Yesterday the New York Times published an interview with the one and only Ye. In anticipation of his new album, the famed artist discussed his career, the progression of his music, his family and, well, just about everything.
West relates his start in the music industry to trying out for the basketball team in the eighth grade. He made all of the shots in tryouts, all of his layups, but didn't make the team. He tells a story about asking his coach why he didn't make the team and getting no good answer. It wasn't fair. During his time in the music industry, West learned that there are a lot of important people who are just like that eighth grade basketball coach. They say "no" for no good reason.
Though West didn't make the team back then, he stood up for himself. He asked the coach why he didn't make the team and fought for what he though he earned. He tried out for the team again the next year, made the high school team and proved just how good he was. Though this story may seem pointless, it just goes to show the mentality with which Ye approaches his career.
He claims to always be defending what is right, in every situation. He even defends his MTV Video Music Awards debacle with Taylor Swift with this ideology, insisting that he has no regrets. He says that that same instinct to defend Beyonce, "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." Taylor Swift may beg to differ.
But Ye is in a different place now than he was at the beginning of his career. The interview makes that clear. Instead of trying to break into the industry, make money and please the public like he did in the past, West has adopted new directive for Yeezus — minimize.
In an interview with The Guardian West said, "Back when I used to make albums and shit, a couple [of] years ago, we'd go away and work on the album for months or something ... We'd always have to hold the album to like August, or September, or till the perfect moment and shit … But honestly at this point when I listen to radio, that ain't where I want to be no more. Honestly at this point, I could give a fuck about selling a million records as long as I put out an album for the summer that y'all can rock to for all fuckin' summer."
Good God are we excited. Songs like Black Skinhead have given us an idea of the direction West is taking now, but rumors about last minute changes and new collaborations may indicate that there is much more in store for us on Yeezus.
West says that he doesn't think an album like this one would have been possible for him a few years ago. Listening to his old albums and his new tracks together, it is easy to hear that West's sound has changed dramatically. Every new album seems to introduce a new Ye.
However, one thing about Kanye West never changes — the artist has a high opinion of himself. A very high opinion of himself. In the interview, he even compares himself to Steve Jobs. But hey, I guess the guy has earned it.
Check out the full interview here, or skim through some of the highlights below. The 18th can't come fast enough.
New York Times: Has led you astray? Like the Taylor Swift interruption at the MTV Video Music Awards, things like that.
Kanye West: 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.
After saying that some choices on "Dark Fantasy" were made, in some ways, to please the public.
NYT:Does that make “Dark Fantasy” a dishonest album in some way?
KW: It’s always going to be 80 percent, at least, what I want to give, and 20 percent fulfilling a perception. If you walk into an old man’s house, they’re not giving nothing. They’re at 100 percent exactly what they want to do. I would hear stories about Steve Jobs and feel like he was at 100 percent exactly what he wanted to do, but I’m sure even a Steve Jobs has compromised. Even a Rick Owens has compromised. You know, even a Kanye West has compromised. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’re being compromised till after the fact, and that’s what you regret.
NYT: I wonder if you see things in a more race-aware way now, later in your career, than you did then. The intensity of the feelings on “Watch the Throne” is much sharper.
KW: No, it’s just being able to articulate yourself better. “All Falls Down” is the same [stuff]. I mean, I am my father’s son. I’m my mother’s child. That’s how I was raised. I am in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, great activist-type artists. But I’m also in the lineage of a Miles Davis — you know, that liked nice things also.
On Rick Rubin being called in to work on Yeezus.
NYT:His records did used to say “reduced by Rick Rubin.”
KW: For him, it’s really just inside of him. I’m still just a kid learning about minimalism, and he’s a master of it. It’s just really such a blessing, to be able to work with him. I want to say that after working with Rick, it humbled me to realize why I hadn’t — even though I produced “Watch the Throne”; even though I produced “Dark Fantasy” — why I hadn’t won Album of the Year yet. ... There’s no opera sounds on this new album, you know what I mean? It’s just like, super low-bit. I’m still, like, slightly a snob, but I completely removed my snob heaven songs; I just removed them altogether.
NYT: On this album, the way that it emphasizes bass and texture, you’re privileging the body, and that’s not snobby.
KW: Yeah, it’s like trap and drill and house. I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house. I think that even “Black Skinhead” could border on house, “On Sight” sounds like acid house, and then “I Am a God” obviously sounds, like, super house.
NYT: Respect my trendsetting.
KW: Yeah, respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins.
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.