Business is booming for Yeezy.
Kanye West covers the latest issue of Forbes. The magazine goes inside the “billion-dollar Yeezy empire” created by the 42-year-old hip-hop impresario.
“I am a product guy at my core,” says West, who ranks No. 4 on Forbes‘ list of hip-hop’s wealthiest rappers. “To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life, that’s the problem-solving that I love to do.”
According to Forbes, Yeezy is expected to top $1.5 billion in sales by the end of 2019. By comparison, Nike’s Jordan line does approximately $3 billion in annual sales. Forbes pegs his pre-tax income at $150 million over the past 12 months, while his team claims the number is even higher.
While the Jordan line does approximately $3 billion in annual sales; West’s upstart is expected to top $1.5 billion in 2019 and growing. West still owns 100% of Yeezy, a holding that made him a centimillionaire much earlier in life than other competitors—including Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/Qi0irh4f2t
— Forbes (@Forbes) July 9, 2019
As a child, West was obsessed with the Lamborghini Countach, which inspired his designs. “There’s a little bit of Lamborghini in everything I do,” he says of the Italian automobile manufacturer. “Yeezy is the Lamborghini of shoes.”
During the interview, which took place at his Calabasas home and office, West reflects on publicly asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2016 to invest $1 billion in his company and help bail him out of his $53 million debt. “I’m just blessed through the grace of God to go from tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg [for money],” he says now with a laugh. “People wondered, ‘Why did you tweet at Mark Zuckerberg?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I heard he was looking for aliens.'”
Despite his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, West doesn’t see it as a hindrance. In fact, he sees his condition as a “superpower” that unlocks his imagination. “‘Crazy’ is a word that’s not gonna be used loosely in the future,” he says. “Understand that this is actually a condition that people can end up in, be born into, driven into and go in and out. And there’s a lot of people that have been called that ‘C’ word that have ended up on this cover.”
And it’s only the beginning for West, who still owns 100 percent of Yeezy. Other concepts are in the works, including a shoe made out of algae that will biodegrade completely over time in landfills.
“We’ve yet to see all of the beauty that would be manifested through this partnership,” he says. “We’ve only experienced a small glimmer of light.”