June 12, 2013


Kanye West's 'New York Times' Q&A: 13 Things We Learned

Taylor Hill/WireImage
Taylor Hill/WireImage

Kanye West's Yeezus is less than a week away, and the silence from 'Ye's corner has been deafening. He doesn't care about doing things the old-fashioned way this time, and he's never cared about giving the media the time of day. (Hence why we were salivating for even the tiniest details following a Yeezus listening party earlier this week.) 

Fortunately the New York Times got through the cracks and spent a few days with Kanye in Malibu as he put the finishing touches his fifth solo album. It's an interesting, career-spanning Q&A, and we learned a lot. Here are the 13 most pertinent bits.

1. Kanye has a new definition for himself: "I am a black new wave artist." And later: "I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body."

2. Executive producer Rick Rubin is very excited about Yeezus: "One afternoon, Mr. Rubin exited the studio and declared, to everyone and no one, 'It's un-bee-leave-able what's happening in there,'" writes the Times' Jon Caramanica.

3. 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy catered to what people wanted to hear. Yeezus doesn't, necessarily: "[MBDTF] was the album where I gave people what they wanted. I don't think that at that point, with my relationship with the public and with skeptical buyers, that I could've done 'Black Skinhead' [one of the few Yeezus songs Kanye has debuted so far]."

4. Kanye wrote the amazing, dense College Dropout track "All Falls Down" in less time than it takes to watch an episode of South Park: "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."

5. Kanye loves 808s & Heartbreak for its flaws: "I think the fact that I can’t sing that well is what makes 808s so special."

6. Kanye thinks his presence on Watch the Throne is bleaker than Jay-Z's: "I'm always the one that's in a darker mood."

7. And yeah, Kanye knows he seems sour a lot: "Maybe 90 percent of the time it looks like I'm not having a good time."

8. Kanye always knew he'd be a star: "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. At the time, they used to have the Virgin music [stores], and I would go there and just go up the escalator and say to myself, 'I'm soaking in these last moments of anonymity.' I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen."

9. With a baby with Kim Kardashian on the way, Kanye wants to be a private parent: "I just don't want to talk to America about my family. Like, this is my baby. This isn't America’s baby."

10. Kanye is super aware you're reading about him, and aware you're still interested in the whole Taylor Swift thing: "If anyone's reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now."

11. He's not that into his fashion sense from a half-decade ago: "Yeah, kill self. That's all I have to say. Kill self."

12. Kanye isn't as vain as you think: "The idea of Kanye and vanity are like, synonymous. But I've put myself in a lot of places where a vain person wouldn't put themselves in. Like what's vanity about wearing a kilt?"

13. That said, Yeezy has high hopes for his legacy: "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 think that's a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: 'This is the level that things could be at.' So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it's supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. 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."