Nearly a decade after rapper Kanye West declared “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV, the hip-hop star has been ubiquitous – stealing the spotlight at the Grammys, performing on the “Saturday Night Live” 40th anniversary special and on Friday he spoke candidly during an exclusive interview with Power 105.1’s popular radio show “The Breakfast Club.”
During a roughly 1-hour chat, West admitted that he recently listened to Beck’s Album of the Year winner “Morning Phase” for the first time, and concedes it’s “kind of good.” West has been outspoken about the fact that he believes his friend, pop star Beyoncé, was more deserving of the award.
West’s recent streak of candor has been a departure for the rapper, who drew widespread criticism for staying silent in the wake of predominately black protests of alleged police brutality in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
“It’s almost like people wanted you to say something. Were you purposely falling back from being vocal on the Michael Brown situation and things like that?” Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of “The Breakfast Club,” asked West.
“My dad is like 100 times smarter than me and 100 times more social than me,” he continued. “That’s my only parent, so I have to listen to him, sometime … I think he’s just trying to be protective of his son. I can’t run in front of every bullet.”
West also mentioned that his upcoming album is about 80% complete and will include issues of police misconduct.
“Yeah, you know I’m always going to talk about ‘what’s going on’ like Marvin Gaye would say – it’s definitely in there,” he said.
West’s lyrics have frequently addressed social injustice, from his 2013 hit song “Blood on the Leaves” – which sampled Billie Holiday’s iconic “Strange Fruit” song, metaphorically addressing black lynchings, to the song “Everything I Am,” where he reflects on mass gun violence in Chicago.
“Chicago had over 600 caskets man, killing’s some wack sh-t,” rapped West on the track.
Still, the West moment that most galvanized crusaders for social justice was his blunt statement about former President Bush’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. West, side-by-side comic actor Mike Myers during a televised celebrity-driven relief fundraiser, went off script, and erupted in emotion over what he, and many others felt, was the Bush administration’s inadequate response to the disproportionately poor and black Gulf Coast residents who were devastated by the storm.
West was lauded but also criticized for his off-the-cuff remarks.
“It was a disgusting moment, pure and simple,” Bush wrote in his memoir “Decision Points” five years later. The two-term Republican later called West’s remarks one of the low points of his presidency.
In Friday’s “Breakfast Club” interview, West also defended his reality star wife Kim Kardashian’s decision to pose nude for the cover of Paper magazine two months ago. “My daughter has a chance of being shaped like my wife … between this age and the age when she’s like that, I’m going to be fighting for that shape to be considered the highest of class … or at least equal to what someone looks at a skinny model for,” he said.
The rapper also says he’s begun collaborating with controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
“Right now, I’m working on a documentary with him, about him, and about his music,” West said on “The Breakfast Club.” “He’s a classically trained violinist, and he’s also one of the most humane people. And now he got that stamp – in the same way how my wife was stamped with the sex tape, the minister was stamped with [bigotry]. It’s important that while he’s still alive, he has to see the people appreciate his message. If you ever hear him talk, it’s about humanity; it’s about one race. As soon as you hear his name, I see people’s faces change. They have a perception and there’s a lot I can learn from him.”