This weekend, it was revealed that Kanye West would be covering the upcoming August issue of GQ. Today, we have the cover story — an interview with Zach Baron that touches on everything from his marriage, Yeezus one year later, and giving up the top spot to Drake. Per usual, there’s lots of great quotables so let’s get right to it…
He’s [Kanye] also got a new record—maybe even a full-on pop record, though he hasn’t decided yet. He knows he is no longer the most popular man in rap. “Currently that spot is taken,” West says. “Let’s be honest—he got last summer.”
“You know. There’s only one person.”
“Yeah. He got last summer. And I’d never given it up till last summer.” Now he’s thinking about taking it back. “It’s a real question for me. Do I want to?”
On Yeezus one year later:
“I think Yeezus is the beginning of a completely new era of music. It was all new rules. It just broke every rule possible. None of the ideas were popular ideas. Even “Bound 2,” when the video came out, I think people’s apprehension—I mean, it’s the same as any other Kanye West video. You just have colorful bears running around. It was completely morphed and weird and psychedelic and really druggy. I would have just liked to have had more nudity in it. That’s the only thing. I just want to do crazy, colorful shit like that that has more nudity.”
“New Slaves.” The second verse. I argue that it’s the best rap verse of all time. It’s the Coming to America or Anchorman of a verse. You know, it’s got the funny shit. It’s got the antagonization. It’s got patterns. It’s got social and political consciousness. It’s got struggle. It’s got bravado. It’s everything that a rap verse is supposed to be.
Even lyrically, 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. Ball so hard, man, this shit cray, nigga. You ain’t getting money unless you got eight figures. Right?
People definitely weren’t getting water first on Yeezus. I do fight with myself to say, “Keep fighting.” But also, you know, you can’t win every single fight. It’s a long war, and if you’re out there trying to, like, blow up every single building, you won’t win the war.”
On his upcoming album:
I hope I can get one of these songs out in the next couple of weeks, just to have something up and running. But I think most likely September. I go back and forth. Like, should it be September or should it be October? Should it be November? When Beyoncé was working on her last album, she took a while. I was thinking it could somehow come out in June, like Yeezus, and just kill it for the summer. But then I’m like, I have to work on Adidas and be with my child.
This time three years ago, here at the Mercer, working on “Niggas in Paris,” at this time in early June, it was apparent it was still not finished. I had the “married at the mall” line, we had “that shit cray,” Jay had his verse… Jay finished his verse. He always finishes, and my shit is always kind of open. Like, “Okay, now I’ve got the Will Ferrell sample, so I need to say something that finishes the verse. But people have to not know what it means.” [laughs] So it’s like problem-solving to get to the point where you’re saying, “going gorillas.” It’s difficult sometimes.
But now, for the new album, one new thing could change everything. I had an idea of the way I wanted to do the album. And then I got a new song that’s so good that the album has to be balanced against it. This song is a song that can be in the club like “Don’t Like” or “Niggas in Paris.” Whereas before I was working on the album and I had these beautiful songs, they were just more songs. They weren’t saying, “Okay, tuck your whole summer in.” They were just saying, “Hey, I’m a great musician, I make these beautiful songs, and they have all this meaning, and nobody can make anything that means this much.”
“And what I talked about in it was the idea of celebrity, and celebrities being treated like blacks were in the ’60s, having no rights, and the fact that people can slander your name. I said that in the toast. And I had to say this in a position where I, from the art world, am marrying Kim. And how we’re going to fight to raise the respect level for celebrities so that my daughter can live a more normal life. She didn’t choose to be a celebrity. But she is. So I’m going to fight to make sure she has a better life.”
On marrying Kim Kardashian:
“Kim is this girl who fucking turns me on. I love her. This is who I want to be next to and be around. And then people would try to say, “Well, you know, if you’re a musician, you should be with a musician, and if you want to design, you need to be with a girl from the design world.” I don’t give a fuck about people’s opinions. Because when a kid falls in love with an airplane or a bike or a dinosaur—especially if you’re an only child and it’s not because of the book that the sibling was reading—it’s like, fuck, you mean to tell me that the dinosaurs walked the earth and stuff like that?! That’s amazing! You mean to tell me that these giant multi-ton crafts can fly that fast and that loud, and they can flip, and there’s danger, the possibility of them exploding? That’s fucking cool!”
On Jay Z and Beyoncé not attending his wedding:
All that, I wouldn’t even speak on. 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. I was so moved that I just wanted people to stop and think they weren’t sitting at a table full of fashion people, they weren’t sitting at a table full of celebrities, they weren’t sitting at a table full of movie directors. It really was a representation of the way we receive information today, post-Internet. And so Page Six can’t overshadow the main point: Carine Roitfeld was sitting next to Kim Kardashian. That alone to me is like the same moment when I brought Mos Def to the studio with Jay Z. It’s about the people, and the fact that they’re from different walks of life, and that they’re working together and not discriminating against each other. There was a class system, and now there’s a creative class system, and I think that’s what you were talking about a bit—the class system of creativity.
On comparing himself to a blowfish:
Yeah. I’m a blowfish. I’m not a shark, I’m a blowfish. So that perfect example about me hitting my head, it’s like a blowfish. I wasn’t coming out of my house going to a paparazzi’s house to attack them. I’m defending my family in front of my own house. I’m defending my name as someone’s screaming something negative at me. That’s a blowfish. People have me pinned as a shark or a predator in some way, and in no way am I that. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. I want to defend people. I want to help people.
Once again, the full, fascinating interview is up at GQ.com.
ICYMI: Kanye West’s full GQ spread