Kanye West is gearing up for the release of Yeezus next week and after an incredible listening event last night at Milk Studios, the New York Times has released a full interview with West on his forthcoming album, career, and more.
The NYTimes' Jon Caramanica traveled to Malibu to speak with West in late May/early June at Shangri-la Studio, where he and his collaborators were finishing up Yeezus. West spoke on early inspirations in his career, and in life, including how hanging around Dead Prez was instrumental in discovering his own style.
West admits he has no romantic relationship to the public, and that he has become the anti-celebrity, but he undoubtedly will not let fans, or critics, or the general public, forget the impact he has made on culture. "Respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins," he says. "I understand culture. I am the nucleus."
When discussing Yeezus, West says, "it’s like trap and drill and house" and that he knew going into the project that he wanted the music to have a deep Chicago influence—and with King Louie and Chief Keef features, it makes sense.
Read key excerpts below, and head over to the NYTimes to read the full interview:
"It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is."
"I don’t have one regret... I think that I have like, faltered, you know, as a human. My message isn’t perfectly defined. I have, as a human being, fallen to peer pressure."
On winning Grammy Awards:
"I really appreciate the moments that I was able to win rap album of the year or whatever. But after a while, it’s like: “Wait a second; this isn’t fair. This is a setup.” I remember when both Gnarls Barkley and Justin [Timberlake] lost for Album of the Year, and I looked at Justin, and I was like: “Do you want me to go onstage for you? You know, do you want me to fight”
On 808s & Heartbreak:
"Yeah, different people. They said, “Do it under a different name.” And when it came out, people used to be like, “Man, I wish it had more rapping on it.” But I think the fact that I can’t sing that well is what makes “808s” so special."
On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:
“Dark Fantasy” was my long, backhanded apology. You know how people give a backhanded compliment? It was a backhanded apology. It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics. I was like: “Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.”
On being in love:
"Yeah, that’s what I mean when I say like, “Yo, I’m going to be super Zenned out like, five years from now.” I’m the type of rock star that likes to have a girlfriend, you know? I’m the type of soul that likes to be in love and likes to be able to focus. And that inspires me."
On him and Kim Kardashian's child:
"Well, I just don’t want to talk to America about my family. Like, this is my baby. This isn’t America’s baby."
On working with Rick Rubin:
"I’m still just a kid learning about minimalism, and he’s a master of it. It’s just really such a blessing, to be able to work with him. I want to say that after working with Rick, it humbled me to realize why I hadn’t — even though I produced “Watch the Throne”; even though I produced “Dark Fantasy” — why I hadn’t won Album of the Year yet."
On his fashion choices from years ago:
"Yeah, kill self. That’s all I have to say. Kill self."
"This album is moments that I haven’t done before, like just my voice and drums. What people call a rant — but put it next to just a drumbeat, and it cuts to the level of, like, Run-D.M.C. or KRS-One. The last record I can remember — and I’m going to name records that you’ll think are cheesy — but like, J-Kwon, “Tipsy.” People would think that’s like a lower-quality, less intellectual form of hip-hop, but that’s always my No. 1."
"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."