- (Photo: Brian Liebman)
Brian Liebman, the man behind "Yeezianity," wants to clear up the misunderstanding behind his newly founded religion and make it known that his purpose is to establish faith in humanity and not to elevate Kanye West to the stature of Jesus Christ.
Liebman, 23, who prefers to be identified as BMAN, his "artist" name, says the contentious idea behind Yeezianity steers away from idolatry. And although he says his admiration for the rapper is anything but worship, BMAN finds no shame in desiring to be like his "model."
After revealing his identity as the founder of the movement, BMAN received negative feedback from Christians and nonbelievers alike. He said he was negatively portrayed and misrepresented in the media as an unsocial individual and unemployed yet privileged by way of his parents' income, which prompted him to contact The Christian Post to establish the truth behind his motives.
An edited transcript of BMAN's interview with The Christian Post is below.
CP: Why do you feel the need to clear people's perception of your image?
BMAN: I want the truth about me out there so if someone desires to find it they can. I'm talking about the truth that I pay my own bills out of money I saved, and that I have always lived a simple, humble life and never one of wealth or excess. I'm a creative, I can't fit into the world as a normal person and I know that because most of my life I've tried to and I've failed.
CP: Where does your unconventional admiration for Kanye West stem from?
BMAN: I think certain people's souls vibrate at a similar frequency, and ever since I discovered Kanye I've always felt like he is coming from the same type of place I am, and his struggle on the big stage is similar to my own personal struggles. I hope that doesn't come across like I've got some sort of fixation on him because I don't. It's always a struggle to push the culture forward; every visionary, every creative has faced the tests that Kanye is going through, so when I see him fighting for himself it just makes me want to fight for myself that much harder.
I want to meet him because as a creative I want to see how I stack up against him. People will say, "wow, this guy is so arrogant, he's a nobody. Who does he think he is trying to stack up against Kanye West?" Well to me, I'm not a nobody, and if you look at my creative work with an open mind you'll see I can back it up.
CP: Do you really believe West is "a stepping stone to Jesus?"
BMAN: I believe that it makes sense to approach spiritual growth as something gradual. The model of Jesus is out of reach for most of us in this day and age, but just because the pinnacle is unattainable doesn't mean we can't aim a little lower. Kanye definitely has his flaws, but he's done one thing that no one can deny. He manifested his dreams to become a reality. That's the model of Yeezus, that's not as high as Jesus; think of it as the America dream model, but that's something almost every living person can attain if they put their mind towards it.
CP: How do you justify beginning a new religion after a celebrity?
BMAN: I'm not going to justify it; the people who think it's cool are justifying it. If they stop caring, it's no longer legitimate, it's that simple. Religion is after all a cultural creation of man, there's nothing in stone.
I cut out 2,000 years of people exploiting Jesus' name and ideas and slapped a modern cultural figure on it who I admit is not as good as Jesus but nonetheless, there's a lot of people who can connect with it.
CP: Since you began Yeezianity, Christians have had a negative reaction and others speculate whether this movement is legitimate. What do you say to that?
BMAN: There is always going to be a negative reaction to something really creative, I understand that. I'm not worried about the people that don't get it; I try my best to focus my attention on the people that do get it. The harsh reality is that the mainstream society is removed of spiritual ideas … I'm just working with the reality that is presented to me which is that a lot of people understand the world only through Hollywood, celebrities and pop music so that is the channel I am using to bring what are basically Christian ideas to mainstream culture.
CP: Are you hoping this movement becomes an organized religion?
BMAN: No, in fact I sincerely hope it does not become an organized religion. The last thing the world needs is another organized religion. I'm not saying they're bad, but religious institutions tend to become corrupt just like every other human thing. The institution part is a necessary evil to organize something that is very good.
CP: You say that Yeezianity is not about worshipping or idolizing Kanye, but about faith. What do you mean?
BMAN: I don't worship Kanye, but I see what he's done in his lifetime and I see his genuine heart and I have faith that when it's all said and done people are going to look back and realize he pushed the world forward where others did not. When I say we need to have faith, I mean we need to have faith in each other and in ourselves.
If you really want power you shouldn't bother seeking money, you should seek to attain good karma. That's what Jesus had, He had perfect karma, that's why He could do all those amazing things, and the only way you get good karma is by giving. I realize that the more I give the more I receive, so I make sure to give as much as I possibly can and the receiving will take care of itself. Now if that's not a Christian notion, I don't know what is.
CP: Why are you placing so much effort into Yeezianity, if up until now you have failed to grab West's attention, which I understand was your initial goal to begin with.
BMAN: My only goal in life is to use my talents to improve the world, everything else is just a means to be able to do that. I'm an extremely intense person, and whatever I do I put 100% into it. So to me working non-stop on Yeezianity is just a break from working non-stop on my music or another creative pursuit.
I'm not giving up, I'm going to rise to the level where I will meet Kanye, I am certain of that. The virality of Yeezianity has further solidified my faith in that, and this is a priceless experience so I'm making sure I focus and do as much as I can with it.
CP: Tell me about your upbringing and personal religious beliefs.
BMAN: I was raised Catholic, I went to the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), and I can tell you the answers they gave me there weren't satisfactory to me. I'm a pragmatist in that I believe that we should choose whatever spiritual path works best for our health and well-being.
Some people are going to say, "well that's ridiculous, how can a man decide his own path like that? He needs to follow the rules in a book like the Bible." Well what did Jesus do? He made his own path, went against the sacred rules of His day and He told us to do like Him, so say what you will but to me that's what Christianity is about.
When I think about Jesus deeply I am often overwhelmed to the point of tears because His perfection is so beautiful and it's so magnificent that's it's unspeakable. It can only be understood on a mystical plane and that's not something that I can put into words or art or even music but when I can attain that state of mind for even a brief instance I know that I am on the right track in life.
CP: What does your family think about you attempting to begin this religion?
BMAN: There's been a lot of dialogue, but it helps me to bring my ideas to a higher level and refine them so that I can defend what I'm doing. I don't want to publicly bring them into this but nobody can stop me or deter me from doing what I want to do.