A US presidential candidate appearing on a popular podcast — nothing unusual about that, is there? Well, if you throw in the fact that in this particular instance the former is Kanye West and the latter is The Joe Rogan Experience, then no: this isn’t your average interview scenario. 2020, you’ve done it again.
West has long been expected to take his bow on the US comedian and commentator’s podcast – which Spotify bought the exclusive rights to earlier this year for a reported $100 million – and Rogan promised that West’s guest appearance, which premiered over the weekend, was worth the wait. “[It’s] beyond my expectations, and I think people are going to have a much better understanding and appreciation of how this man thinks,” the host offered in summation of the episode.
West seemed to believe that the interview itself would mark a major moment in his life. “You know, it’s like the movie,” he told Rogan. “This part, us talking right now, may be a scene from my life’s movie.” Hands up who’s looking forward to that biopic?
Rogan is known for going the distance with his guests, and West was no exception. The pair clocked up nearly three hours of talk time by covering a wide range of subjects, including the rapper and producer’s unlikely bid for The White House, his relationship with God and religion, and his controversial views on abortion and medication. Oh, and he also managed to cite an episode of Black Mirror as a reference point and even found time to briefly explain why he took such a disliking to the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Let’s take a closer look at the big talking points from Kanye West’s debut on The Joe Rogan Experience — or you can delve into the full 177-minute interview below, if you so wish.
Kanye’s own music is starting to make him “feel bad”
Among the “symphony of ideas” (his phrasing) that West covered in his interview was the subject of his own music, during which he recalled how his first gospel albums, ‘Jesus Is King’ and Sunday Service’s ‘Jesus Is Born’, were conceptualised. But he also admitted that he now “feels bad” whenever he hears rap songs — including his own.
“There’s only a billion people on the internet. You never think about that,” he said. “There’s seven-to-eight billion people on earth, but then there’s only a billion people that are influenced and on the internet. It feels like the internet is everything. It’s only like 15, 16, 18% of human beings.
“But… for us to survive, we have to make more human beings. We have family, we have to have food, we have to have shelter. We don’t have to have the internet. We don’t have to have music. That’s a conversation. I mean, it enhances the quality of life — it’s better. But look at the music. Look at the information we’re putting [in] it.
“I feel bad when I hear rap songs. I feel bad [about] even the stuff that I just recently put out.”
He made his own record contracts public because music “loses me money”
Last month, West publicly vented his frustration with the music industry as he voiced his views on record contracts, masters and rights issues, vowing at one point to “free all artists by any means necessary”. While airing these grievances, West tweeted out 114 pages of his own record contracts in an extraordinary move — which, he told Rogan, felt like “the right thing to do”.
“Music, at this point, loses me money,” he said. “It doesn’t make me money. [Of] my $5 billion net worth and $300 million of cash that I see a year – music is like negative $4 million for me.”
West says God called him to be “the leader of the free world”
West’s staunch belief in God was a major theme of the interview, with the rapper explaining that his faith has led him to believe that God has “called me to take this position” as “the leader of the free world”.
“There’s people who say to me: ‘Well, music is bigger, or more influential, than politics, or celebrities are more influential,'” he said. “I thought of it like if I was a pastor of a 100,000-person church, but then I was also a captain, a sailor, and then we went to war and I said: ‘I’m gonna man this ship that has 1000 people on it because God is calling me to take this position’.
“Even though I’m the pastor for however big my audience is in hip-hop, in music or just as an influencer or celebrity, [as] a dad and a husband in my house – there couldn’t be a better time to put a visionary in the captain’s chair. And that’s not to say we haven’t had visionaries before. I’m not here to down Trump, to down Biden – I’m just here to express why God has called me to take this position.”
He believes that “we’re on all medication right now”
West recalled the incident in 2018 where he was hospitalised and subsequently given medication for bipolar disorder shortly after saying that “slavery is a choice” during a TMZ show. He told Rogan that the medication he was given “blocked my ability to channel what God wanted me to do”.
“But we’re all on medication right now,” he claimed. “Did you use toothpaste with fluoride today? It blocks your pinial gland. And they put children on it. We put our kids on it. It’s inside the deodorants we use. It’s all these things to create a disconnect to God, to serve that. Are you serving man, or are you serving the one and only master?
“The main thing that [medication] did is it destroyed my confidence. It made me this shell of who I really am. It greyed over my eyes. It made the mustang not buck anymore. They told me I was bipolar. I remember going on TMZ and saying: ‘Slavery is a choice.’
“They medicated me for saying that, for having that opinion and saying it out loud.”
The reason his presidential campaign started so late? He caught coronavirus
West’s seemingly doomed bid to become US President got off to a shaky start back in July with the announcement that he would be running for office under the banner of ‘The Birthday Party’. West told Rogan that his campaign was a such late-starter because he contracted coronavirus.
“I had the virus, and I was sitting, quarantined in my house, and my cousin texted me about being prepared to run for president,” he recalled. “I just completely put it off to the side ’cause I was, like, shivering, having the shakes, taking hot showers, eating soup. I don’t think it was that bad – I think it was a mild case. [But] it threw everybody’s plans off.”
Despite polling at 2 per cent, the Kanye West For President bandwagon trundles on
While it is almost impossible for West to win the presidency in next week’s US election, the 43-year-old still has confidence in his wilting campaign — saying that “me as President would be the best thing that would ever happen for America’s foreign policy”.
“I’ve travelled more than any President already, and I bring people together,” he added. “I put rivals on songs together to create masterpieces.”
— ye (@kanyewest) October 12, 2020
Speaking about the origins of his ambition to run for president, West said that it was “something that God put in my heart back in 2015; a few days before the MTV Awards it hit me in the shower”.
“When I first thought of it, I just started laughing to myself and all this joy came over my body, through my soul. I felt that energy and spirit,” he recalled. “Two days later, I accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Awards. Instead of performing my array of hit songs, I gave just my perspective on awards shows. I knew at the end, I was going to tell people I’m running for President in 2020. It even took heart to say it in that context and people’s minds were blown.”
West said that, as is still the case in 2020, he encountered a lot of scepticism after revealing his political ambitions on that night five years ago.
“I had different friends — some people in the music industry, some tech elites — and they took it as a joke. They were telling me all these millions of reasons why I couldn’t run for president. I remember running into Oprah two days or one day after that, and she [said]: ‘You don’t want to be President.’ One of my responses to the naysayers was: ‘I’ll definitely be a billionaire by that time.’ Not that that’s a reason why someone should be President…
“At that time, I was $50 million in debt and I knew I had the confidence that I would be able to turn that around.”
He’s going to run for President again in 2024
Oh, you thought that this was just going to be a 2020 thing? Oh no… “I’m definitely 100% winning in 2024,” he told Rogan. “… I was thinking I would possibly be the Democrat.”
Let’s just make it through 2020 first, eh ‘Ye?