BURBANK, California — After loudly declaring early last week that he deserved the Album of the Year Grammy, Kanye West found himself backtracking a few steps on Thursday when the nominees were actually announced.
"I actually haven't listened to Paul McCartney's album, I won't lie to you about that, but I will check it out because I'm not gonna go and say that I should win and I haven't listened to Paul McCartney's album," said West, who believes his Late Registration definitely trumps the other nominees, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby and U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. "I'm gonna go check it out, I'm gonna make sure I feel like I should win."
In the meantime, Kanye isn't exactly halting his campaign. This is Kanye West after all, and humble he is not (see "Kanye's At It Again: 'If I Don't Win Album Of The Year I'm Gonna Have A Problem' ").
"[Late Registration] is really important not just because it was successful this year, but 10 years from now they'll look back at what it did for the game," West said. "The usage of strings, all types of instrumentation, the musicality of it, the fact that we sat and waited two weeks to rent a real harpsichord to put on 'Diamonds' — that's one instrument! Now let's take all the songs that were on there and add up the amount of work that went into it; this is the real thing. ... We put so much pain, blood, sweat, tears, time and money into it, so for it to be nominated is great, but for it to win would be the seal of the work. It really needs that. It would be the first album in Grammy history that was all rap that won for Album of the Year."
Believe it or not, however, West claims to be more proud not of his own eight nominations, but the 12 split between two artists signed to his G.O.O.D. Music label, John Legend and Common (see "Mariah Carey, Kanye West, John Legend Lead Grammy Nominees").
"For this to be John Legend's first time and him to be tied with the most for this year's nominations is just incredible," West said. "Of course I do get a lot of benefits from it, but as a label head, as a friend, as a fan of music, I wanted John Legend to come out because I knew he would help the world with his music, and in return it helped him also. So to see his family, to see the fans react to John Legend, because it's not just about us, the Grammys are about the fans hearing John Legend got these nominations. 'Oh, he's my favorite,' and the way they feel today."
The success of Legend and Common has inspired West to dedicate next year to G.O.O.D. Music.
"I'm just completely going into the lab and I'm trying to make history again. Let me restate that: We will make history again," West said. "We've got Consequence, which is real hip-hop, he was on 'Gone,' he's the essence of it. His voice is incredible, he's got one of those voices where I feel like I would be further along in my career if I had that. GLC, who rapped on 'Drive Slow,' he's out of Chicago, he's on 'Spaceships' also, and actually me and Three 6 Mafia are gonna produce his whole album, so it's about to be crazy. I got Really Doe, who's on 'We Major' ... he's gonna be a problem."
The 48th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees
West's still working out the timeline for the releases, but the first could be from Sa-Ra, a trio of Los Angeles producers who mix hip-hop with funk, neo-soul and electronic music.
"Their music is really edgy, it's what I wanna do with G.O.O.D. Music, how I like to push the envelope, style, fashion, the visuals, the videos, the instrumentation," West said. "It's really sexy and not to just use a cliché word, but it's that sh--, it's that '80s type feel."
As for West's own music, he's releasing the long-awaited Michel Gondry-directed video for "Heard 'Em Say" this week and he's tossing around video concepts for his next single, "Touch the Sky."
"I'm gonna keep on trying to push the bar," the rapper said. "I'm my own toughest critic, and I just wanna keep on bringing good entertainment to y'all. And at the end of the day that's what it's about: songs that are entertaining, interviews that stick with you and a nice outfit and that's it."
The show's over, but there's still plenty of Grammy goodness right here on MTVNews.com. Check out photos of the hottest green-carpet and onstage moments, find out what went down at the celeb-packed parties, and share your thoughts on the performers, winners and losers.