Mon 20 Jan 2014
Kanye West is the cover star for Interview Magazine‘s fiery February 2014 issue. For the cover story, Yeezy was interviewed by British director Steve McQueen (the guy behind 12 Years a Slave), and their phone call made for some insightful and in-depth conversation.
Aside from reciting his usual spiel about the fashion industry and corporations, Kanye discussed how the car accident in 2002 changed his outlook on life, what sex and love mean to him, his definition of success, and black identity. Ye also shared an old story from the Roc-A-Fella days when he was being threatened by another Chicago rapper, so Dame Dash had to “apply a bit of gangster.”
MCQUEEN: Let’s go deep very quickly then: Talk to me about who you were and who you’ve become — both before and after your accident, the car crash. Who are those two people, Kanye before and Kanye after? Are they different people? Was there a seismic change in who you were after you nearly lost your life?
WEST: I think I started to approach time in a different way after the accident. Before I was more willing to give my time to people and things that I wasn’t as interested in because somehow I allowed myself to be brainwashed into being forced to work with other people or on other projects that I had no interest in. So simply, the accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do. I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, “Hey, I need some time to recover.” But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout. Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction—so many people I somehow owed something to—and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.
Read more quotes after the jump…
MCQUEEN: But there must have been moments of doubt or depression or sadness. I mean, with what happened after the Taylor Swift incident [at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards] and all the negativity that came your way as the result of that. How did you deal with it all mentally, physically, and spiritually?
WEST: It’s funny that you would say “mentally, physically, spiritually” because my answer before you even said that was going to be “god, sex, and alcohol.”
MCQUEEN: People can get lost in all of those things. So how did you arrive where you are now after coming through that period?
WEST: Well, I don’t have an addictive personality, so that means that I can lean on what might be someone else’s vice just enough to make it through to the next day. You know, just enough religion, a half-cup of alcohol with some ice in it and a nice chaser, and then …
MCQUEEN: A lot of sex. [both laugh]
WEST: Yeah—a lot of sex. And then I’d make it to the next week.
MCQUEEN: What does love mean to you right now at this moment in time?
WEST: Love … Well, if someone has got all the money in the world, they’d still want love.
MCQUEEN: But now you’ve got a situation in your life where you’ve got a daughter, which is a different kind of love—an unconditional love that maybe you only get to have in another way with your parents. What has that experience been like so far?
WEST: I think I have to experience it for another few years to be able to give you an opinion. It’s all brand new, how it feels to be a father. There are some things that I understand, certain things that I don’t understand, certain things that I like to get off my chest in interviews, certain things that I want to talk about. But when we talk about love, I don’t have an answer. All I can say is that I’m happy I have it.
MCQUEEN: I hate to put a stereotype on any profession, but there seems to be a certain loneliness associated with being a musician. Do you ever feel lonely?
WEST: Well, I’ve got my astronaut family. You know, becoming famous is like being catapulted into space—sometimes without a space suit. We’ve seen so many people combust, suffocate, get lost in all these different things. But to have an anchor of other astronauts and to make a little space family … I mean, it’s not like I’m the guy in The Hunger Games  begging for people to like me. I’m almost the guy with the least amount of “likes.” I wanted a family. So god gives you opportunities, and you make sacrifices for something that’s greater.
MCQUEEN: I grew up in Europe, in London, and you grew up in the States. When was the first time you came to Europe? Do you remember?
WEST: I think it was when Damon Dash had me and some other Roc-A-Fella artists come over. He stressed the importance of connecting with London, especially. Then we went to France, and I hated France when we first went there. Now, of course, I love it. But at the time, there was a rapper out of Chicago who wanted me to show up at some event of his, and he was trying to threaten me in some way physically if I didn’t show up because we had done a record together. And Dame Dash had to man-up on the situation and apply a bit of gangster to have them fall back, just for me to be able to get on that first flight to London.
Read the full interview here.
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