Rap nerds have speculated whether “The Language” is a subliminal response to Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” Is it appropriate to put those two records side by side?
I don’t ever want to get into responses. It’s a commitment to go there. “The Language” is just energy. What it was inspired by, I’m sure that, and other things. It’s just me talking my shit. I never once felt the need to respond to that record. The sentiment he was putting forth is what he should have. Of course you wanna be the best. Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we’ll be buddy-buddy? Mind you, I never once said he’s a bad guy [or] I don’t like him. I think he’s a fucking genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall. Jordan doesn’t have to play pickup to prove that he could play ball, no offense. But I’m not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, ’cause I feel great. There’s no real issue. It’s tough because the people wanna see us tear each other down; I don’t wanna give them that. There’s no point. I have no ill feelings toward that guy. It’s just like, it’s there for me if I wanna fall for it. I’m just too smart for that. Hopefully it’s the last time I gotta talk about this, ’cause every time I open my mouth up about it, they take this piece and take this piece. And he’s hungry, so he’s going to do what he has to do like the BET [cypher]. But again, it’s not enough for me to go. We haven’t seen each other [since the BET cypher] but I’m sure we’ll see each other and it’ll be cool. And if it’s not, then I guess that’s how our story unfolds.
In an interview with Los Angeles’ Power 106, Kanye West told Big Boy that he wishes he’d recorded “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”  How does it feel to hear someone who’s inspired you— someone who’s greatly steered hip-hop culture in the past decade—say that about your song?
[Pauses] As of late, me and ’Ye have opened up the doors to having communication and a relationship that was closed for a bit—and it needed to be. To push him more. We’re just checkin’ on each other once in a while. I’m sure it’s always gonna be competitive. [OVO co-founder] Oliver El-Khatib and I were talking the other night, like, “How crazy it is to hear ’Ye say shit about us?” We’re some kids from Toronto. It’s crazy. I couldn’t have predicted it. I’m still very much honored when I hear something like that because that’s still my guy. He’s why people accept me. He really was the first one to break down that door that I was allowed to walk through. It was crazy to hear him say anything about my music, let alone, that. And there’s a lot of good songs out right now for him to say that. It’s dope.
 “When I heard the completed version, it was almost unreal what I thought it could do. I was like, 'This might be one of the biggest songs of our time.' 40 years from now, I don’t think the song will sound old.” —Nineteen85
You brought him out as a surprise guest at OVO Fest in Toronto in August. He said you’re the reason that he and Jay Z made Watch the Throne, because you were bringing the pressure. Have you had a conversation with him since?
We talk a lot. We talk about potential things, working on stuff together. It’s just so interesting to go from OVO Fest to now, being the two tours that are on the road in America. We’re kinda back on the same—What’s he gonna do? ’Cause I know what I’m gonna do. It’s like that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson documentary of them reflecting on everything years later. Me and him might be able to do one of those one day, a crazy sit-down together in suits and just be old, like, “This how I really felt.” He’s, like, the best. What an era to be a part of. I wouldn’t want my competition to be anybody else. My competition is nobody else, by the way. It’s just me and ‘Ye. I still have work to do but that’s what it is right now.
Some of the writing on Nothing Was the Same, particularly on “Connect,” has a poetic feel to it. Lines like “Wish you would learn to love people and use things and not the other way around,” how do you come up with those?
I just have a folder of lines. It’s usually from conversations. I’ll open up and see the last thing that I wrote down. [Scrolls phone] Like this’ll probably never get used: “I’m not gullible, I just trust you.” Someone must have said that to me. I kinda just write down these lines. Who helped me write on“Connect”  is this girl Kenza. She’s a great girl and a phenomenal poetry writer. We just sit together and come up with the best way to say things.  Actually, me and her did [the lyric] “love people and use things and not the other way around.” It’s cool to get another creative mind in there, just someone who’s thinking solely about the words and not the melodies and placement. It’s nice to read her poetry sometimes, I’ll take from that.
 “‘Connect’ was in the air at one point. Because the album is slow sometimes and we were trying to keep the tempo up—maybe we could replace that with something a little quicker. But I fought for ‘Connect’ because that was one of the most groundbreaking pieces, musically.” —Shebib
 “When I texted him, 'Isn't it amazing, how you talk all that shit and still we lack communication,' he was like, 'Are you talking to me about me right now or is that for the song?'” —Kenza Samir, poet
Do you ever have to censor yourself when telling personal stories? On “From Time” you mentioned a “Courtney from Hooters on Peachtree,” and people tracked her down online. Do you ever feel the need to change names or details?