Kanye West sat for a new interview with The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica and chops it up about feeling suicidal, Drake’s writing contribution to ye, his controversial slavery remarks on TMZ, his support for Trump and more. Check out except from the interview below and read the full interview now at NY Times.
“I think it was totally beautiful, both of them,” he said. “The Charlamagne one was like the most beautiful funeral you’ve ever been to, and you close the casket, and say this is done.”
And the TMZ one?
And the TMZ one was the [expletive], the casket like [makes opening motion and screams] and the people in church is like [mimes shock and horror and shrieks] “slave?!” Ahhh! Ahhh!
How does it make you feel when you know an experiment didn’t work?
Awesome. I learned so much. I learned about the context of the idea of the word slave. I didn’t take it in that context. I think that my personality and energy mirrors Nat Turner, or it had in the past, but that showed me that also that Nat Turner approach would land me in the same place Nat Turner landed, and that I would be legendary but also just a martyr. But I guess we’re all martyrs eventually, and we’re all guaranteed to die.
To clarify, do you believe that slavery in this country was a choice?
Well, I never said that.
If you could say it again how would you frame it?
I wouldn’t frame a one-liner or a headline. What I would say is actually it’s literally like I feel like I’m in court having to justify a robbery that I didn’t actually commit, where I’m having to somehow reframe something that I never said. I feel stupid to have to say out loud that I know that being put on the boat was — but also I’m not backing down, bro. What I will do is I’ll take responsibility for the fact that I allowed my voice to be used back to back in ways that were not protective of it when my voice means too much.
Back to back?
Wearing the [Trump] hat, because my voice is unprotected, and I believe that the black community wants to protect my voice. By me saying slave in any way at TMZ left my voice unprotected. So it’s not a matter of the facts of if I said that exact line or not, it’s the fact that I put myself in a position to be unprotected by my tribe.
Do you feel that if black fans abandon you, that’s something that you could come back from? Do you think that is a death blow?
It’s not going to happen.
It’s just not going to happen?
Like I said, wouldn’t leave. Like yes, got a bunch of different opinions. You’re not always going to agree, but they’re not going to leave.
Kanye admits to considering suicide:
He discusses the lyrics of the opening song on ye, ‘I Thought About Killing You,’ where he alludes to suicide. “Oh yeah, I’ve thought about killing myself all the time. It’s always a option and [expletive]. Like Louis C.K. said: I flip through the manual. I weigh all the options. I’m just having this epiphany now, ’cause I didn’t do it, but I did think it all the way through. But if I didn’t think it all the way through, then it’s actually maybe more of a chance of it happening.”
Clarifies Slavery comments:
“I said the idea of sitting in something for 400 years sounds — sounds — like a choice to me, I never said it’s a choice. I never said slavery itself — like being shackled in chains — was a choice.” He added that he would be more careful about how he words his thoughts from now on: “I wouldn’t frame a one-liner or a headline. What I would say is actually it’s literally like I feel like I’m in court having to justify a robbery that I didn’t actually commit, where I’m having to somehow reframe something that I never said. I feel stupid to have to say out loud that I know that being put on the boat was — but also I’m not backing down, bro. What I will do is I’ll take responsibility for the fact that I allowed my voice to be used back to back in ways that were not protective of it when my voice means too much.” Clarifying what he meant by “back to back,” he acknowledges that wearing the M.A.G.A. hat and then discussing slavery on TMZ “left [his] voice unprotected.”
Drake wrote the hook on ‘Yikes’:
Yes, Drake had written on “The Life of Pablo,” which was not a secret. And as it happens, he wrote for Kanye on “Ye” as well — the hook for “Yikes” is his. (He also wrote a whole first verse, Kanye said, though it didn’t make the final album.)
Kanye was concerned Kim might actually leave him after the infamous TMZ interview:
There was a moment where I felt like after TMZ, maybe a week after that, I felt like the energy levels were low, and I called different family members and was asking, you know, ‘Was Kim thinking about leaving me after TMZ? So that was a real conversation.
Kanye hunted down Cardi B’s co-writer on ‘Drip’ for contributing to ye:
After hearing Cardi B rap “I gotta stay out of Gucci/I’m finna run out of hangers” on her song “Drip,” Kanye tracked down her co-writer, Pardison Fontaine, and brought him to Wyoming: “I was just like, that’s something that I would have thought of and would like to say.”
Is there anything a person could do that is so beyond the pale that you would not support them, even if you liked them?
I wanted to make my album cover the doctor that performed my mom’s last surgery. I think that’s pretty big on the cancel-culture territory. I’m starting saying, “I’m not canceling him,” ’cause the world canceled him. I believe in the court of public opinion that that thought has to change.
Do you feel there is an expectation of you — because you’re a successful black man in this country — to take on certain political or cultural positions?
Oh yeah, definitely. When I was in high school, most of my opinions were, like, only me and a couple people who thought like me.
But now you feel the pressure to speak for a whole group of people?
Nah. It’s a rhetorical dumbass question — you could just say yes — but do you think there are a lot of husband-and-wife situations where the husband in the household liked Trump and voted on Trump and maybe the wife didn’t, or vice versa?