Kanye West appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night (October 9) after going on a much-publicized Twitter rant following a Kimmel sketch that made fun of a prior Kanye interview. The chat with Kimmel lasted for the vast majority of the show (bumping off musical guest Arctic Monkeys), and while Ye was stone-faced for most of it, things were never contentious. The two stars immediately explained they are acquaintances, and Kimmel, while pointing out that “a lot of people” think Kanye’s a jerk, vouched for the rapper’s character.
Much of the first three quarters of the appearance wasn’t so much an interview as it was Kanye’s long ramblings butting into Kimmel’s slightly confused, bumbling responses. Near the end, though, Yeezy was actually laughing and much more relaxed, and Kimmel gave him a present: baby leather jogging pants for daughter North.
Whatever your thoughts on Kanye, you must admit that the guy is honest, especially when it comes to fame. He likened society’s obsession with celebrities to the treatment of zoo animals. Yet despite his superstar status, he says, he still faces challenges trying to break into fashion and other industries because of pervasive “classism” and industry figures who still look down on rap.
In a touching moment, West spoke out against bullying: “People don’t stand up and protect their dreams… Creatives have gotten beat up my entire life. There’s moments when I stood up to drug dealers in Chicago and said ‘you can’t have my publishing, come and kill me.’” In perhaps his most honest moment, West called himself a “creative genius”: “There’s no other way to word it. I know you’re not supposed to say that about yourself… For me to say I wasn’t a genius I would just be lying to you and myself.”
Watch part one up top, then head below to watch the rest.
It’s clear from the interview that Ye’s brain is operating on another level from most, that his synapses are all firing all the time, and it’s hard for him to keep it all contained. It’s also endearing to see that, despite his huge level of fame and outsize ambition, he still gets nervous and uncomfortable in the spotlight (when he’s not performing, at least). West’s voice quivers, he was bobbing his legs up and down…he clearly doesn’t enjoy the “doing celebrity shit” part of the celebrity job. But he’s determined to use the platform to execute every idea he has. There’s something inspiring about that.
When you strip away the meme-ability and bluster of it all, Kanye seems to be a man who knows the transformative power of art, who simply wants to break down culture barriers so that music, fashion, technology, whatever piece of culture it is, can be more accessible to more people. If people see this interview and realize that, perhaps the era of Kanye The Villain will end.
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