One of the great interviewees of our time
Every couple of years we get a really great Kanye West interview. There was the Zane Lowe one in 2013, which saw the rapper argue: “If you’re a Kanye West fan, you’re a fan of yourself”. Then there was another in 2015 in which he compared his album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ to a Thanksgiving dinner.
Kanye’s latest interview-de-force comes in the form of a hour and a half chat with radio host Charlamagne Tha God. Following recent controversial statements and a backlash from many of his peers, the extended chat provides a fascinating look at the inner workings of West’s mind. You may not necessarily agree with him, but it’s still an undoubtedly interesting watch.
Here are the highlights and biggest revelations.
Kanye thinks Trump’s win is what makes America great
Kanye has caused controversy recently by saying that he “loves” Donald Trump and posting photos of himself in a Make America Great Again hat. After backtracking and saying that he doesn’t like “half the shit” Trump says, in this interview he explains his stance further.
“When he was running, I felt something,” West explains. “The fact that he won proves something, that anything is possible in America.” Kanye goes on to say that Trump’s election win “proved” that he too could successfully run for office. “When I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that,” Ye adds. “It’s a time for the unconventional”.
Asked about accusations of racism levelled at Trump, Kanye says that racism wasn’t necessarily a “deal breaker” because America is racist.
He also speaks about his reasons for meeting with Trump in 2016, saying: “I’m not going to let myself off easy by saying I met with Trump because I was going through something… This was the Ye that wanted to change something, and I would meet with him today, and I would talk about Chicago. First.
A Kanye Presidency would also take inspiration from Bernie Sanders
Having first suggested that he would run to be President in 2020, Kanye recently appeared to push back his political ambitions to 2024 (presumably offering support for a Trump second term in the process).
On what his campaign would be like, Kanye says: “Maybe the Trump’s campaign and maybe the Bernie Sanders principles. That would be my mix of stuff. But I think both are needed”.
He sees his “breakdown” as a “breakthrough”
Kanye was hospitalised “for his own health and safety” back in November 2016, with reports at the time citing “severe sleep deprivation” as the reason for the hospitalisation. West was eventually released from hospital in December of that year and recently suggested that he had been “addicted to opioids”.
Speaking to Charlamagne about the current state of his mental health, Ye says: “I think I’m in a stronger place than I ever was – after the breakdown or as I like to say, the breakthrough.” He goes on to say that his hospitalisation had been triggered by a combination of “fear, stress, control, being controlled, manipulation, like being a pawn or a chess piece in life, stressing things that create validation that I didn’t need to worry about as much, you know, just the concept of competition and being in competition”.
“I just wanted to say like there was elements about going to the hospital and having a breakdown or a breakthrough that was fire,” he adds. “It was incredible, the feeling.”
Kanye also says that he hopes to tackle the “stigma” surrounding mental health issues. “I wanna change the stigma of mental health, period.” he explains. “Best believe I’m gonna take the stigma off the word ‘crazy’. People will take something that’s enlightened, put it in a different context, and then call it ‘crazy’ to try to diminish the impact and the value of what I’m actually saying.”
West also reveals that while he is currently on medication, he doesn’t go to therapy because he sees the “world” as his therapist.
Kanye’s hospitalisation made him lose confidence for the first time
“One of the things that was incredible when I got out of the hospital was, I had lost my confidence,” Ye explains. “And you could see it, that’s why they kept saying sunken place and all this stuff. And wow. I never had the empathy for people who lacked confidence. I had so much of it, I didn’t know what it was like to be without it.”
“It just wasn’t Black Panther/Superman level confidence,” he adds. “I didn’t have my confidence. So that superpower—if I was homeless, any situation—you could take everything. You could Black Mirror me. You could put shit on the media and say Ye fucked a goat… and you would not take my confidence away.”
Kanye was hurt by Jay-Z skipping his wedding
Despite their strained friendship in recent years, Jay-Z has recently spoke about patching things up with West, saying that the pair were on speaking terms again and going as far as to call Ye his “little brother”.
Questioned about his current relationship with his former mentor, Kanye says: “I haven’t seen him, but I can feel him”. He adds that he that he was “hurt” by Jay-Z and Beyoncé not attending his wedding to Kim Kardashian in 2014.
Asked whether they skipped the wedding because they disliked Kim and the Kardashian family or if it was because they were dealing with their own marital problems at the time, Kanye replies: “I understand they was going through something. But if it’s family, you’re not going to miss a wedding. That and then another thing happens and another thing happens. You start coming up with other crazy things in your head.”
On whether he felt sorry for speaking out publicly about the couple, Kanye reasons that he didn’t go too far if they are to be consider as his “family”, but did if Jay only considers him his “business partner”.
Kanye wants Obama to apologise to him
West was famously called a “jackass” by then-President Obama in 2009 following the Taylor Swift controversy at the MTV VMAs. Obama later added in 2012 that while West was indeed “a jackass”, he was also “smart” and “very talented”.
Appearing still hurt by the comment, Kanye tells Charlamagne: “You know, he never called me to apologise. The same person that sat down with me and my mom, I think should’ve communicated to me directly and been like, ‘Yo, Ye, you, you know what it is. I’m in the room and it was just a joke’.”
West also gives his thoughts on why Obama may have had a negative impression of him. “I just think that we were in a period where he had so much stuff to deal with, he couldn’t deal with a wild card like me,” he argues. “I think that’s too unpredictable. Someone that wasn’t being controlled by strategy and thoughts, but someone who’s acting on feelings.”
He goes on to claim that Obama once called him his “favourite” artist, saying: “Obama came to me before he ran for office, and he met with me and my mother to let me know he was gonna run for office, because I am his favourite artist of all time, because I am the greatest artist of all time.”
“You know I’m your favourite, but I’m not safe,” he adds. “But that’s why you love me. So just tell me you love me, and tell the world you love me. Don’t tell the world I’m a jackass. I’m fighting hard enough. Something about me going on stage was similar to what you were doing, because I’m fighting to break the simulation.”
Despite all this and despite recently criticising Obama’s record in office, Kanye says that any shortcomings from Obama’s eight years were “not his fault”, adding: “You seen that gray hair on that man? It took everything in that man’s spirit and soul to not mention racism in every sentence.”
Describing Obama as “perfect”, he also compares the former President to Nike: “I felt like Obama was perfect. He was almost like Nike. Or Nike when I was at Nike.”
Kanye feels like he could have prevented Kim Kardashian’s robbery
West now says he believes the criminals waited to target Kim after he had left Paris after initially accompanying her on the trip to “protect her” and “help her with with her looks”.
“One of the things she said that she heard is that they were coming to rob her and they had to wait until I had left,” Kanye tells Charlamagne. “The people had been strategising and scheming on that for a long time.”
Kanye didn’t just interrupt Taylor Swift for Beyoncé
Blaming the “Taylor Swift moment” on his lack of radio play in recent years, Kanye later says of the infamous 2009 MTV VMAs incident: “It’s not that I’m particularly fighting for Beyoncé’s video. It’s every time award show has ever done that, just fuckin’ with artists. We are HSP, highly sensitive people. That’s what you love about us.”
He adds: “You’re gonna line up a whole bunch of artists and put us in some bum-ass suits and shit – we dressed like we 200 years ago – [and we’re] lined up trying to wait for a gold statue. And you gonna make us feel like shit? There’s five of us, and four of us gotta go to our restaurant with our friends and be like, ‘Man, we ain’t win nothin’.’ Fuck that. Man, fuck that.”
Kanye sees Twitter as allowing Ye to be Ye
“The thoughts that I’m getting out on Twitter now, I want to use this platform to share some of the breakthroughs I’ve had since going to the hospital,” Kanye says.
He goes on to acknowledge: “There will be mistakes, there will be flaws in the way I communicate. Because we’re human beings, we’re flawed. I’m not media trained. I’m not studied in that. I’m not trying to say the right thing. I’m just trying to say exactly what I feel out of love.”
Even Kanye uses Bitcoin
“That was the moment I wanted to use bitcoin,” Kanye explains at one point, “when I saw Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill…Why you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? Put Michael Jordan on the $20 bill.”
Kanye wants to change the world with his Yeezy brand
West has taken to Twitter in recent weeks to outlines his plans for Yeezy, which so far has predominantly produced shoes and apparel. In this interview, he sets his ambitions even higher, saying that he intends to offer free clothes to those in times of crisis and wants to “develop cities”.
Kanye thinks Old Kanye would love New Kanye
“I think he’d be happy, satisfied, and he would believe it,” Kanye says when asked what ‘College Dropout’-era Ye would think of himself today. “You know how people say they wouldn’t believe it? I always believed it. We’re standing on my first property. I’m going to be one of the biggest real estate developers of all time, what Howard Hughes was to airplanes and what Henry Ford was to cars.”
Watch the interview in full below.
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