Kanye West is no stranger to deadlines. In fact, the rapper-turned-fashion entrepreneur sometimes relishes the added pressure of a ticking clock. Why? While some creative types find deadlines to be stifling, West believes they help him stay ahead of rivals. 

"The idea of the competition that's out there helps present a timeline," West said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York on Thursday. "It makes [us do] better and forces us as creatives to bring things to market." 

During what was a surprise appearance at the festival, West shared the stage with sneaker designer Steven Smith. West said that when designing for his own fashion brand, Yeezy--a collaboration with Adidas that's best known for its sneakers--he has to keep in mind that other companies are trying to create the next big thing at the same time that he is. As a creator, he said, you want to be "really belligerent about making the best product without putting a timeline on things." But take too long, and you risk being beaten. "It's a balance," he added.

If belligerence in the name of product development sounds a little like Steve Jobs, it's worth noting that West came close to comparing himself to Jobs during the conversation, calling Yeezy "the Apple of apparel." Jobs, of course, was known for launching innovative, sometimes revolutionary products--and making a big public splash when announcing them--while it may be too early to tell whether Yeezy has the potential to inspire similar devotion from consumers. 

Despite the Apple comparison--and in classic Kanye stream-of-consciousness style--West then went on to criticize the role of iPhones--and all smartphones--in society, saying that mobile app-based video games like Angry Birds can become addicting. "The real power is simply the elements: earth, wind, fire, water," he said. Then, pulling his iPhone out of his pocket, he added: "This right here is like playing with dirt."

Published on: Nov 8, 2019