For all his flaws, Kanye West‘s strengths have always been consistent and easily apparent: strong beats, killer samples and, without fail, really great interviews.
The rapper has been largely quiet since the release of ‘Ye’ and ‘Kids See Ghosts’, two of five West-helmed releases conceived at a ranch getaway in Wyoming.
But now he’s given a big interview to The New York Times. It’s an illuminating affair, with Kanye candidly opening up about serious topics like prescription drug addiction and suicide. At other times, West is more blithe, revealing that he hadn’t penned any of the lyrics from ‘Ye’ until eight days before the album’s release, yet still finding time to see Deadpool 2… twice.
Here are the best – and most Kanye-esque – quotes from the interview.
On the merits of letting go:
At the start of the chat, Kanye details a meeting with celebrity life coach Tony Robbins, who instructed him to “get into a warrior pose and scream”.
“I was so self-conscious about the nanny and the housekeeper that I didn’t want them to hear me screaming in the living room,” Kanye says. “I think that that’s such a metaphor of something for the existence of so-called well-off people that they’re not really well-off — they won’t even scream in their own house.”
On his rivalry with Drake:
Kanye and Drake have always had a love/hate relationship, with West a major influence and forebear for the Toronto rapper’s career. With Drizzy dominating the charts these days in the same way as Kanye did before him, many have suggested that Drake may have finally usurped his hero.
But instead of watching his throne, Kanye appears okay with the power shift.
“It was this thing where it’s like OK, you’re not the number one rapper, Drake’s the number one rapper, but you’re the number one with shoes,” he says. “It’s like yo, no more number ones. What’s the number one tree over there? Just be one of them. All of them are beautiful.”
On why he just likes Trump:
Clarifying that he doesn’t “agree with all” of Trump’s policies, Kanye paints his love for the President as something innate and unquestioning.
“Having a political opinion that’s overly informed, it’s like knowing how to dress, as opposed to being a child — ‘I like this’,” Kanye argues. “I hear Trump talk and I’m like, I like the way it sounds”.
On why he doesn’t want to marry Hillary Clinton:
Despite fundraising for Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election, Kanye says he felt “castrated” by being pressuring into supporting the candidate, comparing the situation to being in the “sunken place” from Get Out.
“It was like an arranged marriage or something. And I’m like, that’s not who I want to marry. I don’t feel that.”
On being cancelled:
At one point during the interview, Kanye stops to talk a call from his close friend and collaborator Virgil Abloh, who he asks of the public response to his album: “I’m not canceled out the culture? People are listening to it?”
Kanye seems to understand that some fans may have abandoned him over his controversial views.
“I’m cancelled because I didn’t cancel Trump… I set the video game on the hardest setting possible, the most hate possible,” he says, and at one point stating: “I believe in the court of public opinion that that thought has to change.”
On not being sorry about using ghostwriters:
During the interview, Kanye admits that artists like Drake, CyHi the Prynce, Consequence and Malik Yusef wrote lyrics for ‘Ye’. He’s not ashamed about it, though.
“We’re not pulling off a magic trick here. We’re like Tesla, we’re not ‘The Prestige’,” he asserts, adding that he contacted Cardi B‘s co-writer after hearing one of her lyrics: “I was just like, that’s something that I would have thought of and would like to say”.
On how artists are like toddlers:
Kanye argues that being himself has made him a better artist “because I got my voice back” and that he had been previously “living inside of some universe that was created by the mob-thought”
“That’s one of the great privileges of an artist,” he adds. “An artist should be irresponsible in a way – a three-year-old.”
On getting liposuction:
Kanye recently admitted to undergoing liposuction surgery after being fat-shamed by TMZ. In this interview, he explains: “As holy as I am and all that shit, I still do some rich shit sometimes.”
On how his life is like second-hand clothing:
Throughout the interview, Kanye takes a very Zen approach to the problems in his personal and public life, embracing all the controversies and missteps.
He offers up a very handy metaphor to explain how he sees life right now.
“My existence is selvedge denim at this point, it’s a vintage Hermès bag. All the stains just make it better.”