West, 37, was a surprise guest speaker Tuesday during the Cannes Lions festival, known as the "festival of creativity," where he sat on a panel for a seminar entitled "Translation: Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape." And the rapper with a passion for public speaking did not disappoint during his speech.
The newlywed reportedly opened by declaring, “I don’t want to say all these big over-the-top statements that end up getting quoted the wrong way.”
Fortunately, Kanye still managed to deliver quite a few gems during his speech.
While discussing his obsession with design, he shared a very entertaining story about one of his wedding photos. The shot in question is the picture of the kiss he shared with Kim Kardashian against the extravagant backdrop of flowers at Forte di Belvedere in Florence, Italy.
"Let me tell you something about that kiss photo that my girl put up," West said, explaining that he and Kim, 33, worked on perfecting the wedding photo for four days until it was good enough to post on Instagram. "This was pissing my girl off during the honeymoon, she was exhausted because we worked on the photo so much because Annie Leibovitz pulled out right before the wedding."
According to the hip-hop star, the famed photographer — who shot Kim and Kanye for their Vogue cover — backed out one day before their nuptials. British photographer Conor McDonnell, 22, ended up landing the gig. He got his start as a rock photographer and has worked with Bono, Rita Ora, and Ellie Goulding.
"I think that [Annie] was, like, scared of the idea of celebrity," West mused. "I was like, 'Okay, I still want my wedding photos to look like Annie Leibovitz,' and we sat there and worked on that photo for, like, four days because the flowers were off-color."
"Can you imagine telling someone who wants to just Instagram a photo, who's the No. 1 person on Instagram, 'We need to work on the color of the flower wall?'" continued West. "Or the idea that it's a Givenchy dress, and it’s not about the name Givenchy, it’s about the talent that is Riccardo Tisci — and how important Kim is to the Internet?"
All of Kim and Kanye's hard work paid off. Their wedding snap became the most-liked image ever on Instagram, receiving more than 2.28 million likes and counting, and more than 51,000 comments.
"The fact the No. 1 most-liked photo [on Instagram] has a kind of aesthetic was a win for what the mission is, which is raising the palette," West noted.
"It was a long time," he concluded, which drew laughs from the crowd. "Why did Annie Leibovitz pull out one day before the wedding?"
West was part of a panel that included music and branding guru Steve Stoute, Bloomberg News's Stephanie Ruhl, and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz. When the conversation turned to celebrity and branding deals and Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats by Dre, he said, "I am not a fan of Samsung, by the way," referencing the company's deal with Jay Z.
"There would have been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal. It showed the No. 1 company the importance of connecting with culture," West continued. "The reason I said I didn't like Samsung particularly is because throughout my entire life, because of how my parents raised me, I have to work with the No. 1. I can't work with anyone but Jay Z, because he's No. 1. I can't be with any girl but Kim, because that's the girl whose pictures I look at the most and get turned on by. I'm not going to represent any company but Louis Vuitton, because that's No. 1. … Samsung is not quite Apple, but it showed that Jimmy [Iovine] and Dre would be able to connect with the No. 1 influencers.”
Judging from Twitter, West's speech was a hit. The newlywed was in good spirits, laughing on stage and engaging the audience. Marriage is apparently doing the rapper good.
UPDATE June 19, 2014: It appears West and Leibovitz have patched things up. In a statement, the photog's rep claimed Kanye's comments "have been taken out of context and sensationalized," adding that Leibovitz "would have loved to have taken their wedding portrait and was disappointed it didn't happen."
Kanye, meanwhile, also sought to make amends: "Although Kanye expressed frustration that he was not able to collaborate with Annie Leibovitz at his recent wedding, he is not assigning blame, and is not accusing Annie in any way. Unbeknownst to Kanye, she was never confirmed. Kanye and Annie's representatives were in negotiations for weeks that were not completed by the time of the wedding."