I never really bought into the Kanye West Is A Supervillain storyline — partly because he has shaped, and then obliterated and re-shaped, the face of hip-hop and pop music in the past decade, and partly because the vitriol originated from two events in which he kinda, sorta, basically had a point. First was when he called out George Bush in the aftermath of Katrina, and the other was when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs. He was rude and cartoonishly hyperbolic both times, yes. But deep in your gut, you were likely thinking, “Yeah, he’s probably right.”
We know those two incidents forever shaped how people perceived Yeezy, but in a rare, wide-ranging interview with the New York Times, West admits they were hugely transformative moments for him, musically. The Bush thing makes sense: calling the president a racist in front of the world is something that’ll stay with you. But the Swift thing, West all but admits it led him to come up with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Jesus Yeezus Christ, could you have thought that a VMAs incident could end up being so significant? This is the same place where Howard Stern bared his ass cheeks and farted into a mic. The same place where Diana Ross fondled Lil Kim‘s breast.
So Kanye addressed those two watershed moments, and much more in the NYT interview. He comes off sounding like a prodigiously talented, prodigiously arrogant pop culture behemoth, and below we have the 14 quotes that boil him down to his Yessence. You may hate him even more after this or you may think he’s the most entertaining personality in music. I’d say that rather than a supervillain, he’s a mad scientist. Whatever your opinion, we can all agree it’s a shame this profile didn’t come out in time for high school yearbook season.
1. He is the Michael Jordan of music.
“You know, if Michael Jordan can scream at the refs, me as Kanye West, as the Michael Jordan of music, can go and say, ‘This is wrong.’”
2. He’s from the Stephen Colbert school of truthiness.
“I don’t know if this is statistically right, but I’m assuming I have the most Grammys of anyone my age.” Ironically, he goes on to say, “I don’t care about the Grammys; I just would like for the statistics to be more accurate.”
3. Kanye doesn’t fuck with country: the Swift interruption almost happened to the Dixie Chicks first.
“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?’”
4. #yeezy is #rel.
“I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.”
5. He celebrates the Swift thing.
“It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is.”
6. Kanye’s masterpiece was his version of an apology for the Swift incident.
“I don’t have one regret[...] Dark Fantasy was my long, backhanded apology. You know how people give a backhanded compliment? It was a backhanded apology. It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics. I was like: ‘Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.’”
7. It is fallible!
“I love the fact that I’m bad at [things], you know what I’m saying?”
8. He loves the ’80s.
“I am a black new wave artist.”
9. He loves lamp.
“This one Corbusier lamp was like, my greatest inspiration.”
10. Ye regrets his old fashion choices, just like us!
When West looks at his outfits from five or seven years ago, his thoughts: “Yeah, kill self. That’s all I have to say. Kill self.”
11. It’s all about ‘gevity.
“The longer your ‘gevity is, the more confidence you build.”
12. He’s a force for good.
“I want the world to be better! All I want is positive! All I want is dopeness!”
13. He wants to invent the next iPhone, or something?
“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[...] I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture.”
14. He is the nucleus.
“I am the nucleus.”
Read the full NYT interview for even more choice quotes. Seriously, do it.