Skip to navigationSkip to content

Now that Steve Jobs is dead, Kanye West is the Steve Jobs of culture, says Kanye West

AP/Paul Sakuma
In 2005 Kanye West performed at the announcement of the iPod Nano, where he presumably met Steve Jobs and stole some of his power.
By Christopher Mims
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If there’s one thing hip hop has taught us, it’s that sometimes your heroes have to die before you can assume the mantle of their greatness.

“I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means,” rapper Kanye West recently told the New York Times. “I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump.”

West has also compared himself to Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, Henry Ford and Picasso.

On what basis? West doesn’t even crack the Forbes list of the five richest artists in hip hop. Number one, Sean “Diddy” Combs, has a net worth estimated at $580 million, thanks largely to his many endorsements, including the tens of millions of dollars he receives annually from Ciroc vodka and a recent joint venture with actor Mark Wahlberg for a health water called Aqua Hydrate. Jay-Z is the second wealthiest artist in hip hop, with a net worth of $475 million.

West’s net worth isn’t on any official lists, but the death of Jobs could change that, says West. “I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.”

West insists that he will some day “be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers.” That would make him the world’s first billionaire rapper. Fashion, not rapping, could be the ticket to his success. West has previously collaborated with Louis Vuitton to design a sneaker. If he started his own label, like Sean Combs, it might be worth more than a lifetime of endorsement deals. And sure, that might make West richer. But Steve Jobs had to do a lot more than get rich to become a revolutionary.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.