You’d just put the record out. Was there pressure from the label or from management to keep going?
No. Even after the arrest I didn’t want to stop working. I owed it to my fans and my staff and the label, to finish what I started. I started an album, I need to finish it. Push it back, but it’s coming out. And that’s just me being the businessman, still wanting to deliver a product. I didn’t want to bitch and whine about it like, “Oh, man, I couldn’t finish this album because I was dealing with some things!” Fuck that.
I was living the album out as I was creating it. When I quit the drugs and was ready to wrap the album, I did three new records that I felt were the conclusion. It was going to end with “All Along,” which is just a very sad song to end an album. I came up with “Ghost,” then “Trapped in My Mind,” then “Don’t Play This Song.” Those records summed up my emotions.
I’m happy that I was able to squeeze out those joints. I don’t think I would have been as proud of the album if I'd ended it with “All Along.” That’s such a sad ending.
Being around Kanye was my escape. Seeing how he throws himself into the studio when he’s stressing about something, I totally admire that. Being around that was therapy for me.
As soon as the album was released you disappeared. What did you do?
Hung out with my mom a bit. Went out to L.A., cleared my head. I had a couple shows here and there, but I wasn't trying to tour.
I imagine you turned down an inordinate amount of money in those months.
Yeah. I turned down a lot of money, man. [Laughs.] Because this shit has never been about the money for me. It was the first time in my life where I took time for myself. I’m not a selfish person, but sometimes you’ve got to be selfish.
At the top of the year you seemed to be spending a lot time in New York with Kanye.
I was at another place, another dark place. Me and my girl had broken up. I wasn’t fully healed yet. And being around Kanye and music was my escape. He’s a sober guy, he has a drink every once in a while, but seeing how he throws himself into the studio when he’s stressing about something, I totally admire that. Being around that was therapy for me.
Are you back together with your lady?
Yeah, we’re solid. I’m just trying to figure out love. I never was really good at it, but when you have someone who loves you so much and can take your good and your bad, and work with you and help you grow—that’s priceless. To have a ride-or-die woman, for somebody that’s in the position I’m in, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Some of your other relationships changed during that time, too. You had a very public parting of ways with your managers.
I wanted to try something new, and I wanted to take control of things myself. Those are still my guys, Pat and Emile, and I'm still going to work with them in the future. When we start working on Man on the Moon III I’ll be calling them up to see if they want to be a part of it. I know Emile is definitely down.
We had an issue, but we’re men and we were able to figure it out and move forward. There’s no hard feelings.
Do you regret announcing it on Twitter?
Somewhat. But it gave me those calls that I’d been wanting, like, “Yeah, I’ve got your attention.” And I’m never one to put shit out there like that.
It seemed a bit out of character for you.
I have a ship and I want to keep that ship strong. The people who are a part of it, I want them to know that they’re a part of something stable. I want to go, musically and with the acting, and I just can’t slow up. I’m not going to sit here and stress about things that can’t be fixed. Or at least things that can’t be fixed right now.
You touched on this with regard to how fame warps the intentions of women, but it also applies to business. Now everyone wants a hand in your pocket, but your original team was down with you when you were the kid that worked at the BAPE store. How do you navigate that?
Easy: Don’t fuck with anyone! [Laughs.] I can manage myself, thank you.