Kanye West pivots from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders in two-hour Charlamagne interview

West suggested it was Trump's campaign he admired, not his time in office

Christopher Hooton
Tuesday 01 May 2018 22:02 BST
Kanye admits that he was 'hurt' that Jay Z and Beyonce didn't come to his wedding

Thus far, Kanye West has discussed his support for Donald Trump in relative short mediums: tweets, on-stage 'rants' and a semi-freestyle track with T.I.

Today, however, during a verbally prolific week, he explained his new era of thought in a one-hour-and-45-minute-interview with radio host Charlamagne Tha God.

Though at ease with the presenter, a friend of his, Kanye is also visibly uncomfortable during sections of the interview, at times unable to answer questions about Trump and the specifics of his admiration for him, instead going off on somewhat tangential analogies about Nike and his work in fashion.

The video ends with the pair walking his new 300 acres of land, where Kanye all but confesses that it was only the unique, unprecedented and paradigm-shifting nature of Trump's campaign that he liked, suggesting that if he does run for president it will more likely be with "Bernie Sanders principles".

West has also professed that his endorsement of Trump is about reaching across the aisle and showing love to those who disagree.

Charlamagne hit him with some tough, direct, smart questions across almost two hours, which also touching on other moments of controversy in his career.

Some quotes that stood out follow (Charlamagne questions/prompts in italics, Kanye responses in regular).

On his breakdown, or, as he calls it, his "breakthrough:"

What do you think caused the mental breakdown?

Fear. Stress. Control. Manipulation. Being a pawn in the chess game of life. Stressors that created a need for validation that I didn't need to be worrying about as much. Competition, being in competition with so many elements at one time [...] The race for popularity on the radio. Khaled got his song, Drake got his song playing to death, Saint Pablo ain't playing. I could take the whole interview talking about this. [...] The radio element was just one of the factors. the situation with my wife in Paris [was another].

On his return to health:

There was elements about going to the hospital and having a breakdown or a breakthrough that was fire, it was incredible, the feeling.

On Jay Z's 4:44 line about giving Kanye $20 million:

That concept, that he gave me the money, that's what frustrated me, because actually the money he got from Live Nation. It was a touring deal, but the fact that it was worded that it came from him - I'm a very loyal, emotional person - that made me feel like I owed more than just the money itself, the fact that it came from him.

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Where are you and jay at now?

We good. We texting each other, it's positive energy.

Have y'all seen each other?

I haven't seen him, but I can feel him.

Sometimes when you have such similar personalities and people are creating their own existence their own world, they need to do it on their own.

On his Pablo tour rants:

I think to do the rants was brave. I think we're at a place now where bravery is more important than perfection. Feeling is more important than thought [...] I think the rants came from a place of bravery and I'd had enough of the politics you know, and that's the world we're in now, people are speaking their truth, expressing themselves, and I've been waiting for this, I've been waiting for this moment. Coz it's always been such a political society and mentality of like you know don't do this, don't say that - trying to please people.

On slavery imagery:

We definitely are dealing with racism but I wanna push future concepts. That was the moment I wanted to use Bitcoin, when I saw Harriet Tubman on a 20 dollar bill. It's like when you see all the slave movies, it's like why you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? why don't you put Michael Jordan on a 20 dollar bill?

But Harriet Tubman was a slave that rebelled, though. Her and Nat Turner were on a different frequency.

I know this is gonna cause an uproar but certain icons are just too far in the past, they're not relatable, and that's what makes them safe. Like they'll let you go on the Grammys and talk about slavery and racism and all that because it's not talking about buying stock, it's not talking about buying property. It's not talking about economic empowerment.

On his Trump meeting:

People were like, 'My Ye, 'George Bush don't care about black people' Ye, cannot in any way - this dude has to diss trump at all times, at all costs, and there was some dynamics to this, so many people around me said don't express your feelings. Why? Your brand, your this, your that...

You said you would have voted for him.

The first thing people say is racism - 'well what makes George Bush any more racist than Trump?' is the question my friend asked me. My response is, 'Well, racism isn't the deal-breaker for me.' If that was the case I wouldn't live in America.

That's some rich n***a talk.

Oh no, as a rich n***a I deal with racism, best believe in this gated community I do. So, I got love for Obama, I got love for every human being that ever existed, but I felt like Obama was perfect, he was almost like Nike. When I was at Nike, [it was all about being] planned out and strategised. If you have a rogue character like me that comes in and says we need to do this for Chicago, you're gonna take it with a grain of salt, you're gonna be cordial, but you're like not really gonna change anything. When I was at Nike they weren't willing to change anything.

When my karma comes [for the Trump stuff] I'll accept it in real time.

On his frustration with Obama:

See, Obama came to me before he ran for office and he met with me and my mother to let me know that he was going to run for office, because I am his favourite artist of all time. Because I am the greatest artist of all time, it makes sense, he got good taste! [...] So Obama, he's like 'Ye you're my favourite artist, I want your support, I'm running for office.' I'm like 'Oh this is dope, we get a black president, this dude is mad cool, he's from Chicago, then I went on stage and it would have been good if this video didn't get out, you saw it...

Where he called you a jackass.

Yeah, you know he never called me to apologise, the same person that sat down with me and my mom I think should have communicated to me directly and been like, 'Yo, Ye you know what it is, it's just a joke.'

Nobody's perfect, I love Obama, I'm sure we'll hang out [...] I felt a way a little bit about Obama - that I'm your favourite artist, you played 'Touch the Sky' at your inauguration and now all of a sudden Kendrick and Jay and all the people you invite to the White House, now these your favourite rappers, and I ain't got no problem with those rappers but you know I'm your favourite, but I'm not safe, but that's why you love me, so just tell me and the world you love me, don't tell the world I'm a jackass.

On his mindset when meeting Trump:

I'm not gonna back down from that and let myself off easy by saying 'I met with Trump just because I was going through something', nah, I'ma face it, and they gon' face me. This was the Ye that wanted to do something to change something. And I would meet with him today and -

Do you think he cares about black people?

[After evading the question] Before we can plant the trees and add the beauty, we gotta break some things. If you keep on getting just the beauty, just the perfect thing, just Obama walking through the hallway - his feet don't even touch the floor, he's just floating - you get all of these images. This is what is, this is what I wanted to talk about, the idea of black perfection, like a black person can't be imperfect in the public eye. That's a form of control. I'm here to show you imperfection. The beauty is in the imperfection.

But they said about Barack he had to be perfect or we'd never get another one [black president].

On Trump/shifting discourse:

I love real change, I love challenging the norm. I love people who don't love him, I love the fact that everybody's speaking up and expressing themselves.

[Trump is] deporting people and trying to marginalise people who look like you, can you still love a person like that?

[Long pause]

I don't have all the answers that a celebrity's supposed to have, but I can tell you that when he was running it was like I felt something, the fact that he won, it proves something, it proves that anything is possible in America. I'm not talking about what he's done since he's been in office, but the fact that he was able to do it. When I say I was running for president I had friends making jokes and memes, but now it's like 'Oh that was proven that that could have happened.' I felt the non-conventional even from what we doing in fashion, to me being the kid with pink polos, to me being outspoken, to me being ostracised because of the Taylor Swift thing or the George Bush thing, or who I'm dating who I'm marrying, what I'm talking about - all of this is like an outsider thing, so when I see an outsider infiltrate I connect with that.

So maybe that's what you like the idea of, not necessarily of Donald Trump but the idea of an outsider infiltrating.

Yeah, I liked that it showed you that anything is possible.

I'm a non-conformist, but I'm also I'm a producer I like to segue things, I like to take 'Otis', chop it up. So what's the Ye version [of a presidency], the Ye version would be the trump campaign and maybe the Bernie Sanders principles, that would be my mix and stuff - I think both are needed.

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