Kanye West is known lately for his regurgitation of negative attention, of his unwillingness to interview and his decision to at least appear dark, brooding and distant when he appears in public.
And that’s precisely what makes Yeezus, the rapper’s upcoming sixth album, so intriguing. West has gone from an in-the-spotlight hit maker to one disillusioned with what fame has brought him, and what’s getting in the way of him reaching his full potential.
The Internet was abuzz Tuesday night (June 11) when it surfaced that Kanye had, in fact, granted an interview pre-Yeezus release — with the The New York Times. As expected, the five-page chat (accomplished over three days) is full of revealing quotations, strange one-liners and the chronic sense that the only person that holds West up to higher standard and scrutinizes him more than the general public is West himself.
Here are a few of the most classic of Kanye lines from the NYT interview:
1. “Anytime I’ve had a big thing that’s ever pierced and cut across the Internet, it was a fight for justice. Justice. And when you say justice, it doesn’t have to be war. Justice could just be clearing a path for people to dream properly.”
Remember when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift? Yeah, you may have thought he showed remorse for robbing a budding singer of her big awards show moment, but it was actually all for justice, in the name of dreaming properly. #GoodGuyKanyeWest
As an aside, his line telling readers to quit reading if they expected any sort of apology was killer.
2. “Maybe 90 percent of the time it looks like I’m not having a good time.”
At least lately it seems that way. Did you see his promo bits on SNL last month? Every time he’s shown walking through a city street? OK, maybe he’s still seething at that parking sign that got in his way (something wrong / I hold my head), but still. 90 percent might actually be a generous number. I remember seeing him crack a smile at the end of SNL during goodbyes and thinking “Wow, he still has it in him!”
3. “Yeah, kill self. That’s all I have to say. Kill self.”
This in regards to his fashion from a couple years ago that he looks back on now, as someone who apparently takes quite a bit of time to get ready in the morning. Frankly, I think we can all look back five or 10 years at our own fashion and kind of agree. Pink polos, man.
4. “I’m forever the 35-year-old 5-year-old. I’m forever the 5-year-old of something.”
What’s his age again? But seriously, this is accurate. A 5-year-old often does things without thinking of the consequences at that time. The difference is that you wonder if Kanye IS thinking of the consequences and does it anyway. Which, I guess, is still a younger child move.
5. “You know, if Michael Jordan can scream at the refs, me as Kanye West, as the Michael Jordan of music, can go and say, ‘This is wrong.’”
One could take issue with West’s proclamation that he’s music’s Michael Jordan (though with his penchant for saying the wrong things at inopportune times, he might be more like Michael Scott from The Office), but who else would actually be the Jordan of music? Timberlake? Hova? Psy?
Actually, I kind of like that Michael Scott comparison to an extent. Thinks he’s doing the right thing, coworkers always performing damage control, has some fabulous one-liners but is actually quite good at his job when you get down to it. Shoot, maybe Kim will be his Holly and they’ll ride off into the sunset, and the rap game will be so less interesting. I don’t know. Discuss.
6. “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.”
Again, referencing the T-Swift incident. Congratulations, Taylor and MTV. You helped Kanye go full Kanye. Have a cookie.
7. “I want to say that after working with Rick [Rubin], it humbled me to realize why I — even though I produced Watch the Throne; even though I produced Dark Fantasy — why I hadn’t won Album of the Year yet.”
See, he can still be humble! Earlier in the interview, West laments losing out on the coveted GRAMMY for the year’s best album, but it’s because he and super-producer Rick Rubin hasn’t made the worthy album just yet. So what happens when Yeezus doesn’t win either?
8. “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.”
Let’s pause for a moment and think about how fantastic it is that Kanye calls “Tipsy” his No. 1, and about how you finally feel fully justified for loving that song as much as you do.
9. “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.”
Oh, Yeezy, stop being so modest!
10. “I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.”
Is “I Am the Nucleus” the follow-up to “I Am a God”? Can it be? I NEED THIS SONG IN MY LIFE.