The Genesis of KanyeSoc

By Richard Xu-Austen and Caleb Burke

Cover Art by: Jelena Xu

It began with a random post in UNSW Discussion Group on March 24 and now, a little over a week later, the UNSW Kanye Society has become a real, tangible thing. The founders, Ben Doyle, Sameen Chowdhury, Cameron Mayhew and Jack Corrigan have created a society with over 400 followers. How was this success achieved? Is it a meme or is it real? Why Kanye of all people? Blitz talked to Sameen and Ben to find out more.

A Confluence of Kanye Love

Richard: Hi, I’m Richard. I’m the editor of Blitz and today, I’m here with…

Ben: I’m Ben! I’m one of the founders of Kanye society.

Sameen: And I’m Sameen, I’m also one of the founders of Kanye society.

Richard: Tell me about the genesis of KanyeSoc.

Ben: Sameen, did you wanna go first, since it kinda started [with you]?

Sameen: I mean, it was kind of like a random thought I had.. I found out that Macquarie had a Kanye society, and I was like “Oh Geez, I really want one.” And I’m constantly doubting “Is UNSW the right uni for me?”. So I asked one of my friends “Hey, yo! What should I do if there’s a Kanye society at Macquarie, and not at UNSW?” and he’s like “Go build one. Go make one.” I was like “Alright, fine.” So randomly... it wasn’t even well thought-out. I was just on Facebook, and I was like “You know what... petition to start a Kanye West society. Because why not?” And I wasn’t expecting all the reactions that it got. I was so hyped! Like, it was amazing.

Ben: Me and the other two who aren’t here—Cam and Jack—had started planning, and we had emailed Arc and stuff. It was basically at the same time, we had started a week before, and then Sameen posted on his Facebook and it got like 600 reacts or something, and we’re like, “What the fuck?” And then we basically just messaged him saying “Hey bro, we’re planning it, do you wanna help with us?” and he’s like “Yeah, okay!” So we’ve all been working on it together since then. We’ve made the group, and we’ve done a bunch of admin stuff. It’s been so weird because we never thought it was going to happen, and it sounded like Sameen didn’t think it was actually going to take off. And then we combined forces, and it worked from there.

Sameen: Yeah, it just worked!

Richard: That’s amazing! I didn’t even realise that! There’s a backstory here, okay!

Ben: It was the lore!


Presidential Candidate Kanye West

Richard: Well, going onto politics. What did you think about his run for president last year?

Ben: Yeah! That was fuelled by a lot of different things, and obviously that kind of crashed and burned in a lot of different ways. I didn’t follow it extremely close, but from what I can tell it was kind of almost a byproduct of a lot of the mental illness that he was dealing with at the time, and it still is to this day. Would I have voted for Kanye? I don’t know… Maybe. Would Kanye have been a good president? Again, I don’t know… I feel like Biden was probably the man for the job. But it would have been funny!

Sameen: "Slavery was a choice".

Richard: [Laughing] Oh god. Oh no. Okay, moving onto a different topic now.

Steven: Cut the camera. [Laughing]



Meme Or Reality?

Richard: Is the society a meme? Or is it real?

Ben: So the society, honestly, started off as a meme. Now it’s probably a hybrid of both. The society’s cover photo is literally just wide Kanye on the Facebook page. I thought of that myself... I engineered that. I think it’s gonna be there to stay if I got my way. But I think if we have my vision of the society it would be a mix, you know. We wouldn’t be super “Kanye true blood's only.” you know. “This is the album ranking. If you disagree, just leave.” Yeah, it’s just going to be a bit of fun.

Sameen: Yeah, I guess. I mean, I want it to be a place where I can just meet up with people who appreciate the same kind of music. And Kanye is just an incredible character, honestly. So why not? Why not just build a society out of nowhere.

Kanye West, Role Model?

Richard: The society has received a lot of good attention on the UNSW discussion group. Why do you think that is?

Sameen: I think it’s because literally everyone agrees that Kanye’s the best. Woot woot! But seriously though, everyone that I’ve seen that has come onto our page and onto our chat, they just post memes about Kanye and just genuinely love Kanye’s music. Like honestly, the amount of appreciation that we got. The amount of appreciation for Kanye’s music and his character was incredible. Like, I did a poll about last week I think, and I went through the polls. Mostly everyone was like “Oh, it’s just to appreciate Kanye and his music.” Really, it was fantastic to see.

Ben: Yeah, obviously again, Kanye is a huge character in hip-hop. Pretty much everyone who likes hip-hop probably started off through liking Kanye or a few other musicians. But Kanye is probably one of the main hip-hop people. And he’s got this certain wholesomeness to him, I don't know!

Richard: Is he a role model to you?

Ben: Personally, in some aspects maybe. In some aspects probably not. But, it's more that he’s just got this wholesomely characteristic to him. Especially in his early days, right. It’s probably continued a bit to now. Obviously, he kind of had the megalomaniac phase which was really interesting. And then, from his roots he was just you know “Hey mum”. He’s a guy that loves his mum, and he wants to make hip-hop music. It’s really sweet.

Kanye's Music

Richard: What are your personal favourite Kanye albums? And lyrics. Maybe rap a lyric please!

Sameen: Oh no. Oh no. No.

Ben: I can go first if you want to save time.

Sameen: I mean… eh… um my best lyrics are probably inappropriate. 

Richard: Can you bleep them out? Or is it just all bad lyrics?

Sameen: [Laughing] There’s this one from this song called All Mine, and the best line, it’s probably one of the best lines I’ve ever heard. It goes like this. [Rapping] “I love your ******* 'cause they prove I can focus on two things at once”.

Ben: Oh no.

Sameen: That one was so good!

Richard: Why do you think the lyric is that powerful?

Sameen: It’s just funny! I don’t know. Kanye’s like a character. He expresses his character through his music as well. He’s weird and tacky, but also pretty selfless as well. And he has a blend of emotions throughout his albums and his music in general.

Ben: But personally, I love Yeezus. It’s my favourite album. I love all his albums. And my favourite lyric: “I am a god. I am a god."... times twenty.

Richard: Did you guys want to rank your favourite albums? 

Ben: On the spot. Yeezus. Kids See Ghosts. Oh I love Kids See Ghosts. That’s the only album I own physically. I need a record player. I think it was super on-sale, and I was like “Oh I love Kids See Ghosts, I need to get it!”

Richard: Do you like the poster art?

Ben: Oh yeah! So good! The artist is, I think, Murakami?

Richard: Yeah! Murakami!

Ben: Yeah, I think he did a Japanese exhibition in Australia recently.

Richard: Japan Supernatural, yeah!

Ben: Yeah! He had a thing on that. We went to it, and it was sick. But then, I think he went out of business recently as well which kind of sucks.

Richard: Really?

Ben: Yeah, from COVID and all that. So there’s that. Third, Late Registration, Graduation, and then probably my least favourite is Jesus is King. I feel like a lot of people will have that view.

Richard: What do you think about Jesus is King, his latest work.

Sameen: I mean, I don’t disagree, but… yeah. For me, when I listen to a song, I tend to repeat it to the point where it gets really boring. But I still keep on repeating it. I haven’t listened to all of his albums, but from the top of my head: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF). It’s amazing. The Life of Pablo. I love Graduation. I love Yeezus. If I could rank them: MBDFT. Yeezus. The Life of Pablo. And Graduation. And I try to listen to his older ones, so Late Registration and College Dropout. They’ve got some pretty good bangers!

Ben: He’s so flexible as well, right! Like, he started with that Solo R&B, and then he progressed to whatever the fuck Yeezus was. And then he went on to do gospel music again. He’s probably one of the—if not the—most versatile artists. Also... 808s.

Sameen: Oh! 808s! I forgot about that!

Ben: Yeah! When I first started getting into Kanye when I was in like year six or seven, I hated 808s! I thought it was boring. I just never listened to it. When I started getting more into high school, 808s was one of my favourite albums. And it still kind of is, honestly. It’s just such a different kind of take on music. Like, it started an entire genre, right. It influenced basically every single SoundCloud rapper. It started Kanye’s career. There’s so much shit that I’m influenced by.

Hip-Hop Artists

Richard: So, what other artists do you like? And do you think KanyeSoc will broaden out into just hip-hop in general rather than just Kanye?

Ben: Yeah, so obviously Kanye was influenced by a lot of people and he has a lot of influences. Basically the entire genre at this point, to some extent has been influenced by Kanye. I think there’s definitely a lot of room to expand into Kanye’s influences, and who he’s been influencing, and people a part of good music who he’s collaborated with. Obviously Kid Cudi is probably one of the biggest. But then, his influence can be traced to a lot of different characters, right. Even like, 6ix9ine should be rated to some extent and has been influenced by Kanye. And recently in hip-hop, like Yandhi is still getting a lot of remixes and fan stuff, which is obviously the fandom of Kanye is really helping keep his music alive even though he’s not releasing stuff. And he’s had all these like “Yeah, I’m going to release this album”, and then next time he just forgets about it. But there’s still stuff, he’s still working on it.

But I don’t know. In terms of what artists I’ve been listening to recently, all of the Trippie Redd leaks. He’s got a new album coming out, and I don’t usually listen to Trippie Redd, but like, oh my god, his new leaks are really good. They’re all on his instagram and stuff. I don’t know, I like a lot of hip-hop, so.

Richard: How about you, Sameen?

Sameen: I do like a lot of hip-hop as well. Other than Kanye, I like Eminem, I like Drake. Don’t cancel me please.

Ben: Nah, it’s all good, it’s all good! I listen to Drake too.

Sameen: Who else do I listen to? I listen to a variety of artists. I also listen to different genres as well. Machine Gun Kelly’s (MGK) new album, I remember that! That was a banger! Bloody Valentine, that was amazing. I guess, yeah, I’m more broad with what I listen to, but I do listen to a lot of hip-hop.


Donda

Richard: So, when do you think Donda is coming out?

Ben: [Laughing] I think there was an article saying that he’s been working on it. Again, honestly at this point with Kanye’s release schedule, it’s probably just not true. 

Richard: Next ten years maybe?

Ben: Kanye’s been pretty good. If we exclude the past three years, he’s been pretty good with releasing music consistently. I feel like there’s probably something coming this year.

Richard: Have you seen his twitter feed, and how he keeps saying he’s going to release an album and then never does?

Ben: Yeah, there was the thing with Yandhi where he literally released Hurricane, like the snippet for Hurricane where he released a trailer for the album, and then it just never came out. With Donda as well, he was hyping Donda, but it never came out. There were other albums that have been scrapped, like TurboGrafx 16 and that stuff. Honestly, TurboGrafx was such a good album and it just never dropped. Like, Can’t Look in My Eyes is one of my favourite songs of all time, but it never came out. But I would assume that he is coming out with something this year. 

Richard: Hopefully.

Ben: Hopefully, we can only hope. There’s no way we can know.


A Good Christian

Richard: How do you feel about him not swearing in any of his music anymore? He’s a good Christian now.

Sameen: Oooh. Damn. He’s changed a lot from I Love It, I guess. Like I remember him talking about I Love It, and how he regretted singing that. And so, in a way he kind of lost what was his fire, I guess. Because the swearing made it pretty cool as well.

Ben: I Love It was just such a funny music video, that’s the main thing. But like, in terms of the swearing thing, I think he can represent what he wants to represent. I mean, I don’t really care if his albums have swearing in it or not. I think it’s interesting that he’s moving in that direction when not many other artists are. I think that’s cool. But I definitely think he can do better things than Jesus Is King with his gospel music taste. There are other versions of songs on that album that were a lot more refined and better than what actually was on it. And he’s been producing with all other people, and I don’t know. I don’t really mind that he doesn’t swear. It doesn’t really bother me.


The Future of KanyeSoc.

Richard: What are the plans for the future of KanyeSoc.

Ben: Okay, so I’ve had a lot of out there funny ideas. I had an idea that—because I do debating—we could have a proper structured debate. And we could have Kanye topics. That could be really funny!

Sameen: That was one of the suggestions as well!

Ben: And then also having an actual formal night where everyone comes up fully in formal dress. I was talking to some of my friends as well and they were like “That would be sick!”. Just also generally, like a movie night watching The Joe Rogan Podcast. That one could be so good! There’s a lot of potential in that. And I think Kanye released a movie with Yeezus. Honestly, haven’t seen it, but it could be good. Like, Kanye is such a broad concept! There are just so many wacky and weird things we could incorporate into it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Sameen: I guess… parties. That’s going to be a thing. I mean, parties are probably what's keeping this society going. And we have contact with the president of Macquarie Kanye society as well. He just came up to me and was like “Yo! We should link up!”

Ben: He asked us if we wanted to have an end of semester Kanye society merging party where both of our societies have a big party.

Sameen: Yeah! Between Macquarie and UNSW.

Richard: Do you think there could be—possibly—a national Kanye society for all university students.

Ben: Not even just university students. If we could expand to everyone. If the parliament house could get involved. The Kanye West Commission. What was Kanye’s party called? Like, the Birthday Party. [Laughing] It’s so funny. I don’t know, like honestly… probably a good idea. The feasibility… I don't know. But in principle… 

What would you say to Kanye?

Richard: If you could meet Kanye ever, what would you say to him?

Group: [Silence]

Sameen: “I love you. And I love how you made that b*tch famous.”

Richard: [To Ben] What about you? 

Ben: Um… I don't know. Like, “Hi.”

Sameen: [Laughing] Come on, you’ve got to say more than that!

Ben: I don’t know, depending on the time of day, like “Good morning.” or “Good afternoon.”

Sameen: [Laughing] Come on! It’s Kanye!

Richard: And after the greeting?

Ben: After the greeting, we might move onto more interesting economic and political discussion. Might talk about the American political system. I don’t know, he might have some interesting takes on that, as we’ve seen in the past.


Fine Gentlemen...

Richard: One last question! Who was in Paris?

Group: [Shouting] Ohhh!!

Richard: Can you answer that?

Ben: Gentlemen.

Sameen: Fine gentlemen with a lot of melanin.

Group: [Shouting] Ooo!

Richard: With that! Thanks for coming! It was great speaking with you guys!

Sameen Chowdhury is the co-founder of UNSW's Kanye Society. He is a first-year studying Aerospace Engineering.

"I love to listen to music - like a lot of Kanye, Kendrick and Drake. In my spare time I also like playing sports and occasionally working out"

Ben Doyle is the co-founder of UNSW's Kanye Society. He's a first-year studying a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He also likes to be known as a Sigma Lifter.

"I’m interested all kinds of music. I started off liking Radiohead ages ago, then branched into other genres. I play drums too so that’s how I got into the jazz side of music. I’m really into gaming (I built my pc a few years ago so that’s a huge hobby of mine), also love movies and I love reading because I’m pretty passionate about my degree, so I’ll read the odd classic here and there."

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Blitz Editor

Richard Xu-Austen

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Steven Wu