiveness to the device is impossible to ignore. Likewise, Kanye’s polarizing persona is very much responsible for the attention his new shoe has received and his street style for the its high-fashion credibility.

So while Kanye’s signature rants (speeches?) often come off a bit grandiose, it’s almost certainly because he has been busy studying grand people. Now we’re lining up, cash in hand, to see him put his learnings into practice.

“When I compare myself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, David Stern, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Jesus… these are my heroes. This is the type of impact I want to make on the earth.” —Kanye West on Jimmy Kimmel Live
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