Kanye West’s ‘New York Times’ Interview: Our Favorite Fashion Quotes

Kanye West’s “New York Times” portrait.
Photo: Nick Knight/New York Times

If you haven’t already read Jon Caramanica’s interview with the (typically) press-elusive Kanye West for the New York Times, go ahead and put this post on pause, open this link in a new tab, and get caught up. Ye and Jon conduct the several-hour-long conversation over the course of three days, discussing West’s upcoming sixth solo studio album Yeezus and its position in relation to the rest of West’s musical annals. The discourse is candid, unapologetic, and a kind of dream interview for any card-carrying Kanye fan as Yeezy drops bombs like, “Dark Fantasy was my long, backhanded apology,” (I’m sorry, WHAT? Are we to infer that his most critically acclaimed release wasn’t even that true to himself??) and “Yeah, people asked me to change my name for [808s & Heartbreak].” *jaw drops and tongue rolls out of mouth like a Persian rug with cherub imagery*

The interview is a hotbed of quotables like, “Beauty, truth, awesomeness,” and “I am the nucleus,” and dubbing himself, “the Michael Jordan of music,” each of which make us miss more and more when Ye had a blog and was regularly active on Twitter, but it’s the moments when he weaves fashion into their discussion of his music evolution that we’re going MOST bananas over (naturally). Check out our favorites below, and be sure to read the interview in its entirety on NYTimes.com because wowowowow it’s GOOD.

On compromising for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:
It’s always going to be 80 percent, at least, what I want to give, and 20 percent fulfilling a perception. If you walk into an old man’s house, they’re not giving nothing. They’re at 100 percent exactly what they want to do. I would hear stories about Steve Jobs and feel like he was at 100 percent exactly what he wanted to do, but I’m sure even a Steve Jobs has compromised. Even a Rick Owens has compromised. You know, even a Kanye West has compromised.

On being influenced by Dead Prez:
Yeah, that’s how I discovered my style. I was just hanging out with them all the time in New York. I would produce for them. You know, I was able to slip past everything with a pink polo, but I am Dead Prez. And now, because I was able to slip past, I have a responsibility at all times.

On the Hurricane Katrina telethon:
Yeah, it was pretty bugged out. When you think about it, I was wearing like, a Juicy Couture men’s polo shirt. We weren’t there, like, ready for war.

On implementing Jay-Z as a kind of buffer for himself on Watch The Throne:
I needed to connect with Jay. … Yeah, even with the kilt on.

On sorting Kim Kardashian’s closet on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”:
That was from a place of love. It’s hard when people read things in a lot of different ways. You know, the amount of backlash I got from it is when I decided to not be on the show anymore. And it’s not that I have an issue with the show; I just have an issue with the amount of backlash that I get. Because I just see like, an amazing person that I’m in love with that I want to help.

On the catalyst for his move away from opulent sound and complicated raps:
You know, this one Corbusier lamp was like, my greatest inspiration.

On his quest for minimalism:
I’m just trying to cut away all the — you know, it’s even like what we talk about with clothing and fashion, that sometimes all that gets in the way. You even see the way I dress now is so super straight.
Does it take you less time to get dressed now than it did five years ago?
Hell, yeah.
You look at your outfits from five or seven years ago, and it’s like —
Yeah, kill self. That’s all I have to say. Kill self.

On taking his projects seriously:
I sat down with a clothing guy that I won’t mention, but hopefully if he reads this article, he knows it’s him and knows that out of respect, I didn’t mention his name: this guy, he questioned me before I left his office:, “If you’ve done this, this, and this, why haven’t you gone further in fashion?” And I say, “I’m learning.” But ultimately, this guy that was talking to me doesn’t make Christmas presents, meaning that nobody was asking for his [stuff] as a Christmas present. If you don’t make Christmas presents, meaning making something that’s so emotionally connected to people, don’t talk to me.

On his status as an influencer of culture:
I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. … I’ve been connected to the most culturally important albums of the past four years, the most influential artists of the past ten years. You have like, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, Nicolas Ghesquière, Anna Wintour, David Stern.

{via New York Times}

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