Everything We Learned From Kanye West's ‘Drink Champs’ Interview

Ye ditched the mask and the silence that has defined much of the 'Donda' era for a two-and-a-half-hour, headline-spurring interview on 'Drink Champs.'

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Until Thursday night’s Drink Champs interview, the Donda era was largely characterized by silence, at least in the literal sense. The performance art events in Atlanta and Chicago, particularly the second one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August, carried palpable volume of the emotional variety.

Adding to the presentation both before and after Donda’s release was the use of a variety of masks, including some that were arguably inspired by French crime fiction character Fantômas. The Donda era made a shift on Thursday, however, with the arrival of a Drink Champs interview that runs nearly two and a half hours.

Below, we’ve put together a detailed rundown of highlights (including time stamps) from the conversation, the full version of which you can watch above.

Time stamps: 11:30, 14:25

Ye was asked if he’s caught any of the Verzuz battles, prompting him to confirm that he has indeed. Then he answered the inevitable question of whether he would ever “step into that ring.” West said he “absolutely” would, then outlined his vision for how that might look.

“But I would need about like four people to go against me at one time,” he said. “I need producers, I need people who make good albums, I need people who make radio hits, I need every single Gemini—specifically, [every Gemini] MC.” He then poured himself some Hennessy.

Asked who would win in a hypothetical Verzuz with Drake, Ye answered broadly.

“I’m winning every situation,” he said, later proposing the idea of a month-long Verzuz pitting him against other artists, as well as a Verzuz format in which he goes against himself in an album-against-album approach.

Speaking further on Drake, and confirming he would “absolutely” accept the offer to go against him in a Verzuz, Ye again predicted victory.

“It already happened,” he said around the 14:25 mark. “He played one of my leaked songs and it was better than every other song this year.”

Time stamp: 1:27:00

Asked to pick a personal favorite between Big Sean or Pusha-T, Ye held up a fake a tombstone and joked about signing the former.

“When I die, on my tombstone it’s gonna say ‘I deserve to be here because I signed Big Sean,’” he said. Asked to elaborate, he bluntly continued, “I’m saying that the worst thing I’ve ever done is sign Big Sean.”

Sean was quick to respond on Twitter, saying he’s “not political” and that “none” of Ye’s remarks were true and he “doesn’t even know what he talking about.”

“I’m rollin 😂,” Sean said. Later, the Detroit rapper said he “can’t wait” to go on Drink Champs himself.

The dems? No I didn’t. I didn’t get used by anybody or endorse anyone publicly at all. Cause I’m not political. That’s what’s hilarious, none of it’s true n he doesn’t even know what he talking about. I’m rollin 😂

— Sean Don (@BigSean) November 5, 2021

I can’t wait to go on drink champs now!!!

— Sean Don (@BigSean) November 5, 2021

Time stamp: 5:06

Speaking on his recent travels, Kanye mentioned Lisbon, stating he had to go through the Portugal capital to get to Paris. “I traveled to Paris, like, a couple weeks ago and I had to go through Lisbon because you can go through Lisbon without being vaccinated,” Ye said. “I only have one of the shots, so I’m half-ccinated.”

To be clear, being fully vaccinated is the way to go. If you still haven’t gotten your shots, click here to make an appointment.

Time stamp: 1:49:00

Kid Cudi, whose new documentary hit Amazon Prime on Friday, came out on top when Ye was asked to pick between his Kids See Ghosts collaborator and Travis Scott.

“Kid Cudi because Travis is a mix of me, Cudi, and [ASAP Rocky],” Kanye said.

Immediately after, West was asked to pick between Lil Baby or DaBaby—who both appeared prominently on Donda—and landed on Lil Baby. Other comparison prompts saw Ye picking Wu-Tang Clan over N.W.A, Funk Flex over Kid Capri, and Ghostface Killah over Raekwon.

Time stamps: 15:55, 51:55, 55:20

In addition to speaking about Drake at multiple points in the interview, just before the 52-minute mark Ye addressed perceived lyrical slights against him on the Certified Lover Boy artist’s 2018 “Sicko Mode” feature.

“I put everybody on a group text,” Yeezy said. In this group text—according to Ye—were Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian West, Kid Cudi, Pusha-T, Drake, and Travis Scott. From there, he seemingly referenced Jay at one point being involved with the song, then mentioned a more recent CLB track that had fans revisiting the Drake and Ye beef.

At some point in this group text, per Ye, he told the others, “I’m worth more than all of y’all on this text combined.” From there, Ye connected this portion of the conversation back to Kim.

“I had this conversation where Drake is like, ‘You know I never fucked Kim,’” he said around the 55:20 mark. “But I was like, but you acted like you did. … The anticipation of something is what we live in. Now is the shortest moment of our life. The now that was just there is gone now. So you could be sitting there like, ‘Did he? Did he not?’ That’s worse.”

Elsewhere, Ye reflected on the psychological aspects of how Drake operates in a feud, comparing it to war strategy.

“Drake don’t do a diss like an outright diss song where it’s a headshot,” he said around 16 minutes in. “He’s gonna set it up like war. … He gonna do stuff like live five blocks down the street from you and he’s gonna go and, like, DM every single girl in your family, every single girl around your family.”

Time stamp: 45:55

“Everybody that supposedly cared for me knew I had 10 contracts,” Ye said when looking back on his decision to speak out about—and share receipts concerning—contractual issues on Twitter back in September of last year

Asked to clarify if he was still on Def Jam, Ye said he isn’t. “Oh, I’m off of it now, but what I’m saying is, I signed contract after contract after contract after contract.”

Time stamp: 59:47

“I was Ye, and then they started making more Ye’s,” he said, stating that now is the “perfect time” to come back.

“Watch this,” West added. “Ye is like this encompassing thing of fashion, bars, beats, production, videos. And then what happened is you get Rocky dressing better than me, Tyler making better videos, Drake [selling] more records, Virgil [getting a] higher position in fashion, J. Cole [going] more backpack, or Kendrick [having] better bars and stuff.”

At that point he compared himself to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s No. 1 menace. “I literally had to go Thanos and I don’t want to have to be the villain. But when I went and did the Donda thing, Ye returned and everybody had to sit back and watch the real leader.”

Time stamp: 1:12:50

Deeper into the Drink Champs chat, around the 73-minute mark, Ye spoke on how he views the impact of Soulja Boy. “Soulja Boy is top five most influential and I’m not gonna argue with you n***as about this at all,” West said. “But Soulja Boy [is] top five as far as to what we are today.”

Asked why he chose to leave Soulja off Donda, Ye offered a simple reason: verse quality. “You ain’t hear that verse?” he asked, laughing. Shortly after, however, he again praised the “Crank That” artist. “I tell you what though, Soulja Boy is the future though,” he said.

Time stamp: 1:20:45

Asked to choose between former G.O.O.D. Music artist Common or multi-time collaborator Talib Kweli (and bandmate of fellow former G.O.O.D. artist Yasiin Bey), Ye opted for the former, albeit with a caveat.

“Definitely Common. … Common is a thousand times better rapper than Kweli,” he said. “You asked me my opinion. My opinion is that everybody knows that Common [is better]. The only thing I don’t like about Common is he, like, works for the Democrats. … John Legend-ass n***as, bro.”

As for Kweli, Ye didn’t take kindly to his “Get ’Em High” collaborator criticizing him over his embrace of MAGAisms.

“Man, you can’t tell me what I’m going through in my life. … If you take the average 99 percent of people and say, ‘Do you wanna be Kweli or do you wanna be Ye?’ More people are gonna wanna be Ye, Kweli,” he said of the Black Star member. “What you talking about? So like you told that man, don’t give me no advice. Go open a book, read yourself to death.”

Time stamps: 1:27:55, 1:52:05

“Both John Legend and Big Sean, when I ran for office, got used by the Democrats to come at they boy who actually changed they life,” West said around the 88-minute mark. “That’s some sellout shit. I don’t rock with neither of them and I need my apologies.”

Closer to the two-hour mark, Ye joked that Legend is “gonna always show up and do whatever them folks tell him to do.”

Time stamp: 1:18:45

“You know, SNL making my wife say ‘I divorced him’ on TV ’cause they just wanted to get that bar off, and I ain’t never even seen the papers,” Ye said when speaking on the larger issue, as he sees it, of what gets attention in headlines and beyond. “We not even divorced. So how we—’cause that ain’t no joke to me. My kids want they parents to stay together. I want us to be together. If you look at the media, that’s not what they promoting. That’s not what they want. They want it to be a new wedding, a new episode, a new TV show.” 

Ye also targeted “people all around, in my wife ear,” like a publicist who works with Kim, stating firmly he isn’t a fan.

“I don’t fuck with her,” he said of the unnamed rep.

Kanye West regarding his relationship with Kim Kardashian on “Drink Champs”

“We not even divorced” pic.twitter.com/Pyuabu2tvD

— SAINT (@saint) November 5, 2021

Time stamp: 3:15

N.O.R.E asked Ye about having told him over the phone prior to the interview that he “[doesn’t] even have a house.” After laughing a bit, West went deeper on what he meant by this.

“I restore houses,” he said. “I’m very into architecture but I’m not into the class system. That’s the one of the main things they use to control us. … I remember saying, I was arguing with this one publicist and I told the person that I wasn’t gonna have a house and they spazzed on me. They said, ‘You’ve done too much in your life to not have a house. You need a house.’ [They] tried to impose that idea. But my home is just when my daughter FaceTimes me. That’s where my home is.”

Asked about staying in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta during the Donda rollout, Ye continued, “You know, it’s this idea, this monk lifestyle. I heard that there’s, like, trust fund kids that’s kinda on the same wave right now, being homeless on purpose.”

Time stamp: 1:55:25

Reflecting on a Throne era disagreement he had with Jay-Z, Ye noted that he felt, at the time, he was giving up songs off his own album while Jay wouldn’t do the same.

“I took ‘New Day’ off my next album,” he said around 115 minutes in. “I took ‘Otis’ off my next album. And we got into this big argument because he had this song called ‘Holy Grail’ that he had Justin Timberlake singing on, and I was like, ‘We need to put this on this album.’ And then he’s like, ‘Nah.’ And that’s why—everybody knows Jay is very selfish.”

Asked to clarify if this was among their bigger fallouts, Kanye added, “We fell out many times, that’s my brother.”

Time stamp: 1:31:00

Hitting the 91-minute mark, Ye was hit with a choice between Jay-Z and Dame Dash, purely “on the CEO level.” 

“Absolutely, thousand-percent Dame Dash, because Dame Dash the visionary,” he said. “He’s the original Black hipster. I’m the devil’s worst nightmare. I’m Dame Dash with money and I’m also Jay and Dame combined. That’s why I’m still here.”

Time stamp: 1:14:50

About 75 minutes in, Yeezy took the conversation back to some Atlanta history, stating that Bone Crusher marked a shift.

“Let me tell you about when Atlanta took over rap,” Ye said. “Bone Crusher was the moment it changed. That’s when Atlanta took over. You gotta understand I’m like [the] Kobe, LeBron, or Michael Jordan or Phil Jackson of rap. I study. I understand the game also.”

Bringing Goodie Mob and OutKast’s impact into the discussion, Ye said their output wasn’t as “street” as T.I., who appeared on the 2003 Bone Crusher hit “Never Scared” with Killer Mike.

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Time stamp: 1:33:50

“I still owe Beanie and I’ve been trying to give him this money for a minute,” Ye explained around 94-minute mark. “He made up the name Yeezy. He used to call me Yeezy. … People who took a liking to me in volatile situations would always give me a nickname so it seemed like I was cool like them.”

Beanie, West added, “embraced” him at a pivotal moment earlier in his career, resulting in the Yeezy nickname now utilized across a variety of mediums.

Time stamp: 1:15:55

“The orphanage that I’m creating [is] called Donda, named after my mom because my mom saved my life,” West said around 76 minutes into the Drink Champs chat when speaking on his oft-criticized messaging on reproductive rights. “My mom was like, I’m keeping Kanye.”

Ye then equated abortions with Black deaths and mentioned Margaret Sanger, who opened the first birth control clinic in America in 1916. “We are still inside our genocide,” West said.

As for the orphanage plans, Kanye referred to a “Plan A” strategy that will incorporate the ideas of Dr. Sebi, who died in 2016 and was not a doctor.

While Planned Parenthood has, including in recent years, acknowledged Sanger’s “racist legacy,” Ye’s previous comments comparing abortion (which is factually not murder) to genocide have been widely condemned by reproductive health advocates.

“Any insinuation that abortion is Black genocide is offensive and infantilizing,” Nia Martin-Robinson, director of Black Leadership and Engagement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Billboard last year. “The real threat to Black communities’ safety, health, and lives stems from lack of access to quality, affordable health care, police violence and the criminalization of reproductive health care by anti-abortion opposition.”

Time stamp: 1:43:18

Ye was asked to make a pick between Just Blaze or Swizz Beatz. Ye went with Swizz, explaining that the Blueprint era still solidifies this choice for him.

“Just Blaze is a copycat, you know, he get credit for The Blueprint and I did the first half of The Blueprint, and he just copied my half,” West answered, garnering laughs, about his “Touch the Sky” collaborator. “Look where I’m at today and look where he at today. So that should show you.”

Speaking further on his preference for “originators,” Ye also brought Travis Scott into this facet of the talk, saying he’s told the Astroworld artist before that he copied him.

“I love you, but just know what it is,” he said.

Time stamp: 2:18:05

Toward the end of the interview, Ye proposed what he billed as either Black Future Month and/or Black Possibility Month.

“Put this on Black Twitter right now, Ye says cancel Black History Month,” he said. “Why? I need Black Future Month, I need Black Possibility Month. I’m tired of seeing us getting hosed down. I’m tired of talking about slavery and how we should only be so lucky to vote for a woman we ain’t seen since the election.”

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