Kanye West was quite displeased last month when Jimmy Kimmel spoofed an interview he did with the BBC. He made sure the world knew how pissed he was about the sketch — which featured kids reenacting several moment’s from West’s BBC spot — with an angry series of tweets that, among other things, labeled Kimmel a “manipulative media motherfucker” and joked that the host had sex with Ben Affleck (no disrespect to Affleck intended).
Kimmel addressed the rant that night on his show, and then went to work to get Kanye to visit and discuss their issues face-to-face.
What resulted was, more or less, a big therapy session, with each man explaining his behavior. Kimmel gave Kanye an apology of sorts, telling him that he meant no harm by the video and actually thinks Yeezy is a pretty cool guy who gets a bad rap. Kanye, on the other hand, said his ego flared up, that he’s a creative genius, and that it’s tough to be taken seriously as a celebrity.
And then, he uncorked what must be one of the greatest and most serious treatises on American media and pop culture in television history. You can watch it above and read the whole thing below.
What I was trying to express in the interview was me, I know I’m a hip-hop and I’m a rapper and everything but I’ve got ideas that can mean something if I can put the proper production around them. So if I do a Nike Yeezy or Louis Vuitton shoot, the production around it was at the same level as the production on my CD, so if me and Rick Rubin and Mike Dean or whoever are working together. But if I go out and make my own T-shirt or something and call it ‘Kanye,’ everyone’s gonna think about when I just called myself a creative genius and say what’s so genius about this? but when people line up for the Yeezy, they say, ‘Oh wow this is really genius.’ You need that production. But currently in fashion, there’s no black guy at the end of the runway in Paris, in all honesty, and that’s what I was talking about when The Truman Show hit the boat.
But Michael Jackson had to fight to get his videos on MTV because he was considered to be urban. So for me, think about this — when I’m in Paris and I’m sitting in fashion week for nine years and South Park makes fun of our outfits or people don’t understand why I’m there and I’m getting called names, stuff you can’t even say on TV, and I still can’t break that wall down, at a certain point it’s like Michael Jackson trying to get his videos on. Who do you know who’s known more for clothes than me? And to not be able to do and produce at the highest level? And to have a meeting with everyone… And everyone just kind of looks at you like you’re crazy and you don’t crash the internet, and you’re just like, How can you get a shot?
And then you try to do it on your own and no real designers will work for a rapper, and you cannot overcome it. My grandfather drove the first cars in the marches just to get clean water, and one of the parallels I want to do for you is Richard Pryor always just wanted a clean plate, he just wanted to serve his stuff up on a clean plate. So if I do an interview in W Magazine and they take all these classist shots at me — because it’s not about racism anymore, it’s classist, like Paula Deen, she was old school, we don’t do it like that anymore, we’re classist. So the classism is what they try to do is to say, ‘You’re a rapper or your girl’s on a reality show so you’re not up here with us, we’re old money.’ I’m not into all that snobbery, because we have the loudest voice, we have the loudest communication, and all we want to do is make awesome stuff. All we want is a real shot. Not, I’m a celebrity so that means my line needs to cost $10 a T-shirt, I understand about quality, I understand fabrics, I spent 10,000 hours about this, I dedicated my life to this.
Then a lot of people say you have to do music. I’ll keep doing music, but what if people told me I couldn’t rap, what if people told me I couldn’t perform? I’m only 36 years old, I have other goals and other things, and I’m going to use my platform, every platform, to stand up and say I want to make something, I want to make the next Ralph Lauren…
People don’t stand up and protect their dreams, people are too scared of getting spoofed in a way. The irony of it is, think of a creative person at school, when you picture them you’re picturing someone all the way back of class, sketching and maybe getting beat up. And this is the reason why I did this, because creatives got beat up my entire life, and there was moments I stood up to drug dealers in Chicago, I said you can’t have my publishing, come and kill me, do what you’re gonna do but you’re not gonna bully me, you’re not gonna stop me, because my mother made me believe in myself… No matter how many people tell me, ‘Stop believing in yourself, stop saying what you can do, stop affirming what you can do and completing that in real life.’
That’s the improper way to do it. I refuse to follow those rules that society has set up and the way they control people with low self-esteem, with improper information, with branding, with marketing. I refuse to follow those rules. It’s about truth, it’s about information, it’s about awesomeness, and the only luxury is time, the time you spend with your family. The concept of luxury is foreign to me. With Nike, with Apple? Did you know there were phones that cost $4,000? There are people who spend $5,000 on this bag, $10,000 on this, to say what I said before, to say, ‘We’re better than you.’ I mean, taste, culture, art, just the quality of life, this is what I’m here to do. So when I compare myself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, David Stern, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Jesus, whoever it is, I say these are my heroes, these are people that I look up to, this is the type of impact I want to make on the Earth.
If I can make this type of impact up to this point, what can I do if you call Bob Iger and say, ‘Yo, give him a shot,’ if you call Oprah and say, ‘Yo, back this kid.’ His parents were educators, he wants to educate, he wants to look at curriculums and say, ‘How do we simplify that?’ Exactly what we did in music, I want to apply to product, I want to apply to education. This is what my company DONDA is all about. I could rap all I want, but without that Roc-A-Fella chain and Dame giving me that chain and without a record deal, I don’t care how many records I sell or whatever, I couldn’t have made it to the point to write “Jesus Walks.”
And now as a celebrity, I’ve reached a ceiling. And the way paparazzi talk to me and my family is disrespectful also. We bring something of joy to the family. When people hear my music, they have a good time and I should be respected as such when I walk down the street. Don’t ask me a question about something you read in the tabloids, don’t antagonize me, because it’s not safe for you in the zoo. Don’t think that I’m not from Chicago for one second and think you can walk up and disrespect me and my family constantly. People say, ‘Well, you signed up to be a celebrity, blah blah blah,’ and I understand you gotta get your money, it’s hard out here, but let’s have respect for each other. You do help me get money, paparazzi, you show people how fresh my outfit is.