Kanye West once said he doesn't do press but that he gets the most press. While the press has been buzzing about his latest project, June 18's Yeezus, West took a moment to do press, speaking with Jon Caramanica of The New York Times. In the interview, which also discusses this album's influences, West compares himself to Steve Jobs and dead prez.
"I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means," Kanye West said. "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...I’ve been connected to the most culturally important albums of the past four years, the most influential artists of the past ten years. You have like, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, Nicolas Ghesquière, Anna Wintour, David Stern."
"I used to have tracks that sounded like Timbaland; I had tracks that sounded like [DJ Premier]. But Jay-Z was an amazing communicator that made the soul sound extremely popular. And because I could make the soul sound in my sleep, it finally gave me a platform to put the message that my parents put inside of me and that dead prez helped to get out of me and Mos Def and [Talib] Kweli, they helped to get out of me: I was able to put it, sloppily rap it, on top of the platform that Jay-Z had created for me...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."
His connection to dead prez must have been strong. In this interview, West declares, "I am dead prez."
"That’s how I discovered my style. I was just hanging out with them all the time in New York. I would produce for them. You know, I was able to slip past everything with a pink polo, but I am dead prez. And now, because I was able to slip past, I have a responsibility at all times."
Much of the recent conversation surrounding West's Yeezus has been around his work with Rick Rubin. According to reports, West and Rubin have been fine-tuning the album, making some changes before it is released. This interview confirms those reports, with West explaining how much Rubin has helped him.
"For [Rubin], it’s really just inside of him. 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," West shared.
"This album is moments that I haven’t done before, like just my voice and drums. What people call a rant — but put it next to just a drumbeat, and it cuts to the level of, like, Run-DMC or KRS-One," he added. "The last record I can remember — and I’m going to name records that you’ll think are cheesy — but like, J-Kwon, “Tipsy.” People would think that’s like a lower-quality, less intellectual form of Hip Hop, but that’s always my No. 1. There’s no opera sounds on this new album, you know what I mean? It’s just like, super low-bit. I’m still, like, slightly a snob, but I completely removed my snob heaven songs; I just removed them altogether."
Kanye West's Yeezus has been highly discussed since it was announced. He then made headlines by debuting a new song and video with "New Slaves" on buildings using a projector. Yeezy also added Rick Rubin as the Executive Producer of the album recently. The album is set for release June 18.