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I recently received my copy of Kanye West’s Glow In The Dark tour book. As well as having an incredible collection of photo’s of the tour there is a massively insightful interview with Kanye by director Spike Jonze.
I don’t think I have ever read an interview which touches on such a wide range of subjects or something so insightful. After reading you get a real feel and understanding of Kanye and the way he thinks and behaves. I have typed it up, so hit the jump to read.
KANYE WEST : [Singing.] It’s amazing, amazing. I love going through this book, because it brings back so many memories
SPIKE JONZE : You’ve done tours before; why did you want to capture this one in a book?
We were videoing it and getting it photographed because all types of amazing, cool stuff happens to me every day, and I was, like, “I’m doing an interview with Spike today ; what did you do?” It was good to document it. Then it just so happened to be so cultural and visually amazing. I’ll [also] explain once we go from the European tour, and the different stuff that inspired me to completely throw everything out the window and come up with the U.S. tour, the one that you saw. And you have a bit of a back-story because you were helping to conceptualise some of the stuff for the tour.
Personally, what does this tour mean? And what’s it going to feel like for you to have it in a book?
It’s just an emotional time, I think, for everybody in the world, dealing with change. It was all about change and graduation: my first year into my thirties, the losses I was dealing with – My mother, my relationship. And making a conscious effort to not allow peoples perceptions of what I was or what I was supposed to do take my freedom away from me because that’s what it is: people try to box you in and take your freedom away. I refused to let that happen. I made a conscious effort to say, I’m going to be a creative individual; I’ll just deal with the backlash – people who are scared to change and grow, which is what life is about. I think documenting this tour was more interesting than me getting a record deal, the Grammys, and the obvious things that people would’ve made a movie about. Like, you’re stepping into doing, not a by fluke thing, not a one-off, first-album thing, not a first-time-at-the-Grammys thing, but a true artist at war with his self and the world and emotions-the fight to be creative, to keep from thinking about how much fucked-up shit was happening to me. I had to be creative to keep my mind off of it.
That’s what you used your work for that year?
I didn’t realise; I just did it. I worked constantly instead of thinking about what I was actually going through. In hindsight, I’m like, “wow, this meant this, this meant that”
What was the expectation for you before you did this tour?
Specifically, the expectation for the tour was way lower than what I presented. I love to present art that’s different, that might be polarizing, that might jar you, but then surpasses your expectations. Like when we watched this [where the wild things are clip] right now, and I said, “oh wow, this is completely different than I thought: this way surpasses my expectation of the amount of dialogue that the Wild Things has.’ I thought they were just going to be kind of scary, grunting, grr, but it’s like a Woody Allen movie.
You were working on your second record when I first met you, and people were looking at you like you were competing with 50 Cent or Jay-z. You said, “I don’t look at myself as competing with them. I’m not competing with rap: I’m competing with Madonna, and I’m competing with Michael Jackson, and I’m competing with Prince-that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Until I beat them; then I’ll find someone else to compete with. You’ve got to be greatful for artists like Lil Wayne-people who can push you and inspire you and give you something to be in the morning-because otherwise its like playing basketball by yourself. Beyonce was hooping by herself until Rihanna came in and got on the other side of the court and started hitting some shots. Then Beyonce’s like, “oh, man, I’m going to have to come with it: I’m going to drop “Single ladies” and just drop the best video ever of all time.”
So Graduation and the tour, as a moment in your life-what do you think you transitioned into through the course of that year and a half?
Well, it’s weird-to segue off of what you were saying about the competition with me and 50-I’m definitely David and everyone else is Goliath. Even if I’m the biggest, I’m always going to raise someone else up as Goliath, put someone else on the court. I’ll play centers and stuff, I’ll play point guards, I’ll play whoever I have to play, but I like the concept of competition. I think that’s 50; he kind of built off competition, but his method of attack was more brutal than psychological. My thing is more like fighting water with fire: just figuring how to beat the big boss at the end, not by shooting him right in the chest but maybe in some way running around the side of his leg, hitting him on the shin-that’s how you beat that game.
Might have to work harder, be more clever.
You’ve got to rely on what your end goal is. Society and culture have presented options, then you figure out what options apply to you and which don’t. For me, the option of Christianity doesn’t apply to me, even though that’s what I was taught. So now it’s a major thing that’s coming out, like “dude, he doesn’t believe in Jesus.” It’s crazy. Someone could be a straight killer and talk about murdering people and do all these bad things, and they’ll say, “oh, God, I’m sorry,” and everybody’s, like, “That’s cool.” Someone could put out mad positive energy, beautiful art-everything- and just help so many people, then say, “yo, you know, I don’t believe in Jesus, though” then, its like, “whoa, he’s a bad person.”
How did that relate to the battle..from David and Goliath? I might’ve just spaced out for a second, what the connection was.
Okay, it’s a battle. I also, like, rant into other information. The connection is the battle within yourself-the battle of your image. I’m at battle with the media, people’s perception of me, versus me. So many people have this perception of me. I look like a really big piece of shit to them, for whatever reason, then they get up close and they’re, like, “wow, this is not a piece of shit; this has good in it. This is really good.”
I think you’re easy to quote, and those quotes are easy to take out of context. You just say whatever you’re thinking, which I love. Some things you say sound egomaniacal when you take them out of context, and especially out of the context of the big picture of who you are. I liked when you said, “I’m a fan of anything that’s great. If the new ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’s’ record comes out and I love it, i’m a fan of theirs. If Murakami has something new that I love, I’m a fan of it. And if I make something that I love, then I’m going to be a fan of it. I’m not going to be falsely humble.” I don’t know what the solution is, because its what makes an article, it’s the thing they report on. They say the most sensationalistic thing you said, without any of the nuance-
And giving any context to it.
You were saying at one point that was part of why you wanted to start the blog-
It’s like when you’re picking out new clothes and stuff that you might not be used to, that looks crazy. Sometimes it takes a stylist to put it into context. Basically, my quotes are like a bunch of crazy clothes laid out there in the middle of the street.
Uh huh [laughs]
My biggest thing is clarity. I wish people could understand where I’m coming from. So many people are scared, they’d rather just fit into what society says. You know its going to be taken out of context if you say something good or bad about yourself, so just never say anything good about yourself. Never say that you believe in you. I refuse to fit into what society thinks I should be doing because at the end of the day, it’s my life.
Bringing us back to Graduation and this tour, what was the expectation you were battling against?
I don’t know. Last year was one of the few times it seemed like people were on my side, because they didn’t like 50. They wanted to pick somebody, like “oh, he’s the lesser of two evils” or something. There was a brief moment when people actually felt for me-two weeks that I got a pass-the its, like, “yo, back to ‘Fuck you, Kanye.’” Now everything I say, they feel like it’s because I’ve grown crazy because of the situations I’ve been through-my mom passing or the relationship that I got out of. It’s not that I’ve gone crazy; I just don’t feel like I have anything to lose, so I might as well express exactly what I feel. It’s like the everyday version of someone in their final argument in a relationship.
With anyone. When you talk to me, I’m going to be as open as your girlfriend is in that last argument. It’s just super-real, this is how I actually really feel. Every day, though. And that’s really awkward for people.
Have you ever been that way from day one, or do you think you’re growing into that even more?
I’m growing to accept the ups and downs of it and not be so frustrated by the backlash. I’m going to say, this is how I feel. I’d rather piss a bunch of people off and be happy with myself than have a whole bunch of people happy and be pissed at myself.
For not being true to yourself
For not being true. That’s the most important thing to me, to be true to me.
Why does that piss people off, do you think? Because, actually. I haven’t heard a lot Kanye Shit-talking, lately.
Like maybe people are understanding me a bit more or something?
When I left that concert, people were so happy, in the best mood. They got everything they wanted and more. There was a real positive-
Yeah, it’s like when kobe wins a championship, they super happy, happy to be in L.A, and, ”we love Kobe so much.” Certain types of individuals say too much of anything is bad. It may be bad for you , like, have you worked too much on your movie?
Any true artist is going to do it too much. That what I do; I am an expert at doing too much, overdoing it, OCD, being in the studio too long. Who’s to say what good and bad? “Oh, but too much religion is not good, or too much church is not good, or too much working out is not good.” Society has its things they feel are good and bad, if you buy too many gym shoes, that a good thing, but if you buy, like, too much porn, that’s a bad thing. So what I keep stressing is, I’m not going to let someone else dictate the amount of what I should have. I know what feels right in my spirit. I know when I get a stomachache because I ate too much ice cream. I know when I look fat in the mirror, because I’ve just been eating a bunch of fried chicken, and I make the decision of whether or not I want to eat less.
So you feel like you have your own radar when you feel like a healthy, positive person, and you like yourself?
That’s where my radar is right now, more than ever. I used to be insecure, I used to be scared. I’m just not scared. I’m not scared to die. I’m not scared to talk. I’m not scared to communicate. I’m not scared to deliver my art in the purest form I want to deliver it. When we did “flashing lights,” a bunch of people said, “man, you need to show a club scene.” That was my favourite video to date. It expressed exactly what I wanted to express, the exact type of visuals that meant something to me. I feel like I have the best taste. [Laughs.] Other people have really good taste, and I’ll bow in their presence and listen to them and say, “maybe I haven’t focused as much on Telecine, so I’m going to let you do the knobs and stuff.” I know it’s basically what I want to see at the end of the day. I’m not trying to build a car; I’m not an expert at that. But if you talk to me about something that I’m an expert at, I’m going to be super confident about it. If I have a doctor working on me, I want the most confident doctor possible. I don’t want somebody up there. [stuttering] “I-I-I-I- don’t know what I’m doing.’ Our lives are movies, and I’m providing the soundtrack. I would only hope that you would want somebody confident to provide that for you. When you look back, twenty years from now, you listened to a song that was done by an expert, versus like some accidental bullshit where you’re, like “man, I can’t believe I was listening to that.” Be happy that you have that expert building the score to your life.
I like that you’ve reached a place where you’re fearless.
I wouldn’t say completely fearless, because that’s delusional. Confidence, courage, isn’t not having fear, but being able to overcome that. More than anything, I’m courageous. I’m courageous to say the things I’m saying, knowing the type of backlash I can get from it. You have to be courageous just to be yourself. Whenever you see somebody completely be who he or she is, you have to love that. I love when people are super-religious, because that’s who they are. I, every day, remove another layer of snobbery.
You have? Because you used to have more snobbery for people who were-
I used to just not like people who weren’t into what I was into, which is the way the average person is. If you’re doing something negative, now, I can’t fully accept that. I could say, “Dude, you’re wack. I’m not into it. You’re about doing negative stuff, putting out negative energy. Fuck you, I don’t like that.” But if you’re doing something that makes you feel good, that I might not be into, then hey-
If its not hurting any body else, yeah.
That’s cool for me. If it’s not cool with you, you like it, I love it.
What about failure? Before you make a record that’s popular, you don’t have anything to lose. Now what you’ve made three or four records that are huge, do you worry about following your instincts so far that they take you away from popular success?
Whenever I get worried about something, I just remind myself that I have to look at it and know if I like it or not. The biggest thing is to be off. Once you’re off with culture and society, once you’re in a place where it’s like you don’t understand why people like stuff… like, I understand why people like Ed Hardy. If I can be in tune with what most people like, that’s the great talent. At the end of the day, everything about me is taste level and collageing. I like collage-rapping, rhyming, with information that my father’s given me about culture and society-then I make songs like “all falls Down” then collage the information I’ve got about producing, that I’ve learned from this one, and put it all together. You’re sitting there, you’re looking at ten pictures, you take two pictures from here, then you look at [ another] ten pictures and take two pictures from there, and those two pictures that you take is your taste level. So good taste is what it is. I’m a little snobby towards schmuckery, you know.
Wait, What’s Schmuckery?
Like when people are being dicks to other people, or work that is shitty?
Yeah, people who just put out shitty work. I’d be more apt to be in business with a character like you than-I’m not going to name somebody, but-other types of people in Hollywood who might have this hit movie after hit movie. That’s not my gang. I don’t do it for the cheque. I’m super happy at the end of the day. I’m comfortable with where I’m at. I’m not as rich as anyone who’s mentioned in the same breath as me in entertainment. I think I’ve passed up on some cheques, just for the ability to be me.
Like what kind of cheques? Endorsement deals, or-?
Maybe its certain endorsements, maybe its certain licenses, maybe its certain, “shut the fuck up, don’t say how you feel, that way you wont lose this deal, right?” I wont name a particular brand or anybody, because I’d still like to do business with them. I’m not turning the cheque down, but just to say-
I’m from the outside, I’m trying to figure out why you wouldn’t be as rich, because it seems like your records are huge, your tours are huge_
I’m not saying things to be polarizing, in saying things because I really feel like they are the absolute right. My biggest thing is to bring the same people who did the Daft Punk tour to a pop tour- for people to see dope shit. That’s one of my main goals. I want really great, maybe more obscure at the time, artists to be seen on a pop level, because I would say that one of my religions is pop. I subscribe to pop culture. So, in that way, I believe in the Bible. I’ll quote the Bible all day long because It’s the most popular thing to quote. It’s all about communication and people understanding you. Disney- what was so great about that is, it was pop and it was also better than everything else. That’s what I want , the type of music I want to make. Beyonce- It’s good that she’s coming up with stuff that’s blatantly better than independent artists. She’s Beyonce. I think that’s kind of what the recession is about, too; there’s no in-between at all. If you’re really good, people will still be, like; “okay, I’m in the store, I can only buy one CD, and this is what I’m going to buy,”
You were talking about collaging. What would you say are the biggest influences in your work, in your career, up to date, that made you who you are?
My biggest influences were my parents now, after the face. When you’re in high school, you’d love to say that your parents aren’t the ones influencing you, it’s the people around you. But my parents and television and media-my face is definitely stuck to that TV. I wanted to get into the TV. Like poltergeist. And I managed to do it. Now I’m in the little box. Television and media are my biggest influences; that’s also one of the reasons I get so upset when the media tries to influence people to not like me, try to “Mel Gibson” me or something. It would be a shame if someone didn’t watch, Apocalypto because of how they felt about Mel Gibson. It’s just , arguably, one of the top ten movies of all time. His work is so amazing.
I haven’t seen that movie yet.
Oh, My God. It will influence you, because it’s all action, back-to-back. It’s the most amazing action movie ever made. But it’s not in English. It has subtitles-an action movie with all subtitles. You think subtitles, you think drama or something. What’s a shame is that there are people who, because of their beliefs, might not listen to my music, might not come to a concert. But, at the end of the day, there’s only 20,000 seats in the arena, and we sold’em all out, so-what can you do? [Laughter.]
So who were you when you started this tour, and who were you when you ended it?
Man, lets talk about this tour life. I’m way closer to the person I was at age five than I was five years ago-just re-finding yourself, finding your child, having the opportunity to be a child, that’s the greatest thing, because people force you to be adult. We’re two of the few people on earth who have the full right to be kids. My dancing is so bad that I do onstage, I refuse to look at the playback on it, because it would change the way I dance the next day.
Inhibit yourself or something. That’s what’s so great about Karen [ of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's]-she is tapped into that kid feeling. She’s totally guileless and free, and a total kid onstage. It’s hard to keep that when you hear a lot of people judging you or talking about you. How do you tap in?
How do you block out judgement? That’s why I feel so empowered. It might upset me a bit when I’m judged., but I can use it as fuel to get better, to prove people wrong and still focus on what it is I want to do. I’m going to do it my way, and you’re going to like it, even when you didn’t like it at first.
How do you think this tour helped you get back to being a five-year-old?
Well, just being on that stage, hopping up and down, dancing like crazy. An interesting thing about the design of this is, I was definitely in a position where we had already sold tickets-this U.S. tour’s finally going to be here, it’s the biggest album in the country, I had to go on tour, but its definitely a time where I shouldn’t have been. I should’ve taken a vacation; I should’ve just did what I wanted to do. I had a car accident-before the major one that everyone knows about. My truck flipped over. It was such a life-altering thing that you just go back into that childhood state. They have movies when something happens, you’re about to die, your life flashes before your eyes. So, after my life flashing before my eyes-that car accident-I went to my apartment and set up a racecar track right in the middle of the living room. I sat there for hours and hours and just raced cars. When you’re at work, don’t you ever feel like, “Damn, I wish I was just racing cars-back when it was Christmas, at age seven…”
You don’t have to be anywhere. Nobody’s expecting you.
When I was a child, and watched sci-fi films. I used to take my mom’s bed sheets she had this one quilt that was blue on one side and white on the other, and I would take it and flip it to the white side and put pillows under it to recreate the planets in the movies. I would set all my characters up on it and be one of the characters. If you really think about it, that’s exactly what my stage was. When things are truly inspired and meant to be, and they just flow through you in some way, the true inspiration for that was that childhood that came through me, where I was, like, “ I have to tour, and I don’t want to!” But if I’m going to do it, then I’m going to dress up like a spaceman. When I was in Kindergarten, they did these tests and they had me draw, and I was, like “Can I draw a football player?” And they were like, “No, Just draw a regular guy.” I was , like, “Okay, I’m going to draw a regular guy, but I’m going to put a football player outfit on him.” This was my response as a kindergartner. I’m mature now, but I’m still going to flip that bed sheet over and try and make a snow planet.
I love it. That’s awesome. So lets start at the beginning, who took the photos?
Nabil Elderkin. And he’s going to be a big famous photographer after this comes out.
So it was basically two tours. The first one, where it was a little less focussed, and the second, where you just threw it all out and started over.
Yeah. But the first tour was good; it had its thing, too.
What was it? I didn’t see that one.
There were people who said they liked that tour better, even. I originally sat down with Jamie King, because I was idolizing Madonna, and he’s a choreographer who’s worked with Madonna.
Is he a tour or set designer?
He’s just an overall visual creator-director. But it would be so expensive, because you had to pay him, and he’d go hire other creative people, then hire the stage person, then hire the video guys- the price would just go way up. I ended up meeting with his guy Simon Henwood, who’s Roisin Murphy’s boyfriend-I saw this Roisin Murphy video that I thought was genius, and I wanted to sit and talk to him about doing a video.
Who’s Roisin Murphy?
Roisin Murphy is, I guess her music could be considered pop, but she’s edgy, she’s really fashionable. She was wearing Margiela shoulder pads, she’s like the poster child for that. She changes outfits like ten times onstage. Her band and visuals are extremely great. I think she’s a genius, and her boyfriend is a genius, too. He ended up doing the “love lockdown” video, then, a year and a half afterwards, we started getting cool. I sat with him to talk about videos. Whenever I’m sitting with a creative person, I’ll start bouncing all types of ideas off of them, because you can create in any space. How do we apply this genius to this, to this, to this? So we end up starting to think of two ideas. I remember also sitting with Dave LaChapelle, because I really loved the Elton John thing he had done.
Right, I remember you showed me some clips on You Tube of this half of the tour. So what do you call the first half?
It was called Glow in the Dark.
Glow in the Drake Europe, then Glow in the Dark U.S.? Is that how you differentiate between the two sections?
No, because then I had to skip back and forth. By the time we got to Asia, we had to go back to a hybrid of the first set, then we’d do different one-offs, and it would be a hybrid of the original set.
Because you couldn’t travel the whole thing through Asia?
Yeah, I couldn’t have the stage.
I know from friends who go on tour that, for the two hours of life onstage, the other twenty-two hours are much less glamorous.
The backstage, car service, and airport-like a circus act. You choose the people you want to tour with, but then you have to be around them for fifty days!
I’ve heard it mentioned that it’s like Groundhog Day; the hotels all look the same, the airport looks the same, the car looks the same, the backstage looks the same. You’re not even really travelling, because you don’t get to—
Yeah, thank god for the Internet now, because people used to play video games a lot before the Internet.
Before we go into this, tell the story of Glow in the Dark, Part II, with J.A.N.E.-briefly from the top.
So the story is, [at the beginning of the concert] you just hear some rumbling, and I explain to the audience-I did it live; I could have pre-recorded it, but I did it live-that ‘I’ve been on this mission to bring creativity back to the earth…” because the wells are dried up and this is our last mission before we head home. We’re about to head home, then me and J.A.N.E, hit a meteor shower and, as the meteor shower starts, these big talko drum ends up going into this “stronger” intro. We end up crash-landing on this planet. The first time you see me, I’m laying on my back, which I think is great because I always play off people’s perception of me. To have me laid out on my back as the antihero was a way cooler intro than me coming out like, “yeah, I’m Kanye. Look at me. I got an explosion behind me.” I wake up and my spaceship starts talking to me, and the first thing you hear is her say, “wake up, Mr West,” When we do the meteor shower, she’s, like, “we are approaching a meteor shower. Caution. We’ve been hit, Emergency.” You know, that type of shit. And it’s like [makes noises] the talko drums. So I wake up then do “Good Morning.” Then I talk to the spaceship, and I’m, like, “How long will it take to get fixed?” she says, “unknown.’’ I’m, like, “Ahhh!” Then it goes into “I Wonder,” because what are we going to do? “I wonder, if you know, what it means…[sings].” I do that and that’s the first time you kind of see the screen just go full on and stuff.
So redoing the set-throwing the whole set out-I’m sure that must have cost a lot of money. Were you able to still make money doing the tour?
Its cost millions of dollars, or something like that, but yeah, I still made some money at the end of the day-maybe half of what I would’ve made. I’m more concerned about the fans-tha money that I lost, I’m going to make up for it on my next tour. I feel like everybody’s going to be like, “ we have to see what this dude is going to come up with now. We trust this”-like how you start to trust the album. There are no acts from this genre of music that you trust their touring- that you’re like, “oh, my God, this is going to be the most amazing tour.” Even if you didn’t like anything off 8o8’s & Heartbreak, you’d still go just to see how I do “Stronger” this time.
Are you going to tour 8o8’s & Heartbreak?
I was thinking about just touring 8o8s & Heartbreak, because I’m a fucking weirdo who’s doing a theatre tour. So if they go, “Yo, do ‘Gold Digger.’” I’m, like, “Fuck you.” [ Laughter ]
Back to this tour-I think it just had great energy. That’s what’s so great about something live.
[Looking at photo’s of book.] But also think a photo captures the emotion sometimes better than a DVD, depending on how it was shot. Look at how massive the screen looks behind me. To be so diligent and sticking to the plan with the screens. The screens never show me really big.
The screen was the set.
I don’t think there’s ever been anyone-no rock star-who didn’t decide, at some point, to put themselves up on the screen really big. It’s like, [doing a rock star impression] “I need to see myself.” There were so many things that-for me to be such a so-called arrogant dude-that I just didn’t do. Like I never put myself on the album cover. My shit is just more about trying to create the best art possible.
I remember afterwards thinking how intense it was that you were going full on for two hours, and thinking you must be dead every night. What was it like giving it up for two hours by yourself on a stage that big?
It was a workout, and my breathing, my voice, and the amount of energy I’m putting out-it was very emotional because of the things I was going through when I would do certain songs. Especially towards the end-by the time the newness of all the ideas was wearing off and it was time to think about new ideas-it became more routine. At that point, I was forced to think about real life again, and about the safeness of where I was and where I am-What I’m trying to get over. I went from not having talked to my mom for three months to not having talked to her for a year, and still being on that same stage.
What were some of the hardest shows?
The absolute hardest show for me was Brazil. You’d think that would be a dream come true for me, to be in Brazil. But I was like having arguments with someone, and it just made me feel like I was really alone on that stage. When I was performing “The Good Life “ in Brazil. I would actually be crying because of the irony of that song, like “welcome to this good life.” Plus, things were going wrong, and we had a different lighting guy for that show and-its like when everything goes right, something you can zone out and just be in the euphoria; everything is all good; you can get rocked to sleep. But then if you have a really bad day, you start looking up at everything and being, like, “what the fuck is wrong with your shoes?” and “ Don’t you owe me some money?” and just start thinking about everything that’s wrong.
Back to this year and the tour-it seemed like it also happened over the course of the election-of Obama starting to be talked about for president until he’s the Democratic candidate- and now he’s president. Do you feel like, culturally, there’s something going on that you’re a part of-talking about race in America. Do you feel a difference?
It’s a change of the guards, and my goal, to be like the first black stadium guy, to make this music, like “stronger”-a song that blatantly rips across every station, that’s not just an urban thing, it’s a world thing-and at the same time for Barack to be the first in his position doing that? Yeah, it’s interesting. What’s also interesting is Barack listens to my music. He knows a couple songs; he’s never been to a concert. I like Barack. I’ve heard a couple of his speeches; I mean, I finally went to the DNC. But it’s a thing where it’s, like, I really appreciate what he’s doing, what he’s about to do. And I think he also appreciates that I’m doing what I do-that my thing is not, like, “oh, now that he’s about to be a politician, I’m, all of a sudden, so into politics.” Me saying that, is almost equal to me being, like “ I don’t believe in Jesus.” It’s, like, “Dude, you’re not going to show up at every single thing that Barack is doing?” Its, like, “No because I have to go to the studio, and , like, work on the soundtrack for our lives.” I have to do my job. Even right now, when they’re talking about the inauguration, like, “I know you’re going to be at the inauguration, Kanye West,” I’m, like, “I really want to be at the Prada show.” In Italy. I think I’m going to be there. I’m very happy [Laughter]
Are you performing at the inauguration or before the inauguration?
I might be performing at the inauguration. But I really want to be at the Prada show.
Because politics aren’t that important to you?
I don’t care about politics. I care about clothes, I care about high hats and snares. And its good that that’s what I care about, because I do a good job at what I care about. I don’t feel any type of guilt in any way, to not care about what I don’t care about. I don’t feel guilty that there are a lot of athletes I wouldn’t recognise at a party. Back when I used to want to play basketball, I had a hoop dream; I knew every basketball player in the league. I’m not that into it anymore. I don’t give a fuck. So many people are, like, “Man, you need to know about this,” you know? Don’t you have friends who are basically like walking versions of Google?
I am so down to not know about everything. I don’t read. Whatsoever.
You read the internet, right? It seems like from your blog you’re tapped into a lot of shit going on.
Just shit that I’m into.
Its this very specific line that surrounds what you’re interested in, and if it falls outside of that-
Then I’m not interested in it.
It’s off your radar.
It’s off my radar. And it’s on someone else’s radar, and that’s good for them. I’m completely fine to not know what they’re doing in the back at Jamba Juice. I’m cool. I sip the juice, and that’s how I feel about politics. I feel like it’s in the back of Jamba Juice, and everybody feels like they need to be so involved. I’m just cool like, “Just make the juice, dude. Cool.”
Maybe, at some point in your life, you will care what happens in the back of Jamba Juice or with politics.
Then I will. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll care about just raising my kids. Maybe that will be my focus. Politics is a hobby.
Well, it’s a hobby, but it’s also something that truly affects our lives. It’s not like its just happening over here. What’s happening over here affects our lives, affects the world, affects policy that profoundly affects the lives of everyone in the world. It’s not what’s happening behind Jamba Juice. I’m not saying you have to care, but I’m saying it does affect your life-
Yeah, it’s like when the Bulls won, that really affected Chicago in a positive way. The Bulls won in Chicago that affected us. There are times when they’ve lost, when people rioted, and that affected us. That’s how I feel. A lot of people feel like, because I’m this big figure, it’s this responsibility I have to take. All I keep stressing to people is, I’m not going to take any more responsibility because I over-take responsibilities in my craft. I’m completely fine with sounding like a dumbass or being considered irresponsible in everything, because that beat turned out really good, and this is what I do. I’m like the blue collar of whatever it is I’m into. You know what I’m saying? When you think about blue-collar workers, that’s like their trade, and they’re just really, really good at that. If they can’t play basketball, you’re not mad at them. If they’re not really into politics, you’re not mad at them. If your sink was clogged, and the plumber came over and fixed it, would you say, “Hey, man, how do you feel about politics? Who you voting on?” and he gave the wrong answer or said, “I don’t care” or just shrugged his shoulders, would your sink be any less unclogged?
I totally agree that it’s not a celebrity responsibility—
It’s like Katrina, when all the celebrities were going down. I went down to Katrina afterwards and bought houses and stuff, but we did absolutely no press on it. I mean, to each his own. Maybe that was their thing, to show how much they cared, but—
It is a totally twisted culture; it does bring attention to a subject that needs to be talked about, but it’s definitely a totally fucked-up society that it has to be done that way.
And, yeah, this actor—I say, “what the fuck makes that person more special?” What I want people to really realise about the Katrina thing is, I am purely a little Kid. I walked in, I’m looking at that shit, and this is what a four-year-old would say. It doesn’t make the four-year-old the next day not want to just go and play basketball, or “Now I want to just watch politics every day.” And it’s like, “Whoa! No, you’re supposed to be at every single convention from now on, because you said this one thing.” It’s almost like some Forrest Gump stuff for me.
You know what’s crazy? When I talked to you about this, I hadn’t actually seen the clip. Just in the last six months, I saw it on You Tube. I watched it, and the thing that hit me the most is how you look almost like you’re about to cry. You look so nervous and like you don’t know what you’re saying. You’re kind of just saying this stuff off the top of your head, and you’re rambling, and in this world where everybody goes off cue cards, and so polished and political, and says just the right thing that wont be taken out of context, and this whole thing was just so raw, and I loved it. I loved how heartfelt it was. You were really just speaking from your heart, and that’s one of the things I admire about you.
I’m like a will Ferrell character in real life. It’s like the real version of Step Brothers or something, or Ricky Bobby [Talladega Nights]
I didn’t see that movie. Are they stunted?
It seems like they’re complete idiots, but really they just speak exactly what they feel. There’s little baby Tourette’s going on.
That’s what part I tried to capture in the movie [ Where the Wile Things Are]—that kids are not politically correct. They say, “I’m going to kill you,” “Die!” “ Look at that fat guy over there.” They don’t think anything; they’ll just say it because they haven’t been taught when you’re supposed to do this and society says you’re supposed to do that. I could see the comparison. How do you maintain that? How do you stay spontaneous?
How do you keep your childhood and stuff? I don’t know. Every day, it’s an emotional and mental workout. It’s similar to Pamela Anderson or somebody, keeping their body. Because their body—at a young age, they’re just like young and eighteen, just the shit. Then the older you get, the more things wear on what made you purely the shit and you have to work out—work at just being you. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I had a couple times where I got our of shape—a little politically incorrect. I will a hundred thousand percent be at the Prada show while the inauguration is going on. I’m going to be like, “Man, those are some really nice shoes.” They’ve inspired me in some way. There’s inspiration I get from Barack, just hearing him speak, seeing the way he can compel people. I enjoy watching Barack. He’s an amazing character.
Amazing, powerful speaker, who just connects.
That’s what I love the most—his communication skills. His communication skills are obviously better than mine, because if he’s saying what he feels—
So you’re going to be, like, “I’m competing with Barack Obama now.” You already went for Madonna, now you’re going for Barack Obama.
I’d like my songs to communicate. There is a certain competition in politics and music and stuff. What resonates more, Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” song or Dr King’s “I have a dream” speech? Do you remember the entire speech, or do you remember an entire song? What’s embedded? What are the things that will flash before your eyes when you’re passing away? What things are you going to remember? I guess thats my goal, to be a part of that memory, like, when you look back years from now, “I remember this right here.”