Music/Features

Here’s everything you need to know about Kanye West’s new interview

In an interview with Charlamagne tha God, Yeezy talks about his hospitalization, Jay Z and Trump. “[Donald Trump] relates to the nonconformist part of me.”

May 2, 2018

Over the past several weeks, Kanye has given the Internet more than enough to talk about, but you, of course, already knew that. Yesterday, he upped the ante, dropping a massive, 105-minute interview with rap radio figurehead Charlamagne tha God. In it, Kanye talks about well, pretty much everything, shedding light toward his mental breakdown, artistic mindset, and of course, his controversial admiration of Donald Trump.

Depending on how you look at it, his answers provide just as much context for his recent behaviour so much as a they obscure it, but not to worry—we waded through the dense, sprawling interview so that you don’t have to. Here are the Cliffs Notes:

On his mental state these days

Charlamagne starts the interview with the one question that’s been on everybody’s minds, asking West “How are you?”— mentally, he specificies.

Kanye claims to be in a “stronger place”, as he believes that after a “break-down there’s a break-through.” And although he may not be seeing a therapist at the moment, he says he doesn’t need to—he believes “the world is my therapist, anyone I talk to is my therapist,” with him pulling “them into the conversation of what I’m feeling at that point to get their perspective.”

West does admit to being on medication for his mental struggles later in the interview, but shied away from divulging the specifics, only going as far as to call them an “imperfect solution” that, admittedly does manage to calm him down.

The details of his hospitalization

Kanye was quite candid regarding the details of his hospital stay, calling the moment when they separated him from his friends and wheeled him into the elevator “the scariest moment of my life”, saying “They were forced to leave my side […] I cannot express to you how traumatizing that moment is.”

During his stay, Kanye claims that came to think of the hospital workers—especially the Black ones—as his family, and expressed his disappointment and humility in potential fans having to tend to him in such a state, worrying that “I had let them down,” that they would think “That’s ‘Ye in the hospital bed, they can’t break him.” Even during his hospitalization though, this interview was still on Kanye’s mind, with him admitting to the interviewer “I was thinking of you as I was recovering and I thought, ‘Imma go talk to Charlemagne first’”.

On losing his confidence

The humility forced upon him following his hospital stay led to a lack of confidence in Kanye, a state that he copped to not being at all familiar with: “I’ve never had empathy for people who lack confidence, I had so much of it, I didn’t know what it was like to be without it,” although he does admit the perspective he gleaned from this forced humility as “incredible.”

Keep in mind, however, that even an unconfident Kanye probably still has more self-esteem than most, with his morale issues arising from his inability to access what he calls “Black Panther-Superman level confidence.” Fear not (or fear plenty), though, as he later claims “the kryptonite’s gone” and “I got the confidence. Anything is possible.”

How sure is he of this regained confidence? “You could Black Mirror me, put on the media ‘Kanye fucked a goat,’ and you will not take away my confidence.” Yep, that confident.

Kanye West the infomaniac

West claims that his creative drive to stem not from ego or money, but from his seemingly unquenchable thirst for information. Charlamagne asks the candid question of “When was the last time Kanye felt he had something to learn?,” only for West to reply “Every day;” elaborating that “I need information more than I need validation, finance.”

His obsession with information seems borne out of an idea that it is the key to maximizing his potential, believing that “I don’t need to be controlled, I just need to be inspired and informed and I can be the best ‘Ye in that way”. He later professes that “the only thing that can hold me back is a lack of information,” admitting, however, that “information is harder to find than you think, it’s secret codes.”

On his disappointment in Obama

A large chunk of the interview is devoted to West’s thoughts on former President Barack Obama, which, through his meandering, topic-spanning responses, basically seems to boil down to Obama’s lack of apology for famously calling Kanye a “jackass” back in 2009.

West claims that Obama met with him and his mother before his first electoral run, seeking Kanye’s blessing due to him apparently being his “favourite artist of all time,” something which was called into question after Obama’s comments, his lack of apology to Mr. West, and further heated up when West and Jay-Z were set to take the stage at an Obama fundraiser only for Kanye to be informed right before their performance that the then-president had already left.

Kanye further claims to have a problem with Obama over the fact that he’s from Chicago and Chicago is still “the murder capital of the world,” but made it clear that he holds no ill will toward the former President, even mentioning that they’ll probably one day hang out on Richard Branson’s island.

On his past relationships with Jay-Z, Nike, and Scooter Braun

Over the past several years Kanye has left in his wake what seems to be a number of tattered relationships, including his former idol Jay-Z, who ribbed West on last year’s 4:44 cut “Kill JAY-Z,” his employer NIKE, who he left to work for Adidas after devoting diss track “FACTS” to them on The Life of Pablo, and most recently, former manager Scooter Braun. Despite this, West insinuated throughout the interview a deep respect for all three.

Kanye is still disappointed (but understanding) over Jay-Z’s absence from his wedding, and chalked up their beef—brought on complications by Jay cosigning West’s tour deal due to him being in debt—to be a situation where you “did something for someone that was positive but the way you did it blew the whole thing up.” As for the 4:44 callout, West said it was just a single bar in a song, it could’ve been far worse, and that the two are still texting each other “positive energy.”

As for Nike, West deeply apologized to his treatment of CEO Mark Parker following his cutting of ties with the shoe giant, which came by way of a royalty situation where Kanye felt as if “they wouldn’t let me build anything.” Despite the situation, West expressed endless gratitude for the shot that Parker gave him, and that “when my karma comes, I’ll accept it in real time, like Kill Bill.

The recently-fired Scooter Braun, who Kanye described as “my final manager” due to West’s own admittance that “I can’t be managed,” was also propped up by the rapper as a great manager and even bigger influence. West praised Braun’s upbringing in a multiracial household as instilling in Braun a personality that “understands business but also understands how to converse with a black guy like a person,” leading Kanye to deem “Scooter Braun is Kanye West’s gateway to the business and the death of the music industry as we know it.”

He hasn’t seen Get Out

Kanye makes a handful of references to the “sunken place” over the course of the interview, but also admits to having not seen Jordan Peele’s source material from last year—which, uh, given Kanye’s non-response when asked by Charlamagne if he trusts his in-laws, may be something he should get on.

On Trump

When confronted about his continued support of Trump and flirtations with the alt-right over the course of the interview, Kanye’s rationalizations, take them as you will, seem to be rooted more in an admiration for the disruptive influences the current President has had rather than any of his toxic policies, claiming that he “relates to the nonconformist part of me.” West remarks on the post-Trump landscape, with Trump’s divisiveness inspiring a climate of mass expression—“I love people who don’t love him, people are speaking up. Everybody’s expressing themselves and I love it, I’ve been waiting for this moment”—which he, perhaps misguidedly, dubs “The ‘Ye Moment in Time”.

Likening his the reception surrounding his support of Trump to that of Clayton Bigsby, the blind black klansman from Chapelle’s Show, Kanye claimed his support to come from an kinship he relates to in Trump’s meteoric rise to power, telling Charlemagne that “when I see and outsider infiltrate, I connect with that.”

Kanye seems to have little concern for Trump’s concrete political policies or influence, instead seeing in Trump’s rise the divisiveness and boundless potential that ‘Ye continually strives for in his art. He claims, “when he was running, it was like, I felt something. The fact that he won, it proved something, it proved that anything is possible in America”. Okay, sure.

His land development goals

The entire latter third of the interview takes place on a 300-acre piece of land in Calabasas recently purchased by Kanye, which he calls “the next frontier for me to develop.” The land is beautiful, sure, but West even goes as far as to state that he is going to be to land development “what Howard Hughes was to aircraft,” or “Henry Ford to cars.” West states his inspiration for the development project as stemming from a fatigue with the “McMansions” that dot the California landscape, a landscape where he believes “everybody house whack”. His solution? “We gon’ develop cities,” he proudly states, right before the interview cuts out.

 

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