Kanye West is talking. Granted, there’s rarely if ever a time when Kanye isn’t talking, but he is explaining quite a few things. In an exclusive with Zach Baron for GQ, West is holding court about his child, his wife, his music and his artistic desires.
If you’re keeping track this has been a banner year for Hip Hop from non-traditional sources. But what does that even mean in 2014? TMZ broke the exclusive footage of Solange Knowles attacking her brother-in-law (one Shawn Corey Carter) in an elevator as if she was Chun-Li in a Street Fighter II video game. French Montana is making headlines in supermarket tabloids like People due to his connection with Khloe Kardashian. And when GQ isn’t taking cues from the latest happenings in Hip Hop from Nahright.com, it’s one of the few places you can both get West to open up and find advice on how to take a masculine bubble bath (if you’re into that sort of thing).
So yeah, print is dead. Long live print. If Yeezus still confuses you and West’s subsequent interviews explaining it still aren’t helping, then there is a 5,500 word Q&A with Yeezy with your name on it. And if you’re too lazy to gorge yourself on Baron’s excellent session with West, here are some of the main takeaways.
Kanye & Kim Have The Most Liked Instagram Photo Ever
Around May 24, 2014, a picture from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding was uploaded to Kardashian’s Instagram account. The result—as of this writing—was 2.37 million likes and 53,500 comments. Obviously there’s tons of tabloid talk given the immense popularity of Kanye and Kim before, during and after their nuptials. But if this is a game, North West’s parents won the Internet and ‘Ye knows it.
“It’s because of Kim,” West told GQ. “Meaning there's no photo that I would have put up by myself, or next to one of my smarty friends, that would have got that amount of likes.”
Given the volatile nature of West’s popularity and the instant vitriolic racism following his 2009 bumrushing of Taylor Swift at the MTV VMAs, he’s got a legit argument.
Kanye West Predicted Both He & Jay Z Would Have Daughters
On Watch The Throne’s RZA-co-produced “New Day” West opens with the line, “And I’ll never let my son have an ego / He’ll be nice wherever we go / I mean I might even make him be Republican, so everybody know he love white people.” In turn, Jay also addresses his unborn child as “Junior” and “Him.” On a tangential note, it’s a bit cryptic that Jay rhymes, “And if the day comes I only see him on the weekends / I just pray we was in love on the night that we conceived him,” amid tabloid-spawned rumors of a pending split from his wife Beyonce Knowles.
“And the joke was that I was supposed to say on the song, ‘Come on, Jay, you know we're both gonna have daughters,’” West revealed.
In hindsight, this is hilarious because both men’s wives did actually give birth to daughters. As it stands, if you’re a fan of the “Bey-Z” union as a power couple, then hold out hope “New Day” wasn’t as prophetic as West wanted it to be.
Fashion Designers Give Kanye More Access After He Called Them Out
One of the most immediate, tangible takeaways from West’s 2013 interviews with Zane Lowe, The Breakfast Club, Sway and Jimmy Kimmel was a partnership with adidas. In what may be their most high-profile Hip Hop client since Run-DMC infamously got a sea of people to hold up their shelltoes at Madison Square Garden, adidas did what Nike allegedly wouldn’t and let West recoup royalties from the product(s) he helped design. The bond was confirmed with a December 2013 statement from adidas welcoming West to the family. West told GQ nothing but positives resulted from him “turning up” on the fashion world.
“That communication was real,” he said. “Alexander Wang made sure that I was able to go to a Balenciaga show, and I was never allowed to do that before because I was a celebrity.”
Turn down for what? The more West seemingly got belligerent, the more the fashion industry—which has historically denied minorities points of access and positions of power—had to be held accountable.
Technically, Half The “Yeezus” Vocals Were Not Recorded In Two Hours
Remember in June of 2013 when Rick Rubin told Newsweek he and West fleshed out (or maybe more accurately hollowed out) Yeezus during the course of 15 days of marathon work sessions? There’s a point where Rubin told Andrew Romano Kanye wanted to record his vocals before heading to Milan for a baby shower.
“He says, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll score 40 points for you in the fourth quarter,’” Rubin revealed. After which, Rubin says West laid down five vocal tracks within a two-hour span, including writing two lyrics from scratch on the spot. West says that’s a bit misleading. He told GQ he spent upwards of eight months working on the lyrics to various Yeezus songs.
“I didn't freestyle those verses,” he clarified. “That shit was worked and processed and Disneyfied and everything.”
So take heart. The lyrics were conceptualized over the course of about eight months, which West said was on par with his usual schedule for crafting an album. He just recorded said lyrics in about 80 or 90 minutes. Despite the jarring sound and intentional minimalism, ‘Ye spent as much time formulating his croissant lines as it took a child to be born.
The Next Kanye West Single From His Fall Album Will Likely Be “All Day”
First, he’s coming out with something! Secondly, the single is called “All Day,” and he claims he said some things he imagined ‘Hov would have.
“I think about certain lines that I say on my new single, which is called “All Day,” that usually Jay would say, but Jay’s not on there. So I say, ‘All day, nigga, it’s ‘Ye, nigga. Shopping for the winter, it’s just May, nigga,’” West said.
Now whether or not Jay would have actually said that is… debatable, but that’s his brother, so who knows better than him? He also mentions not being able to win every fight, and that his usual process is sort of like a pendulum. So expect his next full length LP to be less Yeezus and more MBDTF or Graduation. Which is great for those angling for a Kanye whose slightly less abrasive. It seems your prayers may have been answered.
The Gap Was One Of The Fashion Companies Kanye Ranted About
Kanye gives us some context for singles like “I Am A God” when he talks about his meeting with the Gap about a possible partnership that ended in disappointment.
“I was sitting and trying to do a collaboration with the Gap, in the meeting, when they’re like, ‘No, because you're a celebrity, and you have a bad reputation, and you don't know anything about clothing, so we don't want to do this,’” West recalled.
It must have been a watershed moment for the emcee, considering all he had done in one artistic genre that (or so they thought) was completely non transferable to fashion. In hindsight, disregarding sales was a natural reaction, because as West added, no hit single, critically acclaimed album or award would have changed that perception. But if you’ve ever listened to the single “Spaceship,” you know this isn’t the first time West has had issues with the Gap.
“Yeezus” Was Purposefully Made To Give Kanye More Artistic Access
Yeezus was highly politicized, stark and atomic, but it was also specifically aimed at blasting the barriers between the worlds Yeezy wanted entrance to.
“But Yeezus was extremely purposeful,” West told GQ. “And what came from Yeezus: Paparazzi are nicer to me. The entire fashion industry is nicer to me.”
That may mean Kanye wasn’t just creating a soundscape by which to destroy what we thought of traditional Hip Hop, but what was thought of as the divide between a Hip Hop artist and these other more enclosed artistic spaces.
Kanye Concedes The Summer Of 2013 To Drake
‘Ye does not specifically name the Toronto bred YMCMB artist, but he does acknowledge him when the interviewer drops the name.
“Yeah. He got last summer,” West admitted to Baron. “And I’d never given it up till last summer."
It says a lot of about their relationship. West recently played three of Drake’s joints at the Wireless Hip Hop Festival when Mr. So Far Gone had to cancel last minute, saying, “My homeboy Drake can’t be here but we gotta rep for him tonight.” They’ve been very chummy lately, with Kanye showing up to last years OVO Fest, and referring to Drizzy as a “Rap God” on the Toronto leg of his Yeezus Tour last December.
Kanye Calls Kim Kardashian The Steve McQueen Of TV
Now, this is a contentious statement for obvious reasons, so here’s the exact quote:
“It doesn’t even matter to me whatsoever, who would show up. Because the most important person to show up there, to me, was Kim. And that’s all that matters to me. I had to fight for that for seven years. But the fact that these other people showed up that are from such different worlds but have done such dynamic things—they’re all, in a way, equal to what Kim has done in TV or what I had done in music.”
Kanye said this in reference to Jay and Bey not showing up to his wedding because of tabloids obsessive coverage of Kim. But comparing Kim’s reality TV show career, burgeoning clothing line, endorsement deal, or video game (which may make somewhere around $85 million this year) to what Kanye West has done musically or what Steve McQueen did with Shame or 12 Years A Slave is absurd. While the fight for relevance is similar, maybe even correlative, it is not equal. Some of his artistic achievements and the achievements of the other folks there have changed the nature of their respective art forms. So while he may be speaking through love, we think the facts claim otherwise. Let’s combine that with the fact that on “Clique” ‘Ye claimed, “My girl a superstar all from a home movie,” and you have further grounds for skepticism.