In the picture on the inside of his mixtape Get Well Soon ..., Kanye West does not look like a man who should be thankful. His face is swollen about three times its normal size, the aftermath of a car accident last month in Los Angeles.
If that's not enough, he says he was harassed by police and mistreated by EMS workers before even making it to the hospital. While laying up, MCs who've caught the vapors cried crocodile tears, acting like they were concerned when wishing him well, only to reveal that they were really after his acclaimed beats. ("People would say to me, 'Yo man, I'm sorry that happened. You can't die before we work together.' "). Still, the Chi-Town hitmaker says his accident was a blessing in disguise (see "Kanye West Injured In L.A. Accident").
"It opened up my eyes," Kanye explained. "I deal with a lot less sh-- now."
Talking on the phone Wednesday from his Cali hotel room, where he's been holed up making beats and writing rhymes, Kanye didn't sound very different than usual, despite the fact his broken jaw was wired.
"My jaw was broken in three places," he said. "I had nasal fractures — I'd be talking to people and my nose would start bleeding. Even to this day, I could start choking because spit will go down the wrong path. That whole area is messed up. But right now I'm healing, I'm just learning how to pronounce words like, 'What's up' with the 't' and the 's' together without it being slurred, so I can rap again.
"The accident was so painful," he added. "The first two or three days were like some of the worst pains in my life. I would not wish this on anybody, except maybe three people. I was scared, 'cause you hear about people dying in surgery and this [injury] is dealing with my breathing. I had so much blood coming out my mouth. Every 20 minutes I had to have one of them suction-type things. It would be so much mucus and blood."
After the wreck took place, he said the police and EMS workers added to his agony.
"I was completely in pain and completely racially profiled and harassed," remembered West, who, for legal reasons, could not disclose exactly how he crashed his Lexus. "They did three or four tests on me for alcohol. After the first test [it should be clear] that I'm not drinking alcohol."
A spokesperson for the LAPD says that it is a state requirement that police perform at least three sobriety tests for DUI suspects, providing that the driver is physically able to take the test.
"I was sitting in the car after the accident and they kept asking me questions," West continued. "I was just telling them 'I want to go to the hospital, I'm in so much pain right now. I'm gagging on blood right now.' I was just trying to breathe. Then they finally put one of them hard-ass neck braces on me and it hurt. Then they put me on the stretcher and it was on some 'Something About Mary' sh--, 'cause they dropped me and I hit my head and jaw."
A spokesperson for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said that although the ambulance drivers are employed by several different private companies and not the hospital, this was the first the rep has heard of any gripes with the emergency-service workers.
Kanye says his treatment wasn't any better once he got to the hospital. "They wired my jaw wrong so they have to break it again and put it in the right place." (The spokesperson for Cedars-Sinai was not at liberty to comment on patients' conditions.)
The multitasking rapper and producer did, however, show that he isn't just signed to the Roc, but is solid as rock. Two weeks after he was admitted to the hospital he was released, and he wasted no time before hitting the studio to record "Through the Wire," a song on his mixtape that samples Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" and deals with the troubles he faced when he was hurt. "The name of my album is called The College Dropout," he said of his debut. "All that's saying is make your own decisions. Don't let society tell you, 'This is what you have to do.' Society told me, 'Man, don't move from Chicago.' People told me to stay in school, this music is this, this music is that. I listen to John Mayer, and his song 'No Such Thing' is exactly what my [philosophy] is about, but in different words."
Besides Jay-Z, who appears on a song called "Never Let Me Down," Kanye says he already had other members of the Roc-A-Fella camp, in addition to Jamie Foxx and Twista, record tracks for the projects.
On the production side, which he calls his second love after rhyming, West has laid beats for upcoming projects by Twista, Beanie Sigel, Donell Jones, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Mystic, Dead Prez and Scarface.
"Hell, yeah," he exclaimed about working with Face. "We already started. We're two songs into it and it's headed towards a classic. Sh-- is remarkable. I'm out here in L.A. working on Ludacris. Ludacris is phenomenal to me. I love him as an artist and as a person, too. He has a really good vibe and spirit."
West's lighthearted vibe will be featured on yet another mixtape in the next few weeks, where, among other things, he'll freestyle over the beat which he made for Jay-Z's " '03 Bonnie & Clyde." The title of the tape? Fittingly, it's called Rehabilitation.