Kanye West stopped by On Air with Ryan Seacrest to talk about everything from what inspires him, why he feels that he’s being held back in life, and his engagement and upcoming marriage to Kim Kardashian.
The 36-year-old rapper and designer gushed over his fiancée, revealing that he’s wanted to marry her for quite some time. Kanye proposed to Kim a week ago on her birthday at AT&T Park in San Francisco in front of family and friends with a 15-carat diamond ring and admits he was actually nervous to pop the question.
Aside from asking for Kris Jenner’s permission, how did you keep it all a secret?
“I just didn’t tell anybody. Everybody that came in just thought it was a surprise party. So of course I didn’t tell her that anybody was coming in and she knew I was going to do something for her birthday, so as soon as she heard the Lana [Del Ray] song playing, she just figured I was going to have Lana sing and we were going to have dinner. Because at a certain point she just knows I’m going to do something turnt up, so she was expecting something awesome. The guy who organized it was talking about this romantic lighting and I was like, ‘Enough already! We’re at a baseball field. It has to be fully-lit!’ That was one of the things that was making me really mad. I was like, ‘Let me do it, like how I would do it.’”
Will you wear a wedding ring once you’re married?
Will Kim take your last name?
How involved will you be with the wedding planning?
“I will be very involved. Or I want to pick who is going to be in charge. I’d like to get the people who do the Chanel shows [for the wedding].”
How long does it take to conceive a show and perfect it?
“It takes a lifetime really because you pull from your gut. I coined this term ‘emotionalism’ and it’s if your about to die and your life flashed before your eyes, what would you see? And you pull from that. Create from that place. So if I was 3-years-old, I’d see a mountain. I’d see Jesus. I’d see a monster. I’d see these girls, like a cool super hero in a mask or something like that, and that’s what I’d want to do. Glow In The Dark [tour] was also just tapping into my childhood and just creating from that place, but the process of it [takes] like five months.”
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
“I’m not a perfectionist anymore because I’ve realized that it’s all practice. Could you say the Air Jordan 1′s were perfect? There was no way to make them perfect because there is nothing we can make in our lifetime perfect. God is the only [force] … that can make things perfect. As men, we can’t make things perfect … You’re in constant practice. So say like an album, like Yeezus, that’s like a listening session to the world like, ‘Hey, what do you guys think of this?’”
What do you make of people having different interpretations of your songs?
“People can take things how they want to, it’s just realizing you can’t control the way people take things … You’ve just got to express exactly what you want. I know that I have good intent. I have a high skill set and I just make it and if enough people like it for me to be successful at it.”
On why he has to turn things up because people don’t allow him to go to the next level:
“When you say stuff like, ‘I’m a creative genius,’ everyone looks at you like you’re crazy. So I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m about to turn up. I’m going to turn up on this engagement. I’m going to turn up on this show. I’m going to turn up on this merch we just did with this pop-up store on Melrose.’ I just had to turn up completely because I’ve been trying to create outside of the box of being a musician … and I’ve talked to people who would have the power to allow me to go to the next level and they just look at you like you’re crazy or they just try to put you in like a music box and at what point do you see something and say, ‘Yo, he really might be like Walt Disney. He really might be that creative and not just a rapper.’”
“Like I went anti-hit song on the … Yeezus album. I know how to write … hit songs, but I’m not interested in that particularly. I’m interested in design and helping the world. My company Donda is a product, content, and experience company. You go to my show and that’s an experience. A product could be the Nikes. You remember I was bringing in the Louis Vuittons, that was a one time thing. They never let me create again. And if you’re creative, to create is your oxygen. Beause people could look and say, ‘You’ve got a car. You’ve got this. You’ve got a family. You’ve got that.’ And yes, I feel very blessed to have a family and a career that affords me a nice lifestyle, but I have more to give to the world, meaning when I wanted to rap and no one wanted to sign me and I had ‘Jesus Walks,’ I had more to give to the world.”
“What if 2 Chainz did 116 and they said, ‘That was really dope, [but] no more.’ 2 Chainz did 100 verses in one year … but what if he’d been told one and that’s enough? … What if you’re Gaudí and you know you’re the best architect and everyone is saying that you’re saying you’re the best architect the wrong way. The problem isn’t whether or not you are the best – it’s the way you’re saying it. People get really hung up on the way I word things. But I am the best. That’s the bottom line.”
“So I had to turn it up to this level because they look at you like you’re crazy. Like when I [went] up onstage [during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards] and I do whatever. I’m looking like, ‘Am I the only one here that’s not crazy?’ There still hasn’t been a better video … than a Beyoncé video. And that’s what people hated me the most for. The perception — ‘This doesn’t look good. That doesn’t look good.’ — But I’m not here to try to be the most likeable guy on the planet. I’m here to make things easier for people with the creativity I have.”
Where does that drive and burning fire come from?
“God. God has blessed me and has given me a strength and he’s given me a focus — family -— and to spread the word. And that’s the way I want to create. I want to design churches. I want to use everything I did to design Watch the Throne to design new churches.”
Do you care it would be controversial?
“That’s not my concern. My concern is doing God’s work and he’ll work everything else out.”
Do you think you will pull back on certain lyrics and things because you’re a dad now?
“I haven’t been a dad before so I can answer that question better when I’m closer to that moment. I don’t strategize like that. There are so many moving pieces right now. It’s like when you had grandparents that weren’t ready for TV and now it’s like parents that aren’t ready for the internet. So if we are where we are at right now, where will we be four years from now? There wasn’t even Instagram two years ago, so I couldn’t really give you that answer because I don’t know exactly what other things or forces are going to be working at that time. They could have cursing at the schools at that time … you never know what it’s going to be!”
Of your projects, which has been your favorite?
“Maybe My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The way we made that. We stayed down in Hawaii and [everyone like Nicki Minaj, Elton John, and more] came down there and we just worked on it for a long, long time. And what it was, if we’re talking about being a perfectionist, I’m not here to really try to attempt to do perfect work, I’d rather challenge people with things that are imperfect … but because of the perception I was under after the Taylor Swift incident, the only way for me to somehow buy my affection of the public back, was to deliver an absolutely perfected product. So if you listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, that’s the closest thing to a perfected album. So it’s like, I know how to make perfection, I just don’t want to. I want to rip the jeans!”
Did you ever apologize to Taylor Swift?
“I talked to her right before she was going to do a song based on it [and] I tried to get her on the phone [right after] and they wouldn’t get her on the phone and we were trying to do all this Oprah stuff because it’s all this media blitz with the perception like, ‘Oh my god! Your career is over.’ … You know what? I would not want some crazy drunk rockstar cutting my daughter off also. But, my daughter would 100% also be like, ‘Yes, Beyoncé did have the best video.’ That’s what my daughter would do!”
You mentioned you have four or five main projects currently going on, so do you get bored easily?
“I get frustrated before I get bored.”
How do you work through the frustration?
“Just drink! I’m sure I’m not supposed to say that, but I drink Grey Goose. And I’m not getting paid anything from them, but I’m going to tell you as a man – and they said Shakespeare was like a drunk and yes, I said that to blatantly compare myself to Shakespeare – you know, I’m not perfect. And certain mornings or in the evening, and I’m not a falling over drunk, but I’ll pour a little Goose, grab some ice cubes, and just practice patience.”
On what frustrates him:
“People say, ‘Life isn’t fair. What are you complaining about?’ [But] it’s not fair that I dont have infrastructure for what I want to to do in clothing because I’m crazy influential. Meaning, like, there’s no way for it to not work. When we do t-shirts, we do $200,000 in five hours, it works, but it’s a wall … It’s the Michael Jackson glass ceiling when he couldn’t get his videos played because he was considered to be urban. Now for me, what I want to create isn’t about black and white, but the reason why I’m not able to create what I want to create is about being black and is about classism. And that’s that wall when I took [Kim] to the Met Ball and they put it up on Vogue.com and tried to say she wasn’t there because they didn’t want a reality show girl there.
“Or like with the Hollywood Walk of Fame … it’s not the walk of singing … it’s the Walk of Fame … and classism has been going on before racism. We’re classist. We have our cool table … and there’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue. She’s like the most intriguing woman right now. She’s got Barbara Walters calling her like everyday … and collectively we’re the most influential with clothing. No one is looking at what [President] Obama is wearing. Michelle Obama cannot Instagram a [bikini] pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day… so it’s to say when we are there and [editor-in-chief of French Vogue] Carine Roitfeld supports my girl, that’s a breakthrough … there’s a wall of classism that we are breaking through.”
Will you support your daughter North West if she wants to be in this industry?
“I’m going to support her in whatever she wants to do. I mean, if she wants to be an axe murder, then I’m not going to support that.”
But there are parts of fame you don’t like, like the paparazzi?
“What I needed to realize is that’s a blessing also. People can say fame is a curse and fame is a drug, but it’s learning how to handle that drug and how to handle the high. A lot of people … crash and burn and … having someone to hold onto really helps a lot. Having someone who you can talk to and doesn’t want you just for your money or to be famous … Kim is definitely not around me to be famous and I’m not around her to be. I’m around her because she’s awesome and she looks amazing and she’s a sweet person … It’s an unfair level of awesomeness in one person to be that smart, to be that nice to be … blatantly fine as hell. Like, one of the most beautiful people of all time. She’s not hard to wake up to.”