In January 2013, just a few months before Kanye West gave a rather, um, eccentric interview to the New York Times, the rapper/producer sat down to talk to director and producer Jeff Broadway for a documentary about Stones Throw Records called Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton.
Some clips from the conversation were used in the film, and more were released as "B-Side" footage the following year—including the part where Yeezy discussed working with Madlib on "No More Parties In L.A." back during the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions.
But on Tuesday night, Hypebeast released the full, uncut interview. Clocking in at 22 and a half minutes, it's an amazing document of an artist looking back at his underground roots, but also fully immersed in his superstar present.
At the beginning of the interview, West gives a full account of meeting the late legendary producer J. Dilla at Common's house. "I just remember looking at that MPC [drum machine], and thinking, 'Those drums came out of that MPC,'" he remembers. Full of admiration, he calls Dilla's sounds "arguably the best drums in hip-hop history. It felt like drugs. His music sounded like good pussy. [...] What Margiela was to fashion, Dilla was to music."
Talk of Dilla leads, naturally enough, to discussion about the Slum Village member's hometown of Detroit, and then to that city's most famous musical export. West says the Motown sound is his all-time favorite, but that it has some competition.
"My favorite record label of all time is Motown," he says. "That era of music was my favorite. [But] my favorite artist is James Brown. I also love Stax." He then compares the rivalry between the slick Motown sound and the rougher r&b of Memphis' Stax Records to a later pair of record labels. "To me, Motown and Stax were kind of like Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders at [their] height," he explains.
West goes on to talk about the sometimes difficult positions artists have to put themselves in ("Raphael painted a Jesus' wife in that last supper, knowing the Pope was going to kill him," West says); compares filmmakers to rappers; shares his thoughts on Dilla and Madlib's 2003 collaborative album Jaylib; and even finds time to diss the American Music Awards ("You're like, 'Why the fuck would I watch this?'")
But perhaps the quintessential Kanye moment comes as West is discussing the need to stay true to hip-hop's roots.
"You can never forget about what hip-hop is about, what Public Enemy is about," he says. "Fuck a Maybach, you know?" Then he takes an almost imperceptible pause. "Respect to the Maybach family, because I know them."