Kanye West is definitely considered the would-be king of hip-hop. Everyone knows that when Kanye has something to say, he says it. Loud and clear. I’m just sayin’. However, rarely does he take part in an all-access, totally non-exclusive interview. Among turning his crib “Kingish,” he says, he is incorporating Fur Pillows as part of his plan to renovate his home, and according to Kanye, the fur pillows are “hard to actually sleep on.” Interviews with Kanye West have become increasingly rare over the past few years. For a time, the Chicago rapper was unavoidable—on the cover of Time in a blazer and jeans, on the cover of Rolling Stone in a crown of thorns, but then in 2007, the death of his mother Donda knocked him off the radar. Since she passed, there are only a handful of short interviews. His silence was partly presumable due to grief, but West has also communicated his general ambivalence about journalists. “This is my problem with interviews, you know? What if you did music, and someone else could come in and change your words around and then release it to the radio? And you ain’t even get a chance to listen to it before they dropped it to radio? That’s how interviews are! You say what you say and then you get paraphrased,” he’s said. So, as West begins the run-up to the release of his fifth album titled Dark Twisted Fantasy, due to come out in November, he has launched a new-media-heavy promo offensive, in which his words go straight from his mouth to the public record. So far, this tour has involved impromptu, video-recorded performances at the Silicon Valley offices of Facebook and Twitter and a real-time interview with fans on a site called UStream.
By doing things his way, West thinks that if someone’s going to quote him out of context and make him sound like a jerk, it will be him, thank you very much. So in a recent interview, one journalist was invited aboard West’s private jet who he calls “babymama” and then into his home, for round the lock ‘interviewing.” However, this journalist was not allowed to answer any questions, just receive constant updates of his thoughts, whereabouts, cravings, jokes, meals, flirtations, etc. Aboard “babymama” Kanye proceeded to explain why he named his jet what he did: because it’s like a purse dog, it’s the sort of cute, undersized thing a rich guy gets for his mistress. He was wearing a suit because “Everything’s the right backdrop for a suit,” he says.
But now back to those fur pillows. When West complains about the pillows, it’s not just an underhanded brag. It also speaks to a deeper sense that, as life has gotten ever more luxuriously comfortable for him, he has become that much more restive and incapable of truly enjoying it. He fancies himself a ‘king’ these days, but throughout his career he has frequently come across like a princess tossing and turning atop a pea. It’s as though an irritating little voice nags at him from down below, telling him that he still hasn’t achieved everything he can, that he still doesn’t have all the success he deserves, and that he never will. Sometimes he says he doesn’t want to be “limited by the art form of rap,” and sometimes he sets his sights higher and says he doesn’t want to be limited by the 21st century: “When I think of competition it’s like I try to create against the past. I think about Michelangelo and Picasso, you know, the pyramids,” he says.
Last September, when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards, West’s nagging inner voice enjoyed its biggest platform to date—and suffered its biggest rebuke. As Swift accepted her award for best female video, West stormed the stage, grabbed her mic—and the spotlight—to mount a protest on behalf of Beyonce Knowles, whose “Single Ladies” video was up for the same award. He’s apologized, of course, and moved on. Today, West claims he’s “working on being a doper person,” but he seems to be feeling pretty dope as it is. “This is gonna be a dope day,” he says. “Life is awesome. I love me”