~Exploring Kanye West’s connection to Video Games, Japan, and Hideo Kojima~
Heard Hideo Kojima is in NY We need to meet Does anyone know where he is or how to contact him
— ye (@kanyewest) December 14, 2018
~UPDATE – This never ended up happening, which is a shame, but this post that I’ve written still shows some of the connections between Kanye West and Hideo Kojima, Video Games, and Japan. Thanks~
The near-crossing of paths between two artistic visionaries in Hideo Kojima and Kanye West last year is something that I thought about often, and ever since hearing Tim Gettys mention the possibility of Ye appearing in Death Stranding during Kinda Funny’s GamesCom Livestream, I haven’t been able to get the notion out of my head.
The strands are weak, extremely weak, but they’re possible, and if this happens and I didn’t say anything then I’ll kick myself, so here we go. Here is some of the evidence to support this, some of the ways that Yeezus could be within the game, and some of the strands that connect Hideo Kojima and Kanye West together.
December 2018 – “We need to meet” – Kanye West reaches out via social media in an attempt to form a connection, a ‘strand’, if you will, with Hideo Kojima. This attracts some attention from media outlets, and Geoff Keighley – who is a close friend of Kojima’s – responds. And yet, nothing seems to happen.
Now, the strand of doubt that comes from this is that Hideo Kojima is not someone I would expect to shy away from meeting (and sharing publicly said meeting) with a fellow creative, particularly one that has shown a key interest in his work, and one that has an appreciation for Japanese art and culture (something I will get onto shortly).
To the delight of his many fans online, Kojima is extremely active on social media, documenting his many friendships and collaborations with creators from both within the gaming sphere and firmly outside of it. These strands range from Norman Reedus and Mads Mikelson, who both star in the game, to Keanu Reeves, to even recently Bring Me The Horizon. Could Kojima have secretly collaborated with Kanye?
“Yes, I can’t really say who yet, but there are many people in cameos” -Hideo Kojima, GamesCom Opening Night Live 2019
If done in the same way as Geoff Keighley’s character in Death Stranding, Kanye West would be scanned into the game and used as a likeness for a character. Kojima described in the showcase at GamesCom (which has now been succeeded by a large gameplay showcase at TGS) the appearance of ‘Preppers’, characters that would appear in a similar fashion to Keighley’s ‘Ludens Fan’ and help you along the way. Could this be the capacity that Ye appears in if present?
In August last year, Kanye took a vacation in Japan with his family, and visited the teamLAB Borderless digital art museum. Let’s all put our tinfoil hats on for a second: The Kojima Productions studio is in Shinagawa, Tokyo, which is roughly 15 minutes away from the borderless museum in a car. You’re telling me Kanye couldn’t have made a quick stop by the studio whilst there?
“Do you read Sam? Listen to music? Watch films? You know, I keep busy. I have a collection of music, television shows, some very interesting short films, and stories. Everything consumable within a 21-minute window.” – Heartman
Nicolas Winding Refn’s character in Death Stranding, ‘Heartman‘, is brought in-and-out of consciousness every 21 minutes, searching for his family in death, and indulging in a selection of media in his brief downtime.
This is a great way for Kojima to not only interweave his passion for film and general pop culture into the game itself, but also to drop little pieces of content and references that might otherwise not fit into the over-arching narrative. Hell, if Jesus Is King is the next album to come from Mr West, with YANDHI in a current state of uncertainty through delays and leaks, why not release the latter within the game? Wishful thinking, of course.
In 2018, Kanye went against the grain of longer album releases that are seemingly made with streaming records in mind, such as Scorpion from Drake, or Beerbongs & Bentleys from Post Malone (not that I have anything against those albums, I enjoy them both). He not only released his own album Ye and collaborative project Kids See Ghosts with Kid Cudi, but produced albums from Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, and Nas, and they were all compact, hovering around the 20-minute mark. These albums are the perfect length for Heartman, as their runtime syncs up fairly closely to his repetitive lifespan.
This is a mere coincidence, of course, but one that fits absolutely perfectly with Heartman’s character. He could listen to Kids See Ghosts almost in its 24-minute entirety, and literally be reborn whilst listening to Reborn, a track that in its lyrics seems somewhat thematically relevant to his character. It’s a perfect strand, and depending on Heartman’s musical taste (which we have yet to discover), I would like to think that he has this album on his shelf.
~Kanye West & Japan~
Kanye has an appreciation for Japanese culture, and has taken inspiration from it many times in different aspects of his career. Here are some examples:
-During an interview with David Letterman for his Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Kanye linked the decor in his home to the Japanese philosophy of ‘Wabi-Sabi’.
-West is good friends with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, who created the artwork for his albums Graduation and Kids See Ghosts. He also has some of his ceramic artwork in his home, again seen in the above-mentioned Letterman show.
-West once described the unorthodox way he wore his footwear as “The Japanese way” after attracting attention in the press, and it is quite possible that his immensely popular Yeezy brand takes some inspiration from Japanese culture.
-West has vocalised his love for the 1988 anime film Akira many times. Not only did he state at one point on Twitter that the film was ‘his biggest creative inspiration’, but it also inspired many themes and even direct shots for his music video for Stronger. Hideo Kojima also has an affinity for this science-fiction classic, and in fact, used the film’s date to tease Death Stranding’s release in typical Kojima-rumour fashion.
“I’ll be like ‘I wanna make a game’ and they’ll be like ‘fuck you’.” – Kanye West, 2016
~Kanye West & Video Games~
A collaboration or cameo appearance in Death Stranding wouldn’t be the first time Kanye West has dabbled in the games industry. In 2016, during a TIDAL livestream showing off TLOP and a new clothing line, Ye debuted a trailer for Only One, a game that paid tribute to his mother Donda. He spoke in a succinct manner about the difficulties of getting this game concept off the ground, and while the project never saw the light of day, it looked like it could have been quite the emotional and moving passion project, had it gone right.
West has also referenced video games in some of his music. In the relevant and above mentioned Reborn, he makes reference to a little known video game Super Mario Bros. (“All of you Mario, it’s all a game”), and one of his projects was at some point nicknamed ‘Turbo-Grafx 16‘. West has even said at one point that the reason he originally got into making and producing beats as a teen was to accompany the video games he was making.
Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding launches on November 8th, and is not just a game, but a multifaceted piece of media. Alongside the release will be a Death Stranding album, featuring music from the likes of CHVRCHES, Khalid, and Major Lazer. In a perfect world, Kanye has contributed a track or some production to this record. Other releases to coincide with the anticipated game include The Art of Death Stranding book, featuring concept artwork from Yoji Shinkawa, and Timefall, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Death Stranding.
For a game that’s been shrouded in mystery since being announced years ago, Kanye West’s involvement would certainly be a surprise that would gain attention. I hope my nonsensical ramblings have some truth to them.