10 things we learnt from Kanye West’s New York Times interview

One week out from the release of his sixth solo album Yeezus, Kanye West has given a rare and characteristically candid interview with the New York Times.

Over the course of three days, NYT journalist Jon Caramanica was given access to the rapper’s inner circle, spending time at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-la Studio in Malibu where West was completing work on his record. The resulting interview is a unique insight into one of music’s most polarising characters – dissecting West’s “visceral” new sound while showcasing his unapologetic ambition and propensity to refer to himself in the third person.

Here are a few of the highlights from the interview.

Kanye hates awards (especially Grammys)

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne: neither was nominated for Album of the Year, and I made both of those in one year. I don’t know if this is statistically right, but I’m assuming I have the most Grammys of anyone my age, but I haven’t won one against a white person.”

“But the thing is, I don’t care about the Grammys; I just would like for the statistics to be more accurate. I really appreciate the moments that I was able to win rap album of the year or whatever. But after a while, it’s like: ‘Wait a second; this isn’t fair. This is a setup.’ I remember when both Gnarls Barkley and Justin [Timberlake] lost for Album of the Year, and I looked at Justin, and I was like: Do you want me to go onstage for you? You know, do you want me to fight’.”

Kanye lied to us on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

“That was the album where I gave people what they wanted. I don’t think that at that point, with my relationship with the public and with skeptical buyers, that I could’ve done “Black Skinhead” [from “Yeezus]”

Kanye is “New Wave”

” ‘Stronger’ was the first, like, dance-rap song that resonated to that level, and then 808s was the first album of that kind, you know? It was the first, like, black new wave album. I didn’t realise I was new wave until this project. Thus my connection with [the graphic designer] Peter Saville, with Raf Simons, with high-end fashion, with minor chords. I hadn’t heard new wave! But I am a black new wave artist.”

Kanye was always destined for fame

“I knew when I wrote the line “light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson” [from the song ‘Slow Jamz’] I was going to be a big star. At the time, they used to have the Virgin music [stores], and I would go there and just go up the escalator and say to myself, “I’m soaking in these last moments of anonymity.” I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen.”

Kanye is not having America’s baby

“I would do anything to protect my child or my child’s mother. As simple as that. Hell, I just don’t want to talk to America about my family. Like, this is my baby. This isn’t America’s baby.”

Rick Rubin really is that talented

“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 realise 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.”

Yeezus is a “house” album

“I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house. I think that even ‘Black Skinhead’ could border on house, ‘On Sight’ sounds like acid house, and then ‘I Am a God’ obviously sounds, like, super house.”

Kanye is still ok with wearing a kilt

“I think just more actual self-realization and self-belief. The longer your ‘gevity is, the more confidence you build. The idea of Kanye and vanity are like, synonymous. But I’ve put myself in a lot of places where a vain person wouldn’t put themselves in. Like what’s vanity about wearing a kilt?”

Kanye is the next Steve Jobs

“I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. 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.”

Kanye is the nucleus

“I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: “This is the level that things could be at.” So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it’s supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.”

Read the full interview with Kanye West on the New York Times.

Yeezus will be released on June 18.