Kanye West talks politics, mental health, and JAY-Z in new 105-minute interview

"Racism isn't the deal breaker for me. If that was the case, I wouldn't live in America."

Kanye West
Kanye West

Kanye West has released a new 105-minute video interview moderated by Charlamagne Tha God. Every topic is covered, from Kanye’s recent comments about Donald Trump, to his relationship with JAY-Z, to his 2016 mental breakdown and subsequent hospitalization. Kanye also speaks briefly about his new forthcoming albums: “I want to create music that is therapeutic,” he explained, citing The Life of Pablo track “Real Friends” as one such example. Watch the full interview below.

Here are some of the things we learned:

1. Kanye acknowledges that his 2016 mental breakdown — or, as he calls it, a “mental breakthrough,” was the result of him being overworked. He says that he felt like he was in a “race against time” and a “race against popularity” against other titans in the music and fashion industries. He specifically notes the competition of musicians like Drake and Kendrick Lamar, as well as the fact that The Life of Pablo wasn’t receiving radio play. “Ever since the Taylor Swift moment, it’s never been the same… the connection to the radio,” he remarks. He acknowledges that he’s currently medicated, but does not see a therapist. “The world is my therapist,” he proclaims. He also says he wants to change “the stigma of crazy” and “the stigma of mental health.”

2. Kanye says he and JAY-Z are texting, but haven’t seen each other face to face in some time. Kanye traces their beef back to two particular episodes: 1.) JAY-Z and Beyoncé not attending his and Kim Kardashian’s wedding in 2014. Kanye does acknowledges that, at the time, the couple was dealing with the fallout from JAY-Z’s infidelity, but adds, “if you’re family, that’s not an excuse.” 2.) Kanye doesn’t appreciate JAY-Z insinuating that he gave him a $20 million advance for his Life of Pablo tour (JAY-Z said as much on the 4:44 track “Kill JAY-Z”, rapping, “You gave him 20 million without blinkin’/ He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?”) In reality, Kanye says, Live Nation fronted the money and JAY-Z acted as a co-signer. He doesn’t like the insinuation that he is indebted to JAY-Z, which he believes JAY-Z has played up for his own personal benefit. That said, Kanye says he is open to meeting with JAY-Z in the future.

3. “Racism isn’t the deal breaker for me,” Kanye says. “If that was the case, I wouldn’t live in America.” He mentions the proposal to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, remarking, “Why do you have to keep reminding us about slavery?” Later, he says, “Certain icons are too far in the past and not relatable, that’s what makes it safe.”

4. Kanye is still hurt over President Obama calling him a jackass in 2012. He says Obama had come to him prior to running for president to ask him and his mother for support. At the time, Kanye says Obama told him that he was his “favorite artist.” He doesn’t understand why a person would publicly criticize their favorite artist instead of communicating with them directly. Kanye was also jealous that Kendrick and JAY-Z were invited to the White House while he was not. At another point, he says, “I also have a problem with Obama being from Chicago and Chicago is still the murder capital of the world,” though he acknowledges that there was only so much Obama could do as president

5. “Artists are businesses… They don’t need managers, they need CEOs,” Kanye says in explaining in his decision to part ways with his management. He argues that superstar musicians should be treated like IPOs — he himself says his brand is valued at over $1 billion — and thus should be set up like an actual company, employing individuals with business acumen. He also reveals that he left Nike because they didn’t offer him a royalty deal for his shoes.

6. Kanye doesn’t actually like Trump, he just likes the idea of Trump. “The fact that he won proves anything is possible. It’s a time for the unconventional. I’m not a traditional thinking. I’m a nonconformist. I’m also a producer, I like to chop things up. What’s the Ye version? The Trump campaign with Bernie Sanders principles.”

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