Students reacted with amazement to the visit of internationally acclaimed singer Kanye West to the Oxford Guild on Monday afternoon.
Kanye gave a lecture at the University’s Natural History Museum, telling the 350-strong audience that “there’s still something you’re taught every day, especially in the UK, and that’s division by class.” He also told the student audience that if he was “going to do fine art” he would have liked to have been “Picasso or greater”.
The event, organised by business society The Oxford Guild, was heavily over-subscribed, with £4 tickets allocated by a random ballot.
The international rap star, who has sold over 21 million albums and received 21 Grammys, also told the student audience he is called by Barack Obama on his landline.
Speaking prior to the event, Guild Chairman Abbas Kazmi said he was “very excited to be hosting such an inspiring and high profile speaker. It is great to see the hard work pay off after having spent many hours negotiating against the odds and keeping things under wraps to secure this event which is a real coup for the Guild.
“We have been working industriously behind the scenes and would recommend you watch this space!”
Third year Law student Aled Jones described the event as “totally surreal and brilliant”, and a “45-minute long stream of consciousness”.
“He couldn’t be stopped,” Jones continued, “not even when someone’s phone went off and OneRepublic started playing. It was the first, and probably the last lecture I’ll ever go to where the lecturer wears Fendi. As a finalist, I particularly appreciated the bit when he said ‘time is the only luxury’”.
Kayne also urged students to think of others, saying: “Imagine a world with no war, and imagine if everyone’s main focus, more so than going out to a club, their main focus was to help someone else.
“You guys have been taught, without you knowing, ways to separate yourselves from each other. If you’re separated, you can be easily controlled. If you’re too busy pointing fingers at each other, rather than holding hands, you can’t get anything done”.
However, not all audience members were convinced. One student who attended the talk said: “To be perfectly honest, it was all quite bizarre and somewhat underwhelming. There were several awkward pauses, the venue felt like a lecture theatre, and Kanye said some really interesting things but he didn’t seem to have planned what to say.”
They also added to other student suspicions over inconsistencies in the ticking system, saying: “It was quite notable that in a random ballot taken from over 5,000 people, there was someone from every student media outlet there, as well as a crop of Union hacks. A couple of people near me commented that it was interesting, given that only about 250 people got tickets”.
The Oxford Guild has denied any allegations of ticketing bias, commenting: “The random ballot for tickets had no bias toward representatives of student media outlets.
“There was also no bias towards those active in communities such as the Oxford Union, with only two active Oxford Union committee members in attendance – which was purely by coincidence.”
Kanye finished his speech saying: “People say to me ‘you’re successful, what are you crying about?’ I’m crying about the people. I’m crying about their daughters. Our daughters, as one family. What is good is it? What good is anything that everyone can’t have? Every ism. They think we’re done with racism. What about elitism, what about separatism, what about classism? That’s all”.
Kanye’s visit also attracted national publicity, with reports in The Telegraph, BBC and the Business Insider.