Sway: What role did your mother play in your life? You have a song dedicated to her on the album called "Hey Mama."
West: After my parents got divorced and we moved to Chicago when I was 3, I would go see my father on Christmas, spring break and summer. My father was my everything, but during the rest of the time, my mother was my everything. Of course there's a good side to that, but the bad side of that is that people call you a mama's boy. It gets to the point that when you go to high school and you wasn't out in the streets like that, and you ain't have no father figure, or you wasn't around your father all the time, who you gonna act like? You gonna act like your mother. ... And then everybody in high school be like, "Yo, you actin' like a f--. Dog, you gay?" And I used to deal with that when I was in high school.
And what happened was it made me kind of homophobic, 'cause I would go back and question myself, like, "Damn, why does everyone else walk like this, and I walk like this?" People be like, "Yo fam, look at you. Look at how you act." If you see something and you don't want to be that because there's such a negative connotation toward it, you try to separate yourself from it so much that it made me homophobic by the time I was through high school. Anybody that was gay I was like, "Yo, get away from me." And like Tupac said, "Started hangin' with the thugs," and you look up and all my friends were really thugged out. It's like I was racing to try to find that constant masculine role model right there, right in front of me. I would use the word "f--" and always look down upon gays. But then my cousin told me that another one of my cousins was gay, and I loved him, he's one of my favorite cousins. And at that point it was kind of like a turning point when I was like, "Yo, this my cousin, I love him and I been discriminating against gays."
But everybody in hip-hop discriminates against gay people. Matter of fact, the exact opposite word of "hip-hop," I think, is "gay." Like yo, you play a record and if it's wack, "That's gay, dog!" And I wanna just come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, "Yo, stop it fam."
Sway: So Kanye, the VMAs are coming up. We know your history with awards shows. If you don't win one this year, will you be upset?
West: If I ain't win, I can't say I wouldn't be disappointed. I definitely wouldn't spaz out and go up there. I did that. I'm supposed to do that every time? I gotta switch the game up.
Sway: What was it like for you when you performed "Jesus Walks" at last year's show?
West: You know what, just to have Syleena Johnson up there [was great]. 'Cause it was a whole thing where they said, "Yo, Lauryn Hill might be able to perform 'All Falls Down' with you." And that's one of those things that you say, "Damn, I could perform with Lauryn on the VMAs." That would be incredible, but I had already got Syleena Johnson her ticket to come out. And I could've gone to Syleena and been like, "Yo, Lauryn is gonna perform." But on the song I said, "Just like a safety belt, you saved my life." Do you think that I'd turn around and tell Syleena she not gonna perform?
Sway: What about Lauryn Hill, because I know she's working on a new album and it was rumored that you guys did a couple of songs together.
West: Sony wanted to put me with her, but I was working on my album, working on Common's album at the time, so I didn't have time to really focus in. And they gave me one opportunity to do a demo track for her, or do one of her tracks but pre-produce it. And I went in, and let's just say it wasn't my best work. I can't say I got kicked off the project, 'cause I was never truly on it. I love Lauryn, I love the music she's done for us until this point. But I always wanted to say this: I've never actually met or spoken to Lauryn.
Sway: So you've never actually met Lauryn Hill?
West: Met or spoken to her. That's such a sound bite right there.
Sway: It was also rumored that you might be working with Beyoncé, too.
West: Yeah, I'm sure we'll do something together. 'Cause I'm mad, mad cool with her boyfriend.