Meet Cassius Marcellus Cornelius Clay: aristocrat, eccentric, old-money, nouveau-style. It’s hard to miss him at Yale. At a lanky 6’5″, the baby-faced blonde, pocket-watch user, and cravat-wearer cuts an imposing figure. He’s also more ironic than a truckload of Tumblrs. The man dresses like some unholy hipster hybrid of Scott Schuman, a 19th-century robber-baron, and the Shah of Iran. Since Day-One of freshmen year, the bespectacled social-butterfly has been Modern Love-ing and DKE-ing, praising royalism with the fusty Tory Party, and lauding Lady Gaga and libraries in the YDN.
But that’s not all there is to the inimitable fashionisto. As it happens, Cassius’ blood is bluer than even his pretty eyes. In fact, he’s the heir of the Clay dynasty, New England’s foremost titans of business and government. Cassius is related to Henry Clay himself, and takes his name from another old-Yalie ancestor, famed abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay. But despite the Yale debauchery, Cassius is no layabout. The kid earned top honors at prep-central, Phillips Academy Andover, where he was an international-level debater. In short, it’s an open question whether or not Cassius’ eccentric fashion and demeanor (not to mention his talents) satirize his dynastic roots or exemplify them.
But enough about hipster-ocrats; where does the Taylor-Swift dissing, gold-digging, strange-sunglasses-wearing hip-hopper K-West enter the picture? The tale — now verified by multiple sources close to the unlikely duo — is one of those rare gifts we gossip-mongers get: a story too unbelievable not to be true. Read on!
Rewind to earlier this summer. Cassius is doing what the does best: dropping tin at expensive, trendy designer stores. The lucky retailer of the day is Barney’s, New York. Today, his outfit is impeccable, topped off with high-end Italian designer shoes. In the midst of shopping, a man approaches Cassius, taps him on the shoulder, and tells him that he really, really loves the footwear. Cassius looks up; it’s Kanye West. Cassius keeps it cool, thanks him, and introduces himself. The stars align; history is made. (This moment will almost certainly be reenacted dramatically on Behind The Music.)
The two get to talking as they shop. Kanye loves Cassius’ style, his attitude, his patrician hipsterdom. They talk for over half an hour. Kanye begins to reveal a little more about himself: his reinvention in the wake of the Taylor Swift disaster, and his thoughts on life, art, philosophy, hos (maybe), etc. Cassius advises the rapper on his day’s purchases. Eventually the two leave the store, shopping bags in tow, and exchange phone-numbers and emails. Kanye promises to keep in touch. And oh, does he.
The next day, Cassius receives an email. Kanye has bought a controlling share in the company that designs Cassius’ sexy shoes, and wants to see his ideas for new designs. The Yalie mocks up some images, puts on his Sunday best, and heads to Kanye’s lavish Manhattan office to present seven-plus mockups. Kanye loves them, and the two hit it off even more. In the weeks that follow, Kanye and Cassius exchange emails almost daily, and the young Yalie is invited into the superstar’s inner-circle. There are lavish parties, industry introductions, and a grand tour of Ye’s social life. Cassius ingratiates himself with Kanye’s fashion team, and meets all sorts of high-rollers at Kanye’s shindigs.
All the while, the pair are growing closer. Kanye sees in Cassius a fellow artiste, torn between opposite poles of classy sophistication and earnest expression. Over many an email and phone call, the 20-year-old begins to offer his wise consul on matters beyond fashion — personal and emotional — which Kanye readily accepts. Kanye decides he needs to apologize to Taylor Swift. At this point, the rapper wants to commisserate daily.
Eventually, Kanye comes up with the brilliant idea of tweeting the apology (the pair have been following each other on the site for a month now) and near the end of the summer, comes up with this magnum opus, which rocks the celeb-osphere. Kanye’s fashion choices increasingly come from Cassius’ recommendations; his personal life flows into Cassius’ in streams of emo emails. Finally, at the end of the summer, the “College Dropout” seals the deal: he asks the Yale sophomore to dropout of Yale and become a part of his inner posse, traveling around with him for the rest of the year, helping him through his life’s lowpoint. Kanye West wants Cassius Clay to be an integral part of his resurrection.
And here’s the rub: Cassius has not returned from summer break. His Twitter account, otherwise indecipherably ironic and obscure, has filled with @kanyewest mentions and re-tweets. And earlier today, he tweeted the picture you see above, of Cassius backing up Kanye at NY Fashion week.
And so goes a tale of perhaps the unlikeliest friendship ever to come out of the Ivy League: of a hip 20 year-old Yalie, Henry Clay’s cousin, holding the hand of a tough-guy, multi-platinum rap artist, ready to buy companies and move mountains on his behalf. Throughout history, there have been creative duos that have rocked art: Pollock and Krasner, Capote and Lee, Lennon and McCartney. Now, thanks to one weird, wonderful Yale sophomore and his fabulous shoes, we have another for the ages.
So yeah, Sonny and Cher, I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but CASSIUS AND KANYE ARE THE BEST DOUBLE-ACT OF ALL TIME.
After the jump, check out more pictures of the Yalie half of Kany-ius.
Note: When this story was first published, Cassius was not available for comment, and the piece was sourced from friends and contacts. Cassius has since contacted us and the story has been updated to reflect his account. Cassius did not discuss Taylor Swift with Kanye, nor has he met Beyonce and Rihanna. Finally, the original piece misstated Cassius’ familial relation to former Secretary of State Henry Clay.