An interview with Kanye West is never boring, so spending three days with him is sure to be filled with interesting moments. That’s what the New York Times did for a new profile on the rapper titled “Into the Wild With Kanye West,” and per usual, West’s sound bites were never dull.
Here are seven of the buzziest moments from the article.
Kanye West “isn’t backing down” from the idea that slavery “sounds like a choice,” but he regrets his word selection.
The rapper says his controversial statement during that fateful TMZ interview was a failure of language, not ideas.
“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 exclaims. “That’s why I went from slave to 400 years to mental prison to this and that. If you look at the clip you see the way my mind works.”
In May, West said on TMZ Live, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? You know like, it’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
“To clarify, do you believe that slavery in this country was a choice?” the Times reporter asks West.
“Well, I never said that,” the rapper responds.
“If you could say it again how would you frame it?”
“I wouldn’t frame a one-liner or a headline,” West says. “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.”
By “back to back,” West means his flurry of tweets in support of Trump and days later making the slavery comment.
“Wearing the [Trump] hat, because my voice is unprotected, and I believe that the black community wants to protect my voice,” he says. “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.”
The slavery comment really did have an impact on his marriage to Kim Kardashian.
On his track “Wouldn’t Leave,” West raps about the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star’s frantic response to the TMZ Live interview — and the “Yikes” singer was worried Kim Kardashian might leave him.
“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?’” he tells the Times. “So that was a real conversation.”
The song is also meant to acknowledge those fans that didn’t abandon him. “Half the people that are listening to the album are supposed to not listen to the album right now,” he says. “I’m canceled. I’m canceled because I didn’t cancel Trump.”
“I’ve thought about killing myself all the time.”
Kanye West raps about suicidal thoughts on “I Thought About Killing You,” and he admits that the lyrics are literal.
“Oh yeah, I’ve thought about killing myself all the time,” he shares. “It’s always a option and [expletive]. Like Louis C.K. said: I flip through the manual. I weigh all the options.”
He later adds, “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.”
West is trying to “learn” how to not be on medication.
The rapper first retreated to Wyoming in early 2017, after his hospitalization and bipolar diagnosis.
“We came here just for healing,” he exclaims. “Getting my brain together and [expletive].” West was heavily medicated, but he says he’s now “learning how to not be on meds,” adding proudly, “I took one pill in the last seven days.” (This interview took place the first week of June.) After West’s erratic interview on TMZ Live, reports claimed that he had gone off his medication. However, he has not commented on those specifics.
Kim Kardashian enlisted Tony Robbins to stage an intervention with West after his breakdown.
Months after West’s nine-day hospitalization in November 2016, his wife arranged an intervention with Tony Robbins. When the rapper walked into their home, he was surprised to find the motivational speaker sitting in their living room.
“He could look at me and you know, I don’t know why he mentioned suicide, but he could tell that I was very low,” West recalls. “Really medicated, shoulders slumped down, and my confidence was gone, which is a lot of the root of my superpower, because if you truly have self-confidence, no one can say anything to you.”
Robbins looked West in the eyes and asked the rapper to stand up, get into a warrior pose, and scream.
“I was so self-conscious about the nanny and the housekeeper that I didn’t want them to hear me screaming in the living room,” West explains. “I think that that’s such a metaphor of something for the existence of so-called well-off people that they’re not really well-off — they won’t even scream in their own house.”
West says he “still felt self-conscious,” but it was a start.
Everyone close to West took issue with his support of President Trump — including his dad.
West’s father visited him in Wyoming after his MAGA tweets and slavery comments. “He expressed that he felt that some of the policies were hurtful and that I’m a person that does not intend to hurt people, never hurts people with intention,” West reveals. “I expressed the example that I have a cousin that’s locked up for doing something bad, and I still love him, so I don’t base my love for a person on if they doing something good or bad.”
The rapper notes that he had his “[expletive] [expletive] castrated” over supporting Trump, adding that his family said, “You have to like Hillary [Clinton]. That’s got to be your choice.” (Kim Kardashian was a staunch Clinton supporter.)
Then he clarifies, “The family meaning the world — because you’re black, because you make very sensitive music, because you’re a very sensitive soul, it was like an arranged marriage or something. And I’m like, that’s not who I want to marry. I don’t feel that. I believe that I’m actually a better father because I got my [expletive] voice back, I’m a better artist because I got my voice back. I was living inside of some universe that was created by the mob-thought, and I had lost who I was, so that’s when I was in the sunken place. You look in my eyes right now — you see no sunken place.”
West likes the way Trump talks but doesn’t agree with everything POTUS says.
The rapper says he got out of the sunken place after “learning how to not be highly medicated” and finding his voice again — which included backing Trump.
“You know, just standing up saying I know I could lose a lot of things, but just standing up and saying what you feel, and not even doing a lot of research on it. Having a political opinion that’s overly informed, it’s like knowing how to dress, as opposed to being a child — ‘I like this,’” he states. “I hear Trump talk and I’m like, I like the way it sounds, knowing that there’s people who like me that don’t like the way it sounds.”
“But if he says something like he doesn’t want to let Muslims into the country, do you like the way that sounds?” the reporter asks.
“No, I don’t agree with all of his policies,” West says.
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