Kanye West and novelist/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis first teamed up on an “American Pyscho”-themed spoof for Ye’s Yeezus track, “New Slaves” — now, the duo is back, this time chatting about Steve McQueen-directed drama “12 Years A Slave.” A favorite film of Kanye’s, the rapper also sees several parallels between himself and McQueen, as well as lead character Solomon Northup.
“For me, I felt like the main character in what I’m dealing with even as a mega popular rich celebrity, ‘F— you, who do you think you are to complain about anything?’ situation that I’m in,” West said, comparing his plight as a rapper-come-fashion-designer to that of Northup, a free black man who is abducted and sold into slavery. The statement was a part of a conversation with Ellis in the writer’s new podcast, the first episode of which debuted today.
Premiere episode of The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast debuts today: a conversation about movies with guest Kanye West. http://t.co/7zwklprs7c
— Bret Easton Ellis (@BretEastonEllis) November 18, 2013
West elaborated on the comparison, explaining that even though companies are more than game to let him and other rappers promote their products, they often reign him in when he tries to cross over into the creative realm.
“I kind of saw that side of what it was as a creative to be free, as the parallel of the main character in ’12 Years A Slave,’” he said, “and then, when it was taken away from me, it felt like what it felt like as a creative to be enslaved.”
Still, Kanye does manage to work in multiple worlds, fashion and film included, a quality he said he shares with McQueen, who is also a visual artist. “To be able to tread those two worlds, I really admire that and I think that that’s what the modern artist is about and having multiple talents and expressing all those talents, especially in a world where you just get boxed into something,” he said.
“If I were to write my title, like going through the airport when you have to put down what you do, I would literally write ‘creative genius,’” he added, “except for two reasons: sometimes it takes too long to write that, and sometimes I spell the word ‘genius’ wrong.”
Although Ellis and Kanye spoke about other favorite films — and what it is to watch a movie in today’s screen-laden age — the conversation kept coming back to “12 Years a Slave” and its parallels to Kanye and his work.
While Ellis found the film a bit old hat — yet another movie about the injustices of slavery designed to win awards — Kanye had other ideas. “[McQueen] sat everyone down and was like, ‘Watch this.’ I definitely wasn’t on my phone, I was focused,” he said. “And I think that it’s like the Yeezus album…. It’s like, I know how to make enjoyable work, but I wanted to sit people down for a second and differentiate what this was and what was happening sonically and who I was as a creator to anyone else in the genre currently working in music — and everyone in music knows that.”
Ellis, however, opined that Yeezus was more original than the McQueen film, a claim that Kanye met with the rather humble statement: “I don’t think that my skill set is high enough to sonically create something that would be on the textbook level of ’12 Years A Slave.’ I don’t know how to play the piano — meaning like I would have to be like a musicologist, I’d have to [have a] really high skill set.”
Monday’s (October 18) podcast isn’t the end of Ellis and Kanye’s banter — this is just part one of the interview, the rest of which will be coming soon. The duo is also slated to work together in the future. In a previous interview, Ellis told MTV News: “And then Kanye and I have been meeting about writing a script for him and so that’s a project that’s kind of in the works.”