Bass Wave: Interview With Kanye West
Augustus Britton (AB): Hello, Kanye.
Kanye West (KW): Hi.
Kanye is sitting back in a burgundy Eames lounge chair. His eyes are glassy. He’s dressed in high-priced rags, it seems. His bottom teeth are all gold. I’m looking at the 21st century ideal for about half the planet.
AB: You know I sat next to you on a plane once…
KW: Oh, yeah? Where was it?
AB: It was, kind of, before you were really famous. We were flying from LAX to Tucson, Arizona. I was going to see you perform at The University of Arizona. It was The Glow In The Dark Tour.
KW: I’ve been on a lot of planes. I really don’t like flying. But, like, it’s part of commerce, so, you know…What was I wearing?
AB: You had a lot of pastel colors on.
KW: (chuckles) Yeah, that sounds right.
AB: I was actually really into A Bathing Ape at the time and all of this street wear bullshit. I was wearing my Bapes and I was hoping you would notice. I couldn’t believe you were on the plane next to me. It was a Southwest airlines flight with no first class.
KW: Was I alone?
AB: No, you had a few people with you. But…you stayed in the bathroom the whole flight.
KW: (laughs loudly. his upper section of teeth are so white) I don’t think I was in there shitting, I promise! I don’t shit on planes.
KW: I can’t. I have a sensitive stomach. Did you like the show?
AB: I haven’t been to many concerts, but it was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
KW: Thank you. Are we done now?…I’m kidding…I’m kidding.
AB: Can we talk about The Life of Pablo?
AB: No, your new album.
KW: Yeh. It’s a pastiche, you know? I wasn’t trying to be just one person. I feel like in our souls we are so many people. Wait, lemme rephrase that. At our core level, like the earth’s core, there is one substance, there is just one thing there, I think, and in that same way, people have one thing inside them, which I believe is inherently good. But on this album, I wanted to get a little bipolar, a little schizophrenic. It was scary at times, but I had to do it. And, to be honest with you, I think that’s why a lot of people have a hard time dealing with me, or whatever, because I can’t just stay one way. I’ve been diagnosed with all types a’ shit, but since then I’ve started mellowing out, meditating, kind of, etc…(laughs!) and kind of honing in on who I want to be, which is, in turn, a multi-faceted person.
AB: The album has a lot of that. At one moment you treat women like shit and the next moment they are God’s gift, one minute they’re bitches and the next minute queens. At one moment the fame doesn’t matter, at the next moment, it all matters —
KW: Wow, so were just going to be candid with this, huh?
AB: If we’re not, both of us might as well get up and leave…
Kanye runs his hands across his face, seemingly waking himself up.
KW: See, I met Kim and my whole life changed. I had babies and then my whole life changed…again. Now, when I look at a mountain, I don’t just see a mountain. I like to think I’m able to see what’s behind the mountain, what is inside the mountain, and so on. I believe real artisty requires foresight and insight…
AB: So, you’ve gotten these insights recently? Because I feel like the older you get, the more you really are absolutely not trying to fit into anybody’s wavelength. I know that sounds corny, but that’s what I hear in your work. It’s strictly your own, and if they rock with it they rock with it, if not, fuck em’.
Suddenly, Kanye stands up. He seems to have flipped a switch. I’m slightly concerned.
KW: Did you listen to the track Famous on Pablo?
AB: I did.
KW: Rihanna sings on that track, right? Do you hear how Ri sings? I didn’t want that same old shit. We had her do something offbeat, and it was brilliant. I’m trying to tap into what is not required. I don’t want to think, oh this doesn’t sound right so don’t put it out there, you know? What actually does sound right? I’m not trying to pander. I’m not trying to be another motherfucker on the street with his hand out asking for acceptance.
AB: But people can be vicious if they encounter something new. It can be very hard for people to adjust, and I feel like you flip the script at such a rapid rate.
Kanye slowly, very meticulously sits back into the beautiful Eames lounge chair.
KW: (taking a big breath) I appreciate that…I appreciate you telling me that. Because I forget some times how people can really lack grace. Like, I don’t care if you have an opinion, just don’t be an asshole. I’m never trying to hurt anybody, really. I’m never approaching something like it’s going to affect someone negatively, I’ve never done that. I’m not trying to be oh woe is me, but I usually get attacked first, then I step back and say, damn, fuck, that motherfucker did me bad…
We pause for a second. Kanye checks his phone. He rearranges his position in the chair.
AB: You’re not on Instagram, right?
KW: That’s Kim’s world.
AB: What do you eat?
KW: That’s a stupid question.
AB: Yeah, it was.
KW: I mean, like, I like banal shit like that, but the audience might not wanna’ hear it. Interviews are weird.There is only so much to say. (laughs)
AB: You seem very relaxed.
KW: It’s taken a while.
AB: To be..
KW: Relaxed. I wanted to be where I’m at now so bad. You know, the night I got into the car accident and broke my jaw?
AB: Yes, I don’t know the story exactly, but yes —
KW: I literally hadn’t slept for three days. I was drinking a lot of green tea and kind of smoking a little weed and doing nothing but trying to perfect my skill at making beats. I always wore a seat belt, but that one trip, I had this weird epiphany, it was like, I knew I was going to get into that accident. I was kind of pushing myself toward the edge. To see a precipice and hopefully not fall in.
AB: And the accident was a kind of precipice?
KW: Yeah! Like, I completely went dark. I remember my girl at the time was looking into my eyes one night, we were eating Chinese food or something (laughs) and she says, Yo, Ye, your eyes are black, like you have no color in your eyes…And I sat back in my chair. I broke up with her that next day, something had to change. I am a real romantic and she didn’t get that I had to go take care of myself, don’t tell Kim but I still think about her (laughs) no, not really, but you know, it was odd. I was working toward something, and God put me in that seat without a seatbelt and threw me into another world. I couldn’t do anything about it. Then I came up with Through The Wire. Sorry, where were we?
AB: You were talking about sensitivity…
KW: I was?
AB: Kind of.
KW: I am sensitive. I actually am going to see my children in an hour. Man, you should see me, I break open with them. And the more I notice it, I’m just like a little kid! It’s fun, you know, but it’s also scary, because vulnerability is scary. But, I have to stay strong, stay up, stay in some kind of way to like…still be a creative monster. (laughs)
AB: A walking mirage or something…
KW: No, not mirage. Nothing is a mirage. Even the most abstract shit is true. The stuff that is made of ghosts is true. But, you have to listen to those voices when you’re alone, because that’s your core, that’s your inner way. Artists always say, I gotta find my voice I gotta find my voice. Writers, painters, rappers, producers, whatever. It’s all the same. Man. We were born perfect…Without you none of it matters. Without me none of it matters. And on and on and on…
We spoke for about ten more minutes on what he was going to make for dinner that night at his home in Beverly Hills. He said he has a ritual of cooking one of his mothers dishes every friday if he isn’t on the road.
Then we got up and left the undisclosed location.