Kanye West has been firing on all cylinders lately. From operas to Wyoming ranches to the return of Yeezy fashion, the mogul’s creative juices seem more pressed than ever. Whatever he’s up to, he’s clearly excited about it, as he’s opened himself up to a handful of wide-ranging interviews. The latest such discussion comes from GQ, which published an extensive Q&A touching on new music, Kobe Bryant, and who Kanye West plans to vote for in 2020.
Yes, though he avoids saying the name “Trump” in the interview, West remains a proud part of MAGA nation. To be fair, the interview took place before the President’s bungled coronavirus response, so maybe the ever-evolving artist has changed in the last few weeks. But at the time of the discussion, West said, “I’m definitely voting this time. And we know who I’m voting on.”
“And I’m not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over,” he continued. “Because guess what: I’m still here! Jesus Is King was No. 1!”
He tied his political leanings to the notion of race in America, consistently referring to the media’s portrayal of equality versus the reality. “One in three African Americans are enslaved, and we go more crazy if, you know, someone scores a touchdown,” West commented. “Modern-day mass incarceration is right in front of us, and if I even use the word slavery, I’m treated like I’m a white person talking about slavery.”
He even looked back at one of his own infamous statements on the subject:
“‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ is a victim statement. This white person didn’t do something for us. That is stemmed in victim mentality. Every day I have to look in the mirror like I’m Robert De Niro and tell myself, ‘You are not a slave.’ As outspoken as I am, and the position that I am in, I need to tell myself.”
Another reason why he’s sticking with Trump? “I buy real estate. It’s better now than when Obama was in office.”
Elsewhere in the interview, West reflected on the loss of Kobe Bryant, someone he considered one of his “best friends.” The drive between his home or office to where his the construction site of his California domes (buildings he said he always “fully planned to tear them down”) takes him right by the area where the Lakers star’s helicopter fatally crashed. “He was the basketball version of me, and I was the rap version of him, and that’s facts! We got the commercials that prove it,” West said. “We came up at the same time, together. And now it’s like, yeah, I might have had a reputation for screaming about things — but I’m not taking any mess for an answer now. We’re about to build a paradigm shift for humanity. We ain’t playing with ’em. We bringing home the trophies.”
That “paradigm shift” and “trophies” have a lot to do with the future of his Yeezy fashion line, architecture, and all his plans for his vast Wyoming properties. They also, apparently, have to do with new music. West touched upon nearly quitting rap until a conversation with one of his pastors. “Then one of my pastors told me, ‘My son just said that he would want a rap album about Jesus from Kanye West.’ He didn’t say, ‘Kanye West, you should do this,’ or ‘you need to do this.’ He just told me something that a child said. And that one thing made the difference.”
It was previously revealed that West was in Mexico working on a new album before the coronavirus lockdown began, but the GQ article implies the effort is much further along than we thought. GQ editor in chief Will Welch actually got to hear various takes of the new material “from a playlist of 54 tracks.” That included a song called “Washed in Blood”, which featured religious lyricism but “Yeezus-like industrial horror noises.” Welch noted that while the sonic landscape might be different, the songs were definitely “worship songs.”
Discussing his aversion to the word “ambitious,” West also revealed a lyric from the in-the-works album: “I made it back from addiction, I beat the predictions, brought real to the fictions.”
There are plenty of other insights in the story, including West labeling himself a “functioning alcoholic,” the legacy of albums like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and recording “thirty, forty percent of The College Dropout” on a Roland VS-1680 and “twenty percent” of Jesus Is King on an iPhone. There is also a brief story about running into Timothée Chalamet and Shia LaBeouf at Kid Cudi’s birthday party and the crew Kanye West has to turn around his Lamborghini after he parks it.
The whole thing is worth a read, so head over to GQ for the full thing.