On Tuesday, Kanye West shared his recent interview with Charlamagne tha God. In the nearly two-hour video, the two discuss his 2016 public breakdown, which caused him to cancel many of his Saint Pablo tour dates, his personal relationship with JAY-Z, how Obama hurt his feelings, and how he started identifying as a Donald Trump supporter. Below are a selection of quotes from the exchange; watch the entire interview here.
On what caused his breakdown
“Fear, stress, being controlled, manipulation….Like being a pawn in a chess piece of life. The concept of competition, and being in competition with so many elements at one time….To put that same amount of work into a piece of work [The Life of Pablo] and you’re expecting it to come out like Graduation where really everything is playing on the radio, it’s frustrating. And really since the Taylor Swift moment, it’s never been the same, that connection with radio. Whatever powers that be, it was much harder after that….the radio element was just one of the factors. There’s like, the situation with my wife in Paris and all the elements of like, you’re feeling helpless.”
“Nah, I use the world as my therapist. Anyone I talk to is my therapist. I will pull them into the conversation of what I’m feeling at that point and get their perspective. Sometimes they’ll be like, ‘damn I’m talking to Ye, I’m not expecting to talk about this.’ You know, I’ll talk through things, and I put that as advice to people: use people around you as your therapist, cause they probably know more about you. Like a therapist does a crash course in Ye and then comes and is like, ‘I wanna give you some advice,’ and I’m not saying that therapists are bad, I’m just saying that I like just talking to acquaintances, friends, family, and you know, I keep them on the phone for 45 minutes at a time talking through things, so it’s kind narcissistic, talking about my problems, using their energy, even like, them being a sounding board, and talking through it.”
On being in the hospital
"I hit the glass ceiling, you ever seen a bird fly into a window. They don’t know it’s glass. When I hit the hospital that was a bird flying into a window. I could’ve not made it out of there but I survived.
I’m happy it happened, I’m happy to have gone to the other side and came back. I want to point out the moment you’re in the hospital bed and you’re next to your friend and you tell them don’t leave my side and they put you inside of an elevator and take your friends away from you that was the scariest moment of my life. I thought I was going to get killed."
On losing his confidence in the hospital post-breakdown
“I never had the empathy for people who lacked confidence. I had so much of it, I didn’t know what it was like to be without it….It just wasn’t Black Panther, Superman level confidence. It was just, placed into the simulation….I wouldn’t speak up…Maybe a doctor could give an explanation.”
On his issues with JAY-Z
“My issues with Jay just came down to information. I’m super hungry for information. I need information more than validation, more than finance…..Actually, the money [referenced in “KILL JAY-Z”] he got from Live Nation. It was a touring deal. But the fact that it was worded that it came from him. I’m a very loyal, emotional, artist person. That made me feel that I owed more than just the money itself, that it came from him.”
On whether he went too far when he talked about JAY-Z’s family
“Depends on how you look at it. If we’re brothers, then it’s my family too. If we’re business associates, then it’s too far. If it’s family, you’re not gonna miss a wedding.”
On his Pablo tour rants
“I think to do the rants were brave….Feeling is more important than thought. I had enough of the politics. And that’s the world that we’re at in right now. people are speaking their truth, people expressing themselves, and I been waiting for this, I been waiting for this moment.”
On his issues with Obama
“Obama came to me before he ran for office, to me and my mother, to let me know he was going to run for office, because I am his favorite artist, because I am the greatest artist of all time….so Obama is like, Ye, you’re my favorite artist, I want your support, I’m running for office. Then, I went on stage. And it would have been good if this video didn’t get out, but you saw the video [where Obama called him a jackass for rushing Taylor Swift on stage at the MTV Movie Awards]. The same person that sat down with me and my mom I think should have communicated with me directly.
I felt a little way about Obama like, I’m your favorite artist, you play “Touch the Sky” at your inauguration, and now, all a sudden, Kendrick and JAY and all the people you invite to the White House, like, now these your favorite rappers now. I ain’t got no problem with these rappers, but you know I’m your favorite but I’m not safe. But that’s why you love me! So just tell me you love me. And tell the world you love me! Don’t tell the world I’m a jackass...Something about me going on stage is similar to what you was doing. ’Cause I’m fighting to break the simulation, break the setup....And then I also like had a problem that Obama’s from Chicago and Chicago’s the murder capital of the world.”
On loving Trump
"I don’t have all the answers that a celebrity is supposed to have, but I can tell you that when he was running it was like I felt something. The fact that he won, its like it proves something. It proves that anything is possible in America...that Donald Trump is the president of America. I’m not talking about what he’s done in office.
Remember when I said I was going to run for president? I had people close to me, friends of mine, making joke, making memes, talking shit, and now it’s like, oh that was proven that it could happen...When I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that. I like that it showed you that anything is possible. Virgil working at Louis Vuitton, Trump in office, it’s time for the unconventional. I’m not a traditional thinker, I’m a nonconformist so that relates to the nonconformist part of me. But I’m a producer. I like to elevate things, chop it up — so what’s the Ye version. Maybe it’s the Trump campaign with Bernie Sanders principles. That would be my mixing stuff, but I think both are needed."
On why he went to Trump Tower
“I’m not gonna let myself off easy by saying, oh I met with Trump cause I was going through something. I ain’t gonna give the universe that. Nah, Ima face it, and they gonna face me. This is the Ye that wanted to do something, to change something. And I would meet him today, and I would talk about Chicago. First. We could eventually get into a lot of elements. But, we’ll start there.”
On higher aspirations for Yeezy
“The reason that we went into fashion...was actually to take the incredible HSP — highly sensitive people — in the fashion house and bring them to some place where they can consistently connect with the public. Yeezy will end up like a relief company. If there’s a disaster we’re going to dress, we’re going to bring clothes and water. The same design perspective that can sell a $300 shirt, we’re going to give it. Eventually that’s who we’ll be. You’ll look up, 5 10 years from now, Yeezy will be the biggest service provider of apparel.
I am in too good of a position where I have to be away from my wife, daughters, and my son."
On putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill - Here are all the best “free thoughts” from Kanye West’s interview with Charlamagne
“That was the moment that I wanted to use bitcoin, when I saw Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill. It's like when you just see like all the slave movies it's like, why you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? Why don't you show us...put Michael Jordan on a $20 bill."
On the value of artists
"The music industry is set up for you to have just enough money to have a car, pay for your kids, a house, and be on tour for the rest of your life until you die. It isn’t set up for you to literally to buy an island like Phil Knight. It isn’t set up for the artists to win. It’s like boxing. More artists end up retarded than rich."
On being shut out by Silicon Valley
"That’s why I tweeted to Mark Zuckerberg is because he wanted to meet with me. We hung out a few times, we were talking about my ideas. There was really not a lot of follow up to that. These guys, they’ll support someone who has one idea they can capitalize off of. Then there’s the guy who’s done everything in every field he’s ever put his mind to and I’m like help me get a valuation. It’ll be people who know how to do that, I’m hanging with them they don't show me how to do that. Why are you keeping me misinformed?
I thought learning the valuation was like a slave getting a social security number. It was like, I’m worth this much."
On managers and Scooter Braun
"My last and final manager was Scooter Braun. I’ve had every manager. Gee Roberson, Jay Brown, Izzy. I just can’t be managed.
[Scooter Braun] is a Jewish guy, someone who understands business, but also who understands how to communicate on a personal level with a black person. Like on a personal level. We would get on the phone and he would talk to me for hours. He was Kanye West’s gateway drug to business. I would just trust the manger, let them handle everything, it becomes one big racket, the tour guy is talking to the label guy, who’s talking to the manger, talking to the guy that sold you the house and then you’re just trapped. You’re not in control of your life anymore, then you can be easily manipulated. A whole album with Paul McCartney can become a single for Rihanna. You’re trapped in this box of the idea of your perception and the music industry.
Scooter Braun is Kanye West’s gateway drug to business and maybe the death of the music industry as we know it."
On 360 deals
"360 deal make me think of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. It’s still some old slave shit."
On buying 300 acres in California and starting to develop real estate
"I’m going to build five properties. It’s my first community. I’m getting into development. Anybody who’s ever been to any of my cribs knows I’m into developing homes. It’s the next frontier for me to develop.
We’re standing on my first property. So I’m going to be one of the biggest real estate developers of all time, what Howard Hughes was to airlines, and what Henry Ford was to cars, and just the relationships I have to architects...I’m tired of the McMansions. That shit is wack. It’s trash bruh...Unless it’s Howard Backen.
We’re going to develop cities."
"It’s an imperfect solution to calm me down. There’s a lot of ways to calm me down. There’s power in being in control and calm. An XMen really understanding to use his superpower, or Superman. That’s me. Once the kryptonite is gone and I got the confidence anything is possible. Building acres, raps, stadium tours, designs, companies, ideas to ignite the next generation."
On whether or not he can trust his in-laws and their reality show ways
"Of course I’m going to give you a slick answer on that because I gotta go home. Right now, we’re writing part of the story by speaking. I like the way my wife communicates and documents things. As an artist I think it's good to document ourselves, document our now, see if we can recognize ourselves in a different life."
On what College Dropout Kanye would think of him now
"I think he’d be happy, satisfied, and he would believe it. You know how people say, I wouldn’t believe it. I’ve always believed it."