Last week, Kanye West teased an upcoming interview with radio/TV host Charlamagne Tha God. In the tweets, West referred to “The Breakfast Club” commentator as “the new Oprah” and even said that they should hold out on releasing the interview until they were offered $100 million. However, the two assumably had a change of heart since the interview premiered on the Chicago native’s YouTube account Tuesday (May 1).
In the nearly two-hour long conversation, the duo discussed West’s breakdown or “breakthrough,” his relationship with JAY-Z, and his controversial views on President Donald Trump. While Charlamagne’s typical approach can be quite brash, he seemed to come from a place of concern and made West further explain his answers. He even called for West to check his “rich ni**a” privilege.
Here are the 10 most important takeaways from the interview.
Quote: “Ever since the Taylor Swift moment the connection hasn’t been the same with radio.”
At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, a brazen Kanye interrupted the songstress during her acceptance speech with the iconic line that Beyonce had the “greatest music video of all time.” This moment, while fleeting, has negatively plagued the rapper’s career concerning radio play time. To add to this, Kanye notes L.A. Reid’s departure from Universal Music for his declined radio success, citing that Reid had radio “on lock.” These two factors combined with the surmounting pressure of artists constantly putting out new music, the non-radio success of his album The Life Of Pablo, his wife Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris, and being on tour, led to mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
Quote: “We’re good. I haven’t seen him, but I feel him.”
While the fall out between Kanye and JAY-Z was a major moment in hip-hop, the artist claimed the two are in good standing despite talks of a face to face meeting. Kanye admitted he was hurt that his “big brother” and Beyonce didn’t show up to his wedding but has since moved forward after realizing the two were going through their own marital issues. He has faith that the Carters will one day reunite and seemingly dismissed any rumors that Beyonce is not a fan of his wife Kim Kardashian.
Quote: “One of the things that was incredible when I got out of the hospital was I had lost my confidence. You could see it, that’s why they said ‘sunken place’ and all this stuff.”
Kanye admitted to having no empathy for people with low confidence prior to his breakdown but has since understood what it means to lack courage. This is a major admission for the rapper who once made a song titled “I Love Kanye.” In the same breath, he addressed rumors about him being in the “sunken place” which he almost seemed to agree with by saying it was obvious he could be “molded” and “controlled.”
He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America? Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018
Quote: “I felt like when I came out and expressed what I said and what I felt that it was almost like a Clayton Bigsby moment when everybody’s head exploded. Like ‘My ‘Ye, George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people, this dude has to like diss Trump at all costs.’ So many people around me said don’t express your feelings…well what makes George Bush any more racist than Trump? My response is, well racism isn’t the deal breaker for me. If that was the case, I wouldn’t live in America.”
Charlamagne was quick to point out the issue with Kanye saying racism “isn’t a factor to him” because of his privilege but the latter stood by his statement. He said people expecting him to disapprove of Trump because of his blackness is a stigma he wants to change. The father-of-three added that he should be able to align himself with anyone, no matter how problematic that person may be.
Quote: “I’m not going to let myself off easy by saying ‘I met with Trump because I was going thru something.’ I’m not going to give the universe that, I’m going to face it.’ …I would meet with him today to talk about Chicago.”
Despite Kanye’s infamous 2016 meeting with then president-elect Trump, the rapper admitted he agreed to the meeting from a misguided origin. While he claims he wanted to help his beloved hometown of Chicago, he also said he had to face the fact that outside influences encouraged his decision to head to Trump Tower. He also offered that oftentimes black people in the public eye are not meant to be imperfect and he wants to be the face of imperfection.
Quote: “That was the moment I wanted to use Bitcoin, when I saw Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill…When you see all the slave movies it’s like why you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? Why don’t you put Michael Jordan on a $20 bill.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, under Obama’s Administration, proposed to put Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill. Design of the currency was projected to be revealed in 2020 and pushed into circulation. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, under Trump’s Administration, hasn’t given the final say, according to CNN.
Quote: “Obama came to me before he ran for office and he met with me and my mother to let me know he was going to run for office, because I am his favorite artist of all time, because I am the greatest artist of all time. It makes sense, he got good taste…then when I went on stage, it would’ve been good if this video didn’t get out, but you saw the video [when he called Kanye a jacka**]. He never called me to apologize. The same person that sat down with me and my mom, I think should’ve communicated to me directly.”
Kanye received a lot of heat from everyone, including former President Obama after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards fiasco. In a behind the scenes video of Obama preparing for an interview, he called Kanye a “jacka**,” and it wasn’t his last time calling him out of his name. Obama stood by his statement in an interview with The Atlantic calling Ye a “jacka**,” but softened the blow with a praise to Kanye’s talents.
Quote: “It’s not that I was particularly fighting for Beyonce’s video. It was every time an award show has ever done that, just fu**ing with artists. We are HSP, highly sensitive people. Artists, that’s what you love about us. So you’re going to line up a whole bunch of artists, and put us in some bum a** suits? This idea from 200 years ago, we dressed like we 200 years ago, lined up trying to wait to get a gold statue? And you’re going to make us feel like s**t. It’s five of us and four of us got to the restaurant with our friends and be like ‘man we ain’t win nothing.’ F**k that.”
The Grammy’s has a history of getting things wrong, the most recent is arguably SZA being the most nominated female artist but walked away that night empty-handed, or when Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN didn’t win Album of the Year, and later won a Pulitzer Prize.
Quote: “Because our cape got taken away when we was three years old. We’re broken. We’re in the simulation. We want our BMW, we want our house, we want to pay all our money for the house. We want to buy this dress for our wife. We want to put our kids in school. We want this championship trophy. We want this jewelry. We want all these different things…I can’t talk somebody out of wearing Gucci…when I see branding I see insecurity and I see people buying security, buying it back through a brand.”
Yeezy has repped brands like Polo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Maison Martin Margiela either through song lyrics or flexing on the red carpet. His childhood friend, rapper GLC, speculated in a 2017 interview with The Chicago Morning Takeover that Ye needs approval from the white community, according to HipHopDX, because of the nature of being married to a white woman. Charlamagne asked why people want the validation that comes with buying luxury brand items, or the approval of “white or rich people,” and Kanye seemed to have grown from the bondage of seeking approval. He attributed this to his “breakthrough.”
Quote: “The fact that he won, it proves something. It proved that anything is possible in America. I’m not talking about what he’s done since he’s been in office, but the fact that he was able to do it … I felt the nonconventional … when I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that.”
Kanye never sticks to the script and he never fits in, but rather molds, bends or breaks spaces he occupies. In the interview, he described that’s what he connects with as it pertains to Trump. It’s not the policies, but the fact that someone without any political experience or background is able to fill up that space.