Yeezus has spoken. Kanye West has avoided the press, but he granted his first interview in a long time to The New York Times. Writer Jon Caramanica visited the 36-year-old superstar in Malibu as he was putting the finishing touches on his sixth album Yeezus with executive producer Rick Rubin.
In the in-depth interview, which took place over the course of three days, West opened up about his music and personal life including his girlfriend Kim Kardashian and their soon-to-be daughter. He also touched on some of the controversial moments in his career such as the Taylor Swift debacle at the VMAs and his comments about former President George W. Bush.
West has adopted a simpler lifestyle, which is reflected on Yeezus and in his wardrobe. “I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body,” says ‘Ye, who cringes when reflecting on his past fashion choices.
But his ego remains in tact. “Respect my trendsetting abilities,” declares West, who likens himself to Steve Jobs. “Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins.”
He admits to not having any regrets. However, when asked if his apology to Taylor Swift was sincere, he says that peer pressure made him do it.
Read highlights from the candid interview below.
On the Grammys: “I don’t know if this is statistically right, but I’m assuming I have the most Grammys of anyone my age, but I haven’t won one against a white person. But the thing is, I don’t care about the Grammys; I just would like for the statistics to be more accurate.”
On speaking up for Justin Timberlake: “I remember when both Gnarls Barkley and Justin [Timberlake] lost for Album of the Year, and I looked at Justin, and I was like: ‘Do you want me to go onstage for you? You know, do you want me to fight?'”
On apologizing to Taylor Swift: “Yeah, I think that I have like, faltered, you know, as a human. My message isn’t perfectly defined. I have, as a human being, fallen to peer pressure.”
On whether his pain has influenced his art: “Great art comes from great artists. There’s a bunch of people that are hurt that still couldn’t have made the album that was super-polarizing and redefined the sound of radio.”
On when he knew he was going to be famous: “I knew when I wrote the line ‘light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson’ [from the song ‘Slow Jamz’] I was going to be a big star. At the time, they used to have the Virgin music [stores], and I would go there and just go up the escalator and say to myself, ‘I’m soaking in these last moments of anonymity.’ I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen.”
On Dead Prez’ influence: “Before, when I wanted to rap, my raps sounded like a bit like Cam’ron; they sounded a bit like Mase; they sounded a bit like Jay-Z or whoever. And it wasn’t until I hung out with Dead Prez and understood how to make, you know, raps with a message sound cool that I was able to just write ‘All Falls Down’ in 15 minutes.”
On Kim Kardashian: “I’m the type of rock star that likes to have a girlfriend, you know? I’m the type of soul that likes to be in love and likes to be able to focus. And that inspires me.”
On why he does not appear on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”: “You know, the amount of backlash I got from it is when I decided to not be on the show anymore. And it’s not that I have an issue with the show; I just have an issue with the amount of backlash that I get. Because I just see like, an amazing person that I’m in love with that I want to help.”
On becoming a father: “One of the things was just to be protective, that I would do anything to protect my child or my child’s mother. As simple as that. … I just don’t want to talk to America about my family. Like, this is my baby. This isn’t America’s baby.”
On working with Rick Rubin: “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.”
On his fashions from five-to-seven years ago: “Yeah, kill self. That’s all I have to say. Kill self.”
On his place in pop culture: “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.”
For the full interview, visit NYTimes.com.