Kanye West rarely holds back in interviews. But in the past few years, he’s had a hate-hate relationship with the press, and Twitter has been his primary mouthpiece. He hasn’t done an interview in years, not even to promote 2011’s Watch the Throne.
So it’s refreshing that we finally get a glimpse into what’s been going on in Ye’s brain, in an intensely interesting New York Times interview that’s one of his most candid ever (of all time, even). The producer sat with esteemed writer Jon Caramanica and opened up about everything from his public apologies to his strive for acceptance to the inspiration behind his latest album, Yeezus, dropping on Tuesday (June 18). Check out a few things we learned from the Q&A.
1. He’s sorry he’s not sorry about interrupting Taylor Swift on stage.
“When the next little girl that wants to be, you know, a musician and give up her anonymity and her voice to express her talent and bring something special to the world, and it’s time for us to roll out and say, ‘Did this person have the biggest thing of the year?’ — that thing is more fair because I was there.”
2. He has no regrets about following his instinct.
“It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness… If anyone’s reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now.”
3. He made a perfect album so that maybe the public could forgive him.
“Dark Fantasy was my long, backhanded apology… It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics. I was like: Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.”
4. People from his label wanted him to release 808s & Heartbreak under a different name.
“They said, ‘Do it under a different name.’ And when it came out, people used to be like, ‘Man, I wish it had more rapping on it.’ But I think the fact that I can’t sing that well is what makes 808s so special.”
5. He considers himself a black new wave artist
“‘Stronger’ was the first, like, dance-rap song that resonated to that level, and then 808s was the first album of that kind, you know? It was the first, like, black new wave album. I didn’t realize I was new wave until this project… I hadn’t heard new wave! But I am a black new wave artist.”
Photo Credit: New York Times
6. He knew he’d be a star after his “Michael Jackson” line.”I knew when I wrote the line ‘light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson’ [from the song ‘Slow Jamz’] I was going to be a big star.”
7. His music is influenced heavily by Dead Prez.”Before, when I wanted to rap, my raps sounded like a bit like Cam’ron; they sounded a bit like Mase; they sounded a bit like Jay-Z or whoever. And it wasn’t until I hung out with Dead Prez and understood how to make, you know, raps with a message sound cool that I was able to just write ‘All Falls Down’ in 15 minutes.”
8. Love has made it easier for him to focus.“Any woman that you’re in love with or that loves you is going to command a certain amount of, you know, energy. It’s actually easier to focus, in some ways… I’m the type of rock star that likes to have a girlfriend, you know? I’m the type of soul that likes to be in love and likes to be able to focus. And that inspires me.”
9. He won’t be on Kim Kardashian’s reality shows because of the backlash about picking out clothes for her.”That was from a place of love. It’s hard when people read things in a lot of different ways. You know, the amount of backlash I got from it is when I decided to not be on the show anymore. And it’s not that I have an issue with the show; I just have an issue with the amount of backlash that I get. Because I just see like, an amazing person that I’m in love with that I want to help.”
Photo Credit: Miss Info
10. He doesn’t want to talk about what kind of dad he’ll be.”I don’t want to explain too much into what my thoughts on, you know, fatherhood are, because I’ve not fully developed those thoughts yet. I don’t have a kid yet… Yeah. Well, I just don’t want to talk to America about my family. Like, this is my baby. This isn’t America’s baby.”
11. Just like us, he loves J-Kwon’s “Tipsy.””This album is moments that I haven’t done before, like just my voice and drums. What people call a rant — but put it next to just a drumbeat, and it cuts to the level of, like, Run-D.M.C. or KRS-One. The last record I can remember — and I’m going to name records that you’ll think are cheesy — but like, J-Kwon, “Tipsy.” People would think that’s like a lower-quality, less intellectual form of hip-hop, but that’s always my No. 1.”
12. The Yeezus album has house influences.”It’s like trap and drill and house. I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house. I think that even ‘Black Skinhead’ could border on house, ‘On Sight’ sounds like acid house, and then ‘I Am a God’ obviously sounds, like, super house.”
13. He thinks he’ll be the next Steve Jobs.”I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z… I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.”
Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly