Channeling Kanye West sounds like mission impossible for even the best and brightest of PR superstars. Until recently, the rap impresario has pretty much enjoyed a life unfiltered—one where the universally accepted rules of public relations don’t seem to apply.
Who else could have survived publicity disasters like his shocking hijack of Taylor Swift’s 2009 VMA acceptance speech, or his numerous New York Fashion Week debacles, especially his “Yeezy Season Four” event where models actually fainted on the red-hot (literally!) outdoor Roosevelt Island run way. And who else could get away with such provocative lyrics from his latest album, YE, as “I could have Naomi Campbell, and still want me a Stormy Daniels” and still have a viable career (or a marriage to a very understanding Kim Kardashian)?
Speaking of Stormy Daniels, let’s not forget Kanye’s latest political comments, including his negative tweet criticizing former President Barack Obama, while praising current President Donald Trump in the same day. (Maybe it had something to do with Obama calling him a “jack-ass” after he rudely interrupted Swift’s above-mentioned speech?) Channeling Kanye West indeed!
All of the histrionics just seem to come with the rap megastar territory. In fact, I’ve often wondered if some of Kanye’s controversial remarks and outrageous antics aren’t completely calculated, even though they always appear to be candid and spontaneous. As he said to Rolling Stone in 2006, “If I was more complacent and I let things slide, my life would be easier, but you all wouldn’t be as entertained.”
Improvised or not, I don’t think Kanye expected the intense hostile reaction he received for his bizarre, borderline racist rants about slavery during his TMZ meltdown on May 1. (Interestingly enough, TMZ’s Harvey Levin said after the fact, “I think he got revved up because there was an audience here”—once again suggesting that the whole thing was an act.)
I think the TMZ incident is probably what prompted Kanye’s LinkedIn posting for a publicist on May 15. In particular, I find it fascinating that the post says: “We are interested in hiring an in-house publicist who will be responsible for all PR matters relating to Yeezy and Kanye West as a public figure.”
So, he expects the same publicist to strategically manage the massive quantity of media inquiries he regularly receives for himself, smooth the waters when Kanye churns up a PR storm, field coverage of his events and personal appearances, and at the same time, aggressively promote his popular fashion brand around the world? Forget a publicist; he should hire The Incredibles.
Unfortunately, the post says they are no longer accepting applications; I can only imagine how many they received over the past three weeks. I look forward to learning who snags this once-in-a-lifetime position. In the meantime, I give you my somewhat jaded impression, based on my own adventures in Hollywood, of what channeling Kanye West looks like for that one lucky PR pro:
Channeling Kanye West: Must-Have Mad Skillz
- Multitasking Octopus: Must have eight arms to handle the tasks.
- Schizophrenic Mind-reader: Must be able to not only predict what Kanye will say before he says it, but to say it for him when he’s not available.
- Kanyesplainer: Must be able to reposition everything Kanye says and does in a positive light.
- Snake Charmer: When the above repositioning fails, must be able to hypnotize reporters into writing feel-good stories. (If the bad reviews for YE are any indication, this particular skill needs to be moved ASAP to the top of the heap.)
- Multi Media Playa: Channeling Kanye West is going to require global connections with journalists in every arena—music, fashion, pop culture, entertainment, politics…and possibly Miss Manners.
- Rap Linguist: Must be able to translate everything from insider hip hop lyrics to trendy streetwear fashion terms.
- Shadow Twitter Feeder: Must be able to authentically impersonate Kanye’s singular Twitter voice.
Channeling Kanye West: Bonus Skillz
- Strong personal fashion sense
- Ability to rhyme
- Ability to function on 15 minutes of sleep per night
- Talent for contortionism
- Babysitting experience
- Daily (hourly?) meditation practice
The line for channeling Kanye West formed on the left. Or the right. Or wherever Yeezy was at the moment. And while we wait for the official press release announcing his hire, I would love your thoughts in the comments section. Who do you think is up for this monumental task and why?
Finally, don’t forget to watch the Wests battle the Kardashians on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud this Sunday, June 10. Survey says that’s publicity you can’t leave to just any ‘ol PR person to handle!