Jon Caramanica of the New York Times managed to land one of the most coveted interviews in music: The Elusive Kanye West Q&A. He spent 3 days with Kanye in Malibu as he worked with Rick Rubin to perfect the Yeezus album and wrap it up ahead of it’s release next Tuesday. Ye opened up about pretty much everything you wouldn’t have expected to hear from him about: impending fatherhood, Kim, his perceived egomania, why he feels compelled to speak out for what’s “right”, his current feelings about his previous albums, the new album, his lack of regrets and much more.
Hit the jump for an excerpt.
Here he speaks on his last moments of anonymity and how instrumental dead prez were in helping him develop his style.
Even though you had always wanted to be out in front, was there ever a point where you valued your anonymity?
Yeah, I held on to the last moments of it. 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.
But producting happened for you first, especially after Jay-Z used you so heavily on “The Blueprint.”
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.
Is that true?
Yeah, 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.
Read the full piece here.