8 Takeaways From Kanye's 'Hollywood Unlocked' Interview
Kanye West’s full interview with Jason Lee of 'Hollywood Unlocked' is here, and he’s once again provided fans and critics alike with plenty to unpack.
Kanye West’s full interview with Jason Lee of Hollywood Unlocked is here, and he’s once again provided fans and critics alike with plenty to unpack.
The wide-ranging, nearly 45-minute conversation covers everything from his issues with Big Sean to his separation from Kim Kardashian. Delivering plenty of memorable quotes along the way, Ye recalled moments like personally flying out a laptop for Kim, and the time Bernie Sanders “refused” to meet with him.
We’ve rounded up the biggest moments from the interview, which you can check out below.
Time stamps: 5:23, 20:45, 21:40
Kanye spoke very highly of the Drink Champs team from his time on the show, chiefly praising how they “listened” to him and then suggesting that two of his closest friends, Big Sean and John Legend, had not.
“This is my biggest issue with Big Sean and John Legend...they on that train of like, trying to—they just went too easy,” he said. “I changed both of these people’s lives and they’re about that, ‘Oh don’t pay attention, he’s a rapper, he’s this.’ And it’s like yeah I’m a rapper and obviously I’m a genius too, and yeah this is America.’” He trailed off, talking about custody disputes in the United States, before looping back around to the two G.O.O.D. Music associates later down the line.
His comments likely refer to when he said signing Big Sean to G.O.O.D. Music was “the worst thing I’ve ever done,” and the Detroit rapper’s subsequent response. Legend, meanwhile, made it clear they had some major disagreements about politics in 2019.
“I love John Legend, I love Big Sean, I love these people,” he said. “But people gotta know, man, you can’t be like down on someone that changed your life in public. Whether they’re the godfather or not…especially not in the middle of when I’m running for office.” He also suggested that he lobbied against record label executives who wanted to drop Sean.
Time stamps: 3:15, 6:00, 7:09, 22:48, 23:53, 29:26, 43:30
Kanye has strong feelings on the custody of his children, saying it’s rare for men to get fair custody following a divorce or separation. He told the story of how security at Kim K’s property stopped him when he was visiting to see their children, which prompted him to get in contact with his cousins to help with the situation.
“Took my kids back, I’m driving them and North is like, ‘I want you to come upstairs and see something,’” he said. “I’m hearing that the new boyfriend is in the house, where I can’t go to.” He said he wanted his cousins to speak with Kim because he wanted to avoid arguments, and told them to make sure security doesn’t get “between me and my kids.” He also wanted to protest Kim letting their daughter make content on TikTok, at least without his approval first.
“The American mindset, it’s like 99 percent female custody,” he continued. “My expectation is to say, ‘Look, we ain’t gonna be playing these little games.’” He implied there’s a narrative to paint him as “crazy,” and that anytime he gets emotional he’s dubbed as such. “I wasn’t crazy when I put the creative director at [Kim K’s] SKIMS.”
He compared his separation with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett’s public marriage issues. “We not going full Will and Jada because everybody got problems on both sides and it don’t need to be aired out. … Certain things, it’s just not finna happen, I’m gonna step up,” Ye said, keeping his comments vague.
He circled back to the topic near the end of the chat, and indicated he’s not going to let anything stop him from loving his children.
“They can plant stories about whoever I’m dating, whatever they want to do,” he continued. “They can block deals. They can do all that type of stuff. But I’mma tell you straight up: Don’t play. Don’t play with my kids, don’t play with my kids. Whoever y’all work for, whoever you think your family is working for, I’m telling you right now. Don’t play with my children and it’s gonna be all legal, baby. … You ain’t finna gaslight me.”
Time stamps: 8:55, 9:26
This month a video circulated of Kanye getting into an altercation with autograph seeker 40-year-old Justin Poplawski. At one point it was speculated Ye assaulted a fan who hounded him for a signature, but West told Lee the individual was not a fan at all.
“I ended up getting into an altercation with the individual that wanted to make money off my autographs,” he said. “He had this real attitude...I’ma just tell you, that blue COVID mask didn’t stop that knockout.”
Ye was later “named suspect” in the alleged misdemeanor battery incident by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Time stamps: 11:06, 11:28
During what Kanye affectionately dubbed his “red hat” era, he said he wanted to meet with possible Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders.
“I always wanted to meet with Bernie Sanders and he refused to meet with me, but I always thought that there were things that he agreed with that the earlier administration agreed with,” West said. “Bernie met with Cardi but wouldn’t meet with me. … I just felt like, if I’m this polarizing of a character, why not meet with us?”
Time stamps: 15:18, 33:00
Kanye and Drake put aside their issue at the Free Larry Hoover benefit concert late last year, but some fans speculated Ye “tricked” Drizzy into performing a Verzuz style event. Lee jokingly suggested the same in the interview which Kanye quickly fought back against.
“No, I did not, man. … This man wrote my setlist,” he clarified, later explaining they almost wore matching Virgil Abloh-designed Jordans at the show. “Me and Drake was gonna wear Virgil Jordans at the show.”
Time stamps: 30:16, 31:22, 32:35, 33:28
Kanye caught a lot of criticism when he wore Donald Trump’s infamous “Make America Great Again” hat, and it became a major talking point for multiple years.
“I wore the hat for the freedom of opinion,” he told Lee. “My mom was born into a drinking fountain, she was told what fountain she could drink in. My family fought for the right to vote, and I fought for the right to choose who we vote on.”
He was asked if he’s reflected on why people were upset about the MAGA hat, and stopped short of saying he understood, but ultimately admitted responsibility. “I will say, I take responsibility for the fact that it hurt people’s feelings,” he said. “I believe now, that people…not just Black people but people across the board...you have to let Ye be Ye.”
Time stamp: 35:50
Kanye’s ill-fated 2020 presidential campaign, which saw him rack up only 60,000 or so votes nationwide, wasn’t exactly a resounding success. But from the sound his Hollywood Unlocked interview, it appears he’s not giving up on a political career.
“I am a future president,” he told Lee. “It might not be two to three years from now, but ain’t never been a situation I went in that I didn’t make better. I’m an industrialist! I opened the first sportswear factory in America since World War II.”
Ye previously expressed interest in running in 2024, but he has yet to officially announce anything.
Time stamp: 41:35
Talking about his separation from Kim Kardashian again, Kanye said he personally “went and got the laptop from Ray J,” a claim connected to a recent rumor of an unreleased sex tape. According to Kanye, he did it amid Kim’s Saturday Night Live hosting gig. (Three weeks prior, Wack 100 publicized the fact he allegedly had a “part two” tape starring Kim and Ray J. However, West and Kardashian’s lawyer Marty Singer said at the time that the “claim that there is an unreleased sex tape is unequivocally false.”)
“How you gonna bring me to SNL and kiss the dude you dating right in front of me?” said Ye, referring to Pete Davidson. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ After I went and got the laptop from Ray J that night, right? I met this man at the airport, then got on the red eye, came back...delivered it to her at 8 a.m. in the morning. I gave it to her, and she cried when she saw it. You know why she cried when she saw that laptop? It represents how much she’s been used. … It represents how much people didn’t love her, they just saw her as a commodity.”
He said Kim is “the most transacted-upon being other than Santa Claus or Jesus Christ,” although he stressed this in a more sympathetic way than in a critical fashion.
Since Ye’s comments to Lee, a rep for Kardashian told both Page Six and TMZ that the laptop did not contain a new sex tape involving Kim and Ray J, with sources adding that continued discussion surrounding sex tapes wouldn’t be good for Ye and Kim’s kids, “especially when it’s continued to be brought up in a way that’s thoughtless and intended to cause more pain.” Still, a source claimed that Kim was grateful for Ye’s gesture in getting the laptop.
“After review, there was nothing sexual unseen, only footage on the plane on the way to Mexico and footage at a club and restaurant on the same trip,” the rep said. “Kim remains firm in her belief that there is no new second tape that exists.”