Since the release of the polarising Yeezus earlier this year, it seems everyone’s had plenty to say about Kanye West (especially Lou Reed and Trent Reznor) except the man who knows most about the subject: Kanye West.
All that changed this week, as the global star (prefixing that with rap just seems redundant now) gave an in-depth, hour-long interview with BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe in which West sprawled into a tonne of topics from music to fashion to celebrity with few prompts needed from Lowe himself, as NME points out, as well as declaring that he is the world’s biggest rock star.
The intimate interview was also filmed and is now being released in four segments by the British broadcaster in which West went H.A.M. on the language and the attitude making it very clear that the brash, artsy, and ambitious sound of his latest album comes from a man who is – surprise, surprise – brash, artsy, and ambitious.
The interview begins lucidly enough, with a calm West warmly receiving compliments about his work and offhandedly remarking “live like you could die tomorrow,” but by the end he gets to a characteristically fiery place while touching on a number of more water-cooler tidbits (calling producer Rick Rubin a “reducer”, chatting to Frank Ocean, and his wife, Kim Kardashian).
For your convenience, here’s the most quotable moments worth learning about from the interview.
Yeezus Is About Needing To “Fuck Shit Up”
“This is what frustration fucking sounds like… For me as Kanye West, I got to fuck shit up… I’m going to take music and try to make it three dimensional… ”
…It’s Also The Star Wars Of Modern Music
“…like in Star Wars, and the hologram’ll pop up out of R2-D2. I’ma try to make something that jumps up, and affects you, in a good or bad way… I’m not here to make easy listening, easily programmable music.”
He’s Already Made The Perfect Album
“I’d showed people I know how to make perfect. [2010 album My Beautiful Twisted] Dark Fantasy could be considered perfect, I know how to make perfect. But that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to crack the pavement and make new grounds.”
Kanye Is The Biggest Rock Star In The World
“Rap is the new rock n roll. We the rock stars.” (“It’s been like that now for a minute,” Lowe interjects) “It’s been like that for a minute! …We the new rock stars and I’m the biggest of all of them!”
MJ Is Still A Major Inspiration
“I would not be Kanye West if it wasn’t for for Michael Jackson. I was with Quincy Jones the other day, and he said it wasn’t just Mike, it was all these guys breaking down barriers. Michael Jackson couldn’t get his video played. I mean, this is Michael Jackson; he’s not even black, he’s Michael Jackson. He’s so crazy, how can he even be classified as this black artist? …There would be no Kanye West if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson. That allowed him to be that.”
Jay Z Is Important Too
“Me as Kanye West, a young revolutionary coming out of Chicago [I] wouldn’t have made it without Jay Z as my big brother, watching my back.”
Literal Song Titles Are The Best Song Titles
“Why do you think Niggaz in Paris is called Niggaz in Paris? Cos Niggaz were in Paris.”
He Doesn’t Like ‘Gold Digger’ Or His Popular Stuff Much.
“Not having to speak the textures of the time. Cause you know [G.O.O.D Music compilation] Cruel Summer is definitely Kanye West… If you look at it 200 years from now it’s not gonna stand out in the way that 808s [& Heartbreak, from 2008] or Yeezus stands out. And can completely push or redefine or make people say ‘Hey, I completely hate that’ or ‘I completely love that.’”
His Fans Like Coffee
“If you’re a Kanye fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself. I’m just the espresso. I’m just the shot in the morning.”
He’s At The Truman Show Peak Of His Career
“[People] classify my motivational speeches as rants and things… well I’ve reached a point in my life where my Truman Show boat has hit the painting. And I’ve got to the point that Michael Jackson did in that breakdown. I have reached the glass ceiling.
West Is A Material Guy
“As a creative person, as a celebrity. When I say that, it means, I want to do product, I am a product person. Not just clothing, but water bottle design, architecture, everything, you know, that you could think about. And I’ve been at it for 10 years, and I look around, and I say, wait a second, there’s no one in this space that looks like me, and if they are, they’re quiet as fuck. So that means, wait a second, now we’re seriously, like, in a civil rights movement.”
You’re Looking At The World’s First Trillion Dollar CEO
“Eventually I want to be the anchor and the force behind a billion dollar company… I eventually want to be an anchor behind the first trillion dollar company.”
Not A Rapper, But A Designer
“You don’t realise, I am so frustrated. I’ve got so much I want to give. I’ve got ideas on colour palettes. I’ve got ideas on silhouettes. And I’ve got a million people telling me I can’t do it. ‘You’re not a real designer.’ Well, I’m not a real rapper.”
Kardashian Has Been A Good Thing For Kanye
“[Kim Kardashian] gave me everything. She gave me a support system. She’s in a powerful enough situation that she could love me without asking for money… something that’s hard to find.”
He’s Making Culture
“Where’s the culture at? I’m sitting in the middle of it, whether I’m at a dinner with Anna Wintour [Vogue Editor-In-Chief] or at a listening session with Pusha [T, rapper], or me and Virgil [Abolh, West’s adviser] are in Rome giving our designs to Fendi and over and over getting knocked down. We brought the leather jogging pants six years ago to Fendi and they said ‘No.’ How many motherfuckers you done seen with the leather jogging pants? So when I see [Saint Laurent creative director] Hedi Slimane and it’s all like, ‘This is my take on the world.’ Yeah, he’s got some nice $5,000 jeans in there… There’s some nice ones, some good shit here and there. But we culture.”
He’s Also Making History
“They will play this [BBC Radio 1] interview in five years. they will play this interview in 10 years and say: ‘He called that. He called that.'”
Watch the first part of the BBC interview with Kanye West below: