Love him or hate him, Kanye West has definitely made his mark on the world. He’s an award-winning rapper and producer with a coveted music collection, a fashion icon at the reins of the footwear and apparel brand Yeezy, and the husband of your favorite reality star and beauty mogul, Kim Kardashian. But if there’s anything the “Flashing Lights” rapper will be remembered for in this life, it’s the series of bizarre and controversial comments he’s made over the course of his career.
West has grabbed headlines time and time again for some seriously infamous statements, like when he lambasted former President George W. Bush over his alleged negligence in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. He’s also known to steal the spotlight from stars at award shows just to state his objections. And who could forget about all the times he’s lashed out on air? He is almost as famous for those as he is his music.
2 + 2 Does Not Equal 4
Kanye has said himself that interviewing isn’t one of his strong suits. Speaking to Surface magazine in 2016, the “Jesus Walks” rapper expressed that he’s just not fond of the logistics in the interview process, which is fine and all, but it was an awkward revelation that came right after he was asked a simple question about the vision of his multifarious company, Donda.
“I’m really bad with answering questions,” he told the outlet. “Usually, I don’t even answer them. I try to find inspiration inside of the question. I think, and I jump from one beam of inspiration or energy to the next, as opposed to explaining the energy.” But answering questions isn’t even the hardest part. He continued, “In general, the hard part about interviews, for me, is the idea of two plus two equals four. I always refuse to land at four. Landing at four is hella basic.”
You Ain’t Got the Answers
Yeezy is passionate about fashion, and sometimes that can make an interview go left. During a 2013 interview on SiriusXM’s Shade 45, West opened up about his attempts to break into the fashion world, venting about a lack of support and creative freedom from designers. He quickly took those frustrations out on radio host Sway Calloway. When Sway asked why West wouldn’t just skirt the industry and work independently, a (one-man) screaming match ensued. “You ain’t got the answers, Sway! You ain’t got the answers!” West barked. “I been doing this more than you!”
As the host tried to reason with West, comparing the rapper’s experiences with his own struggles in the fashion industry, West upped his attack, “It ain’t Ralph, though! … What’s the name of your clothing line? We don’t know.” West eventually apologized to Sway, but the chat remained a half-conversation, half-shouting match for a good chunk of the interview.
One week later, Sway addressed the now-infamous interview on a special edition of RapFix, making it clear that he “loves” West, and even referring to him as his “little brother.” Then Sway went even further, saying, “Everything that Kanye said, I think is true. In fact, I believe in everything that he’s trying to do and I think we all should listen to the message.” The host then revealed his own latest foray into fashion — a bit of revenge wear in the form of a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase, “I Got The Answers.” Well played.
West became a more visible component of his wife’s show in 2019 when he sat down for his first interview on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. While the “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” rapper had appeared on the show before, he’d never sat down for that key component of the series. So why the change of heart? It has to do with The Incredibles.
“This is my first time doing this. I’m not actually attempting to do good,” he said during the interview. “This interview is because of the movie The Incredibles. It starts off with the interviews. The superheroes are giving interviews.” So that’s one reason. The other deciding factor apparently stems from the similarities between his wife and Elastigirl. “The wife’s got a big butt,” he noted, adding, “And I just see our life becoming more and more and more like The Incredibles until we can finally fly.”
Let West tell it, he’s even got a bit of a superpower. “I have synesthesia. I see sound,” he told Surface magazine in 2016. “I think it’s my mutant handicap,” he added before drawing a comparison to X-Men. What would Kim’s superpower be?
Many of Yeezy’s songs have sparked controversy, like the 2013 song “I Am a God” from his sixth album Yeezus. Upon its release, many leveled criticism and accusations of blasphemy at the Graduation rapper (via NME), but West stood by the song. While speaking to Zane Lowe for an interview with BBC Radio 1, the rapper said in the most high-pitched voice imaginable that he indeed believes he’s a supreme being.
“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,” he said. “Would it have been better if I had a song that said, ‘I am a n***a,’ or 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?”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only outlandish and grandiose statement in the interview. He managed to squeeze in rants about everything from how he’s the biggest rockstar in the world, to how much of an inspiration he is, because he’s Kanye, and we wouldn’t expect any less.
Kanye Sees Into Your Soul
Kanye West refuses to yield to critics. He stuck it to the fashion naysayers in a big way in a 2016 interview with W magazine. In the middle of a long-winded rant about how disrespected and undervalued he is by the fashion industry, West said, “I refuse people who write me off as some rich kid taking a hobby, fashion as a f**king hobby or a fashion plate.” He then noted that he has a Ph.D., which is kind of true. According to The Guardian, he earned an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 2015. We just aren’t sure what that has to do with fashion.
Continuing on about the power of his degree, West added, “Me saying that makes the difference to the exact people I’m talking to it’s, like, shut the f**k up. I will f**king laser you with alien f**king eyes and explode your f**king head. Shut the f**k up – try to write a rap. Okay then. I made this f**king T-shirt, now shut up.”
As if the interview wasn’t already weird enough, West went on to make a case for how he’s like Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph. “So you know when Vanellope puts together her car? And she’s like, ‘Made it myself,’ and everybody that has professional cars, they say, ‘Look at you with your little car and you’re going to do this,’ and then they break her car, right? That’s basically the fashion world to me,” he said. Kanye has this all figured out, it seems.
Kanye the Nucleus
Kanye West has repeatedly said that the late Steve Jobs is an inspiration to him, but he took his fandom to a really bizarre level in a 2013 interview with The New York Times. Ahead of the release of his sixth album Yeezus, the rapper went off on a bold tangent about the Apple co-founder, saying that his name will have the same cultural impact of the former CEO. “I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means,” he said. Dubbing himself as the new and improved Jobs, West added, “I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump.”
The comparisons only got more grand from there. West compared himself to other icons like Walt Disney, Anna Wintour, and Howard Hughes in an attempt to make a case for his own greatness before adding, “I am the nucleus.”
Kanye is holding it all together, y’all.
Slavery Was a Choice
Following several weeks of strange behavior on Twitter that included proclamations of love for President Donald Trump, Kanye West waltzed into the TMZ offices on May 1, 2018 to share why he supports the controversial president. As a perhaps unintended result, he sparked perhaps his biggest controversy yet — not because of his love for Trump, but because of his comments about slavery, which he reduced to a “choice” for African Americans. “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he said, adding, “Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all!?” As West continued his impassioned remarks, it was like a record scratched for host Harvey Levin, who stood there looking startled.
As you can imagine, West was greeted with immediate and widespread criticism for the remarks, and ultimately apologized for the comment three months later in an interview with Chicago radio station 107.5 WGCI. “I’m sorry for people who felt let down by that moment,” he said during the broadcast. In his defense, West once said in an interview with W magazine that he’s not the best at communicating his thoughts. “I’ll say some super philosophical s**t, but I’ll say it the wrong way,” he explained, before elaborating in a way that completely proves that point: “I’ll use the wrong word, so it goes from being really special to completely retarded.”
Wrong words indeed.
Kanye Was Stressed and Medicated
No one can forget West’s public meltdown in 2016 when he ranted, raved, and barely performed on his “Saint Pablo” tour before being hospitalized? The “Stronger” rapper finally opened up about what contributed to his breakdown in a 2018 interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God, saying he had been under a lot of stress due to work, the robbery of his wife Kim Kardashian, and the blowback from arriving to a fashion show late. Makes sense, right? Well his comments on the latter got a bit weird.
“As soon as I was 45 minutes late, I felt it was the fashion community getting the right to say [the n-word] without saying it,” West explained. “To be like, ‘Yo, we know you come through stepping on necks and all that … but if you get out of line, boy, we’re going to roast you.’ And it affected me because I’m an artist and it affected me emotionally. It’s like all these things were like almost set up to put me on meds, to break me down.” Or, you know, he could just get there on time.
Rambling to the President
Kanye stepped into the Oval Office for what proved to be attention grabbing for all the wrong reasons. West’s October 2018 meeting with President Donald Trump can be described in one word: strange. According to Vox, the Yeezy designer traveled to the White House to discuss prison reform with the president. However, the meeting turned into a “rambling, 10-minute speech that touched on mental health, the importance of job growth, and Montessori curriculums, and referred to the 13th Amendment (the amendment abolishing slavery) as a ‘trap door.'” West packed on the awkwardness even more when he bragged about the apparent supernatural abilities afforded to him by his “Make America Great Again” hat, which was practically sliding off his head the entire meeting, saying it gives him “power.” He added, “When I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman.”
The speech was so intense that it seemed to leave the famously vocal president speechless. “That was quite something,” Trump said at the end of West’s speech. “It was from the soul. I just channeled it,” West replied. To leave Trump speechless is surely something.
Zuckerberg Says No
Kanye failed to impress Ellen. In 2016, Ellen DeGeneres questioned Kanye West on her self-titled show about his tweet asking Mark Zuckerberg to invest in his ideas, and he did not hold anything back. West admitted that he probably should have made the request on Facebook rather than Twitter, but then said he doesn’t second guess his tweets because “What’s the point in thinking?” Besides, he said, he and Zuckerberg had dinner on at least one occasion, so he was warranted in asking. When DeGeneres tried to weigh in, West interrupted, throwing his hands up and singing, “‘Ye is in the building! Throw your mother f**ing hands in the air right now!”
He then took over the conversation for just under six minutes after DeGeneres asked him for “one example” of his world-changing, revolutionary ideas. As West’s rant unfolded, the usually whip-quick DeGeneres basically sat and watched quietly. At times, she even appeared to be desperately gazing into the camera for help. West discussed everything from his upbringing to the importance of connecting with fans, reciting lyrics from various rappers, before circling back to his ideas. When he was (finally) finished, he said, “I’m sorry daytime television. I’m sorry for the realness.” Real is probably not the word we’d choose to describe this.