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Kanye West -- the mouth that continues to roar
We like hearing Kanye West rap -- that much is clear from six No. 1 albums, 66 million digital downloads and 21 Grammy Awards, with two more nominations pending this year.
And his latest album, "Yeezus," is popping up on nearly every year-end best-of list, though curiously isn't nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year
But we like to hear West talk, too -- albeit for different reasons.
Outspoken, irreverent and with a verbal trigger he regularly seems to pull well before weighing the impact of what he's saying, the 36-year-old Chicago native is as provocative with his prose as he is with is poetry. Whether it's saying former U.S. President George W. Bush didn't care about black people after Hurricane Katrina or bum-rushing Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, West's non-musical utterances have gotten him into all kinds of trouble -- and netted him plenty of headlines.
The President of the United States (Barack Obama) doesn't call just anyone a "jacka**," you know, although rap pioneer and music executive Russell Simmons defended West this year as "an artist who desperately wants to leave his imprint in the history books...to make this world a bit easier for those who have been dealt a hand of struggle, by showing them a glimmer of hope through his art."
Pick your side, or fall somewhere in the middle. One thing's for sure; West has not disappointed us during the past year, from the release of "Yeezus" through his relationship with Kim Kardashian and the birth of their child, North. West's is the mouth that has roared throughout 2013, and as the year comes to a close -- and he comes to town for a concert this week at the Palace of Auburn Hills -- it feels like the right time to look back at some of his greatest verbal hits in various tweets and TV and radio appearances...
[b]On his status:[/b] "I am (Andy) Warhol. I am the No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh...I've got to a point that MIchael Jackson did not break down. I have reached the glass ceiling, as a creative person, as a celebrity, and I've been at it for 10 years. I look around and I say, 'Wait a minute. There's no one around here that looks like me. And if they are, they're quiet...So that means, 'Wait a second, now we're seriously, like, in a civil rights movement."
On creativity: "The more and more creative I feel and the more creativity I get out, the younger I feel. Mentally I'm at a place where I'm like three years old now. When you're three years old you have less inhibitions about what you draw, and you don't know that Picasso is way better than you. You just know that this is what you want to create, and that's the way I think about it."
On the song "I Am a God:" "I made that song because I am a god. I don't think there's more explanation...When someone comes up and says something like, 'I am a god, everybody says, 'Who does he think he is?' I just told you who I thought I was. A god. I just told you. That's who I think I am. Would it have been better if I had a song that said, 'I am a gangster' or if I had a song that said, 'I am a pimp?' All those colors and patinas fit better on a person like me, right?"
On "Yeezus' " Grammy snub: "I'm 36-years old and I have 21 Grammys. That's the most Grammys of any 36-year old. Out of all of those 21 Grammys, I've never won a Grammy against a white artist. So when the Grammys nominations come out, and 'Yeezus' is the top one or two album on every single list, but only gets two nominations from the Grammys, what are they trying to say? Do they think that I wouldn't notice? Do they think that, someway, that I don't have the power to completely diminish all of their credibility at this moment? But no, no; Only positive energy, only positive vibes. But when you see me talking about what people are doing when I say 'marginalized,' when I say 'boxed in,' when I say 'hold back,' when I say 'people are afraid of the truth,'that's one example right there in front of you. "People come to me and congratulate me on those two nominations. F***k those nominations!"
On success: "My girl set me up with a meeting with Deepak Chopra. I said 'Babe, you know what calms me down the most? Success. You can't meditate me out of my ideas. You can't sedate me. What calms me down is success."
On Kim Kardashian: "She was in a powerful enough situation where she could love me without asking for money, which is really hard for me to find. She gave me everything. She gave me a family. She gave me baa support system...For her to take that risk in front of the world, it just shows you how much she loves me...Our love story is like a love story for the ages. I feel like when we first got together it was like a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing, where it's like she's a reality star and I'm a rapper and people talk about how our brands connect and what doesn't fit. I'm just so tired of the conversation of brands...At a certain point, or always, love is more important than any branding, or any set of cool people, or attempting to impress anyone, because true love is just the way you feel...It's kind of funny when people say, 'That was kind of weird, y'all as a couple.' OK, ladies and gentlemen, all barbershops, fashion designers, architects, corner stores, Wall Street, all over the world -- Y'all acting like this ain't the most beautiful woman of all time. I'm talking about, like, arguably, of human existence, the Top 10 of human existence. I don't (care) what type of jacket she got on."
[b]On being a father:[/b] "Just being super-focused, even more determined to get these ideas across and establish the exact foundation I want for my family...I'm not as concerned about the idea of profanity or nudity, it's more the messaging behind it. (North's) gonna be in the real world and she's gonna hear things and see things. I think she's gonna be prepared for them."
On money: "I've gotta get my money up to another level 'cause it ain't on Jay Z level, it ain't on Diddy level yet. I'm talking about economic empowerment, because the economics give you choices, the choices can help give you joy and freedom. And I'm trying to find that joy."
On Barack Obama: "The reason Obama mentioned our name is cause we're most relevant...Obama was supposed to be the coolest person on the planet. Now he's gotta say our names in order to be cool....The president likes to use that type of thing just to be down. People was fine with me being everybody's punching bag for about five years and stuff. Like, 'Man, this is a person we love to hate.' ")
[b]On race and success:[/b] "There's also reasons why I'm here -- because I'm black. They need a token. But since I'm the token, I'm gonna spend my token and take the train all the way home."
On rap: "Rap is the new rock 'n' roll. We the rock stars...and I'm the biggest of all of them."
On working with Jay Z: "When I was doing 'Watch The Throne,' one of the main reasons I did it was to learn Jay's techniques of how he talks to people. Man, I be talking to people the wrong way sometimes. I be rubbing them the wrong way. Jay Z knows how to move in a room full of vultures. And as his little brother, I needed to learn that technique...Jay Z is more realized than me. More of his dreams and aspirations have come true...We're constantly working, I mean we haven't made any songs for (another 'Watch The Throne') yet. We going to see what's going to happen"
On Nelson Mandela: "Despite recent media reports, I've never said anything to dishonor or trivialize the life or transition of one of the most inspiring leaders. I'd like to address the false stories and noise that have been engineered by the media... At a young age my mother taught me the importance of his work. Mandela sacrificed his life for the betterment of mankind. Thank you, Mandela, for your life's work and may it serve as a guiding light to illuminate our future."
On fashion: "I'm going to be the first straight, hip-hop, loud celebrity, non-etiquette having, black out all the time, fresh-ass, super-talented designer of all time. I'm going to be the Tupac of clothing...While I was out in Paris, I wanted to meet with the head of Louie Vuitton. He said, 'I don't understand why I would need to meet with you.' I said, 'Let me explain to you why you need to meet with me.' Or the head of Gucci, I said, 'Let me explain why you need to meet with me. Everybody in New York City right now, don't buy Louie Vuitton until after January. Now, do you wanna meet with me?' Influence. They think that I don't realize my power."
On footwear and switching from Nike to Adidas: "(Nike) let me design two shoes over five years, and I'm happy that I could design 'em but they ain't do me no favor 'cause Eminem designed a shoe and Pharrell designed a shoe. You ain't never felt about a shoe the way people feel about the Jordans since the Yeezys. I put that feeling there. I said, 'I need some royalties. It's not even like I have a joint venture. At least give me some royalties.' Michael Jordan has five percent. That business is $2 billion. He makes $100 million dollars a year off of five percent royalties. Nike told me, 'We can't give you royalties because you're not a professional athlete.' I told them, 'I go to the (Madison Square) Garden and play one-on no-one. I'm a performance athlete...The new me, with a daughter, takes the Adidas deal because I have royalties and I have to provide for my family."
On obstacles: "You start just doing more research and say, 'Hey, I want to be part of the creative conversation and be able to make money off of that also,' and they stop you right there and say, 'You can't be a part of that conversation,' or they give you a one-off, like, (for) Louis Vuitton I did one shoe and Nike I did two shoes where they spread 'em apart over four years and they had like, the most impact possible. And I kind of saw that side of what it was as a creative to be free, as the parallel of the main character in '12 Years A Slave.' And then when it was taken away from me it felt like what it felt like as a creative to be enslaved."
On the dangers of his current live show: "That mountain (stage set) goes really, really high, and if I slipped, you never know. And I think about it and I think about my family and I'm like, 'This is like being a police officer or something, or war.' You're literally going out to do your job everyday knowing that something could happen."
[b]On his next album:[/b] "I haven't named my next album, but I have started on it. I always write down philosophies all the time, so I'll just have some thoughts and every time I think of it I write, and I'm just collecting beats, I'm just constantly working. I'd like to put out more product, I'd like have another album out by next summer."
On another compilation from his G.O.O.D. Music label: "I go back and forth on it, but we keep missing the winter. We're thinking about dropping a 'Cruel Winter'album, and I'd like to put out more product. I'd like to put an album out by next summer. I might go into the studio as soon as we leave here. I got this remix that I did with Miley Cyrus....I'ma tell you something about G.O.O.D. Music. Everybody who makes good music [is] on G.O.O.D Music. Drake [is] on G.O.O.D. Music. Ross on G.O.O.D. Music. If you make good music, you on G.O.O.D. Music."
On goals: "All I want to do is do good. How have I ever actually done bad? How have I ever actually talked down to someone? All I ever want to do is influence and do good, and I want to be recognized in this lifetime...I am so frustrated. I've got so much I want to give, and I've got a million people telling me why I can't do it...I think I do myself a disservice by comparing myself to Steve Jobs and Walt Disney and human beings that we've seen before. it should be more like Willy Wonka -- and welcome to my chocolate factory!"
Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $39.50-$89.50. Tickets from the rescheduled Nov. 10 show will be honored. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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