Late Registration: How Kanye West Ended Up At Harvard This Past Weekend

The public has been exposed to many sides of Kanye West: the drunken, speech-stealer; the broken-hearted, ranter and more recently, the eloquent, design stanatic. The third reared its smiley head this past weekend at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to speak with a tight group of grad students from the African American Student Union (AASU). With some of his closest confidants from his creative agency DONDA (i.e. Virgil Abloh) and his fiancé Kim Kardashian by his side, West was like a sugar-feening toddler in a candy store, giddy to speak about anything but his music, President Obama and the confederate flag.

"I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be 'architected,'" West said, according to Archinect. "And this is the reason why even some of the first DONDA employees were architects that started designing t-shirts instead of buildings."

Though not an Ivy League graduate (he graduated from Chicago's Polaris High School in Oak Lawn), the Yeezus rapper was able to tickle the minds of future architects, a.k.a. the besties he's always wanted. (He even made like Oprah and gifted the entire office with tickets to his Yeezus show that night in Boston.)

For those hovering over Ticketmaster.com waiting to cop front rowers for a possible DONDA design lecture series, AASU's Co-President Tessa Kanene said there was no whisper made of it. "Kanye made absolutely no mention of taking this to other schools," she tells VIBE. "This was a private meeting set up directly from our student-led African American Student Union through a personal contact and was never relayed to us as part of the Donda Design Lecture Series."

Bummers aside, VIBE consulted with several of members of the AASU to discuss how 'Ye's visit was no scheme of grand design. —As Told To Adelle Platon

Sumaia Alamoudi: I was working at my desk on the 5th tray (highest floor) when I heard a commotion and headed down to see a herd of students forming on the mezzanine. Only a few of GSD's AASU members knew Kanye was coming. The general student body did not expect to have such an eventful Sunday night in studio.

Tessa Kaneene: The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union wrote a personal letter to Kanye West through a group contact in response to a series of interviews that Kanye had delivered referencing his growing interest in design, and his expanse of the race as an artist in the United States. He came for a closed, private meeting where we had a 2-hour conversation. The video was when he went to our entire workspace, what we call the trades, and he’s sitting on a desk, addressing an entire school of 300 people that were working.

KL: The studio visit was really quick, but I basically just explained the studio premises and showed him the models [designed by] me and my classmates. He was quiet and nodded a lot, and seemed really interested and engaged in our process of discovery and experimentation through the making of physical models. His presence completely shook up the GSD and his energy was so infectious!

Fred Thwainy: I was most struck by how genuine both Kanye and Kim seemed to be. Kanye had a permanent smile that was very contagious throughout his visit and they did not seemed bothered by the growing crowd. It was also satisfying to have someone with such cultural influence be excited about the work we do.

Kayla Lim (gave Kanye West the studio tour): His speech made me feel like design is important. As architects, we often feel under appreciated; we aren't artists and we aren't technicians but live somewhere in between those two worlds. I believe the world can be saved through design, and it's great to know that Kanye, a man with a powerful and influential voice feels the same way.

TK: It was strictly about the empowerment of design for underrepresented minorities in design. It was sparked by a very startling fact that has empowered our group. This is our second year being re-activated as a group and we are developed on the premise that right now in the United States only 1% of licensed architects are African Americans. We find this to be a huge concern when 13% of the population is African American. In terms of accessibility to education, appreciation in the field and the opportunity to have a license in architecture, we feel there’s a big gap, both in representation, respect and celebration, and [want to] form a platform for diverse designers to reach the success of someone of Harvard University or someone of Kanye West's [status].

SA: I appreciate Kanye acknowledging that such change may not be best enacted by those who can not genuinely empathize with the current state of affairs. As a designer, I do believe that design has the potential to alter the future, if not in one grand sweep but many small thoughtful advances in our everyday reality. Many of us would not have spent the better part of our 20s invested in the education of an under appreciated profession otherwise. I was pleased to learn that Kanye understands the commitment it takes to truly understand and hopefully master the principles of effective design.

TK: It was quite a magical collaboration between two very distinct groups that have dealt with many similar issues and that have been able to create a voice, and now, this idea to really spread campaigns, to change the face of design, and to use design in revolutionary ways to change the world. And that’s why Kanye came here, because that mission he’s on is so powerful that he has no choice but to respond.

Photo Credit: Instagram

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'Queen Sono' Will Be The First African Original Series To Stream On Netflix

Netflix caught some flack over the weekend after it was reported the streaming behemoth shelled out a smooth $100 million to keep the 90s sitcom Friends. However, staying committed to original content IOL Entertainment reports Netflix will take on it first African series.

Titled Queen Sono, actress Pearl Thusi (pictured above at the 2019 Global Citizens festival) will star in the dramedy which finds Thusi portraying a spy motivated to help the lives of her South Africans, while dealing with highs and lows of a personal relationship.

Netflix's Vice President of International Originals Kelly Luegenbiehl who's in charge of content in Europe and Africa expressed excitement over Queen Sono.

"We love the team behind the show, [and] we're passionate about coming in and doing something that feels fresh and different. It's really exciting for us," she said. "Their point of view and creating a strong female character was really something that also really drew us to it.

Erik Barmack, also with Netflix, said Queen Sono is just the first of many to depict life in Africa.

"Over time our roots will get deeper in Africa and South Africa, and we're moving pretty quickly to that now, and plan to invest more in local content," he said.

READ MORE: Africa's Rising Youth Population Might Face A Job Crisis

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Kevin Winter

Fans Shut Down Beyonce Cultural Appropriation Allegations

Beyonce is the latest celebrity to be accused of cultural appropriation after she was spotted at an Indian wedding on Sunday (Dec. 9). Despite some assertions, the BeyHive is swooping in to set the record straight about their queen.

According to reports, Beyonce performed at an early wedding celebration in India's western Rajasthan state. She was celebrating the nuptials of Isha Ambani – the 27-year old daughter of Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani – and Anand Piramal, the 33-year old son of another Indian billionaire.


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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:47am PST

The early festivities, which is custom for Indian marriages, welcomed a handful of celebrity guests including Hillary Clinton, Bollywood stars, businessman, and more.

The controversy surrounding Beyonce sparked after the singer shared an image of herself wearing an extravagant, pink and gold dress with seemingly traditional, Indian accessories, including a headpiece and bracelets. Some critics immediately assumed Bey was culturally appropriating Indian or Hindi culture, but suggested it would go unnoticed due to her social status.

Fans however, shut the allegations down, noting that she was actually paying homage to the culture. They also stated that she was invited to perform at the party by a prominent Indian family and therefore, should be dressed appropriately.

This wouldn't be the first time Beyonce has been accused of cultural appropriation of Indian culture. She was hit with similar allegations following the release of the music video for "Hymn for the Weekend" with Coldplay.

Join the discussion and check out the debate below.

Screaming!!!!! pic.twitter.com/nTLSWeRhGJ

— lah-juh (@fabuLaja) December 10, 2018

why are fake wokes on twitter accusing beyonce for doing cultural appropriation ? IT'S APPRECIATION YOU MFs !! y'all don't know shit about indian culture !! literally sit tf down, even indians aren't mad why are you dumbasses shoving it down our throats as if yall know better

— anupama (@taysmoonchiId) December 9, 2018

Beyonce wearing Indian clothes to an Indian Cultural Event is not cultural appropriation. She was invited by an Indian family and everyone there is wearing Indian clothes. So. https://t.co/mTvsa911i4

— Ivan (@taexty) December 10, 2018

As someone who is half-Indian and half-Pakistani (aka fully South Asian for those who are not geographically inclined), I do not want to see ANYONE shouting nonsense about Beyoncé and cultural appropriation unless you are South Asian too. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk x

— Shehnaz Khan (@shehnazkhan) December 10, 2018

Ppl commenting on @Beyonce’s IG Indian outfit post, saying it was cultural appropriation, need to have a seat. Embracing another’s culture and shedding positivity on it is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural appreciation. Damn keyboard warriors

— Ramon Salas (@ramonssalas) December 10, 2018

Beyoncé was invited to an indian wedding, to perform there, she's appreciating the culture and the people that invited her There's no cultural appropriation here

— 🅚 (@chainedfenty) December 10, 2018

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Paras Griffin

Tyrese, Usher And Others Reacts To Jacquees' Claim That He's The King Of R&B

Jacquees has made a bold statement that's ruffled a few feathers.

The Cash Money artist took to social media over the weekend to assert that he's the king of R&B, and from what we can gather, the 23 singer wasn't talking about ribs and barbeque. "I just want to let everybody know that I'm the king of R&B right now, for this generation. I understand who done came and who done did that and that, but now it's my turn. Jacquees, the king." he said.

Some of the Internet raised its digital eyebrow at the boast, while others paid it no attention. Tyrese, however, didn't take kindly to the assertation.

"Ima keep it stack with you," the Transformers star posted. "The young kings of this generation that's been running sh*t since day one are Chris Brown and Trey Songz."

The soul singer continued and accused the Decatur, GA native of employing Tekashi 6ix 9ine tactics. "You got this out of the Tekashi 6ix9ine playbook. Stop trolling, my ni**a. Get back in the booth."

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How Sway..? How.??......... The way we ALL reacted.......... Let me put you up on what’s really movin bruh.. This ain’t Hip Hop my nigha.. You can’t come in this game get hot for a year then try an #T69 nighas and throw that there word #KING around..... Imma keep it a stack with you... The young kings of your generation that’s #been runnin shit is 1 @chrisbrownofficial and 2 @treysongz .... BIG facts! FYI the last real R&B album through and through that has the integrity and blueprint of the culture that was made with NO skips was #ThreeKings you got this out of the T69 play book stop trolling my nigha get back in the booth.....

A post shared by TYRESE (@tyrese) on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:25pm PST

Tank, having gotten wind of Jacquees' statements, refuted his "king" claim. "First, R.Kelly is the king of R&B. The accusations don't disqualify what he's accomplished. Second, if you can't go in the studio by yourself and make a hit record, you're not my king. If you can't sing it better live, you're not my king. I appreciate all the talent out there, but we are using the word "king" too loosely."

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Every artist is supposed to believe they can fly but only one man made it happen. @rkelly body of work is still bible. I love ALL of the artist out now and some are having amazing success but to be the King you have to beat the King and his stats still stand. Imagine if “I Believe I Can Fly” had streaming when it dropped..geesh!!! I’ll let you guys focus on kings and queens.. I’ll stay focused on being around for another 20yrs! #Elevation #RnBMoney #TheGeneral

A post shared by Tank (@therealtank) on Dec 9, 2018 at 9:56pm PST

J. Holiday noted that Michael Jackson sold 20 million after the release of Off The Wall, and said R.Kelly owns the second spot. Eric Bellinger, while in the studio with Usher, simply panned his camera phone to Usher, who sat quietly in a corner.

Are Tyrese and Tank overreacting? Or should Jacquees not make such bold assertions? Sound off in the comments below.

READ MORE: Is R&B Under Siege? Tyrese, Sam Smith, And The Genre's Identity Crisis

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