It’s been a week for hip-hop, to say the least. Thanks to the ensuing rap beef between Pusha-T and Drake, it’s somehow been easy to forget that there’s a new album from Kanye West. Well, ye is finally out, and now we’re starting to actually hear more about it from the artist himself.
Today, radio personality Big Boy shared his interview with West, which was recorded Thursday night during Yeezy’s impromptu listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Together, the two discuss everything from the rapper’s mental health to his obsession with the number 7 to the title itself.
Below is a complete breakdown followed by the video interview.
On the Listening Party
Kanye’s intention for the Wyoming event was to “bring people together” and to “keep spreading love.” He adds with a smile, “The music, and all these friends, we’ve been in this game together. We all played our position of music and messaging and it was good to see just so many people coming together and link in a place they wouldn’t usually be.”
On the Impetus of the Album
“I wanted something with the energy the universe was giving me,” West explains. “I wanted something that matched that energy.”
On the Significance of Seven
“That’s something that just hit me, that was just a gut feeling,” he says. “But then I read information about it afterwards, about the power of the number seven, and the completion, the god number.” He admits he knew about the history behind the number going into ye, which spans seven tracks, and adds, “I’ve always heard about sevens, I saw sevens, I went to Michael Jackson’s archive, and he had all these jackets that said, ‘seven, seven, seven,’ on them, so yeah, it just feels complete.”
On the Title of the Album
“I believe ‘ye’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible,” he explains, “and in the Bible it means ‘you,’ so I’m you, I’m us, it’s us. It went from Kanye, which means the only one, to being ye—just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything. The album is a more of a reflection of who we are.”
On Keeping His Voice
“I think it came from me just continually going against mass opinion, and I was able to find my voice — my voice — because, as you know, I started off with my voice. And this is what happens with a lot of artists: They start off with their voice and then they start having to do so many records for so many different people .. and is this person going to be happy and is that person going to be happy
…and I just had to stand in front of that board every morning and ask myself, ‘Do these songs truly make me happy? Are these songs I want to play back? Does the song make me cry? Does the song take me somewhere? I just think that when you start reaching your late 30s, there’s this whole movement like, ‘Nah, when you’re in your 30s, we don’t want to hear no music from you anymore.’ And I just got a place where it’s just art. Period.”
On Personal Kanye vs. Artist Kanye
West contends that dichotomy is what “brought me the energy,” which he extrapolates on, saying: “I was in the office, in Calabasas, and everything was nice and everything was all good, and then something turned, you know what I’m saying? And then I just started getting all this energy — and some people say it’s negative or positive; I don’t believe in negatives or positives, I believe in energy — and I started coming in and saying, ‘Oh, I know what to do with this. I’m taking all that in. Give me everything you got. I want all the smoke. I want everything you got. Bring it!’ I know what to do with the energy. My dad talked about a power vs. force … it’s almost like Tai Chi, you can take that, soak that in, wake up in the morning, take a walk for two hours, and do your art.”
On the TMZ Rant and Slavery Being a Choice
“I completely re-did the album after TMZ. We just sat there and really honed in on the words because now it’s all headlines, it’s like every bar can be used… you know, there’s even bars we had about that… I took a bar off the album. It was just too sensitive. It was about that topic. And I just let go. ‘I’m gonna just chill right now, let’s just keep making some music.’
You know, I feel like, as a son, and as a family member of the world … that’s the reason why the world won’t let me go because I’m just a family member. They might disagree with me, but I’m family. I’ve been here for 15 years, 18 years, and you know, I feel like the best thing I could do is sit there, and go in that studio, and keep chopping that thing that only I know how to do and only me and my crew know how to do.”
On Music as Therapy
“I’m so blessed and so privileged. Think about people that have mental issues that are not Kanye West, that can’t go and make that, and make it feel like it’s all good. Think about someone who does exactly what I did at TMZ and they just do that at work, right? But then Tuesday morning, they come in, and they lost their job … and they can’t go back and make that. That’s why god put that on me at age 40. I had never been diagnosed until … like … 39 years old. I think everybody’s got something. I think everybody got something, but like i said, on the album, I said, that it’s not a disability, that it’s a superpower.”