West: [To someone outside room.] Lock that door and then stand on the other side of it until I knock for you … No, lock the doors up.
West: [Resuming a conversation in progress with Swift, her end initially unintelligible.] …old school s***, yeah. I’m doing great. I feel so awesome about the music. The album’s coming out February 11, I’m doing the fashion show February 11 at Madison Square Garden, we’re dropping the album February 12th that morning. It’s like…
West: Oh, thank you so, so much. Yeah. It feels good. It feels like real Ye, Apple, Steve Jobs-type music. So my next single, I wanted you to tweet it. It’s a good Friday to drop it. It’s a good Friday song. So that’s why I’m calling you, that I wanted you to put the song out.
Swift: Oh, wow. Like, um, what would people… I guess it would just be, people would be like, ‘Whyyyy is this happening?’ They would think I had something to do with it, probably.
West: Well, the reason why it will be happening is because it has a very controversial line at the beginning of the song about you.
Swift: [Apprehensively.] What does it say?
West: So it says… and the song is so, so dope. And I’ve literally sat with my wife, with my whole management team, with everything and tried to rework this line. I’ve thought about this line for eight months. I’ve had this line and I’ve tried to rework it every which way. And the original way that I thought about it is the best way, but it’s the most controversial way. So it’s gonna go Eminem a little bit, so can you brace yourself for a second?
Swift: [Sounding resigned.] Yeah.
West: Okay. All right. Wait a second, you sound sad.
Swift: Well, is it gonna be mean?
West: No, I don’t think it’s mean.
Swift: Okay, then, let me hear it.
West: Okay. It says, um,… and the funny thing is, when I first played it and my wife heard it, she was like, ‘Huh? What? That’s too crazy,’ blah, blah, blah. And then like when Ninja from Die Atwoord heard it, he was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the craziest s—. This is why I love Kanye,’ blah, blah, blah, that kind of thing. And now it’s like my wife’s favorite f***ing line. I just wanted to give you some premise of that. Right?
West: So it says ‘To all my Southside [N-word] that know me best, I feel like Taylor Swift might owe me sex.’
Swift: [Laughs, relieved.] That’s not mean.
West: Okay. Well, this is the thing where I’m calling you, because you’re got an army. You own a country of mother—ing 2 billion people, basically, that if you felt that it’s funny and cool and like hip-hop, and felt like just ‘The College Dropout’ and the artist like Ye that you love, then I think that people would be like way into it. And that’s why I think it’s super-genius to have you be the one that says, ‘Oh, I like this song a lot. Like, yeah, whatever, this is cool, whatever.’ It’s like, I got like s*** on my album where I’m like, ‘I bet me and Ray J would be friends, if we ain’t love the same bitch.’
Swift: Oh my God! I mean, I need to think about it, because you know, when you hear something for the first time, you just need to think about it. Because it is absolutely crazy. I’m glad it’s not mean, though. It doesn’t feel mean. But oh my God, the buildup you gave it, I thought it was going to be like, ‘That stupid, dumb bitch.’ But it’s not. So I don’t know. I mean, the launch thing, I think it would be kind of confusing to people. But I definitely like… I definitely think that when I’m asked about it, of course I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I love that. I think it’s hilarious.’ But, um, I need to think about it.
West: You don’t have to do the launching and tweet. That was just an extra idea I had. But if you think that that’s cool, then it’s cool. If not… I mean, we are launching the s*** like on just good Fridays on SoundCloud, on the site, s*** like that.
Swift: You know, the thing about me is, anything that I do becomes like a feminist think-piece. And if I launch it, they’re going to be like, wow, like, they’ll just turn into something that… I think if I launch it, honestly, I think it’ll be less cool. Because I think if I launch it, it adds this level of criticism. Because having that many followers and having that many eyeballs on me right now, people are just looking for me to do something dumb or stupid or lame. And I don’t know. I kind of feel like people would try to make it negative if it came from me, do you know what I mean? I think I’m very self-aware about where I am, and I feel like right now I’m like this close to overexposure.
West: Oh. Well, this one, I think this is a really cool thing to have.
Swift: I know, I mean, it’s like a compliment, kind of. [Chuckles.]
West: I have this line where I said… And my wife really didn’t like this one, because we tried to make it nicer. So I say ‘For all my Southside [N-word] that know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.’ And my wife was really not with that one. She was way more into the ‘She owes you sex.’ But then the ‘owe’ part was like the feminist group-type shit that I was like, ahhhhh.
Swift: That’s the part that I was kind of… I mean, they ‘re both really edgy, but that’s the only thing about that line is that it’s like, then the feminists are going to come out. But I mean, you don’t give a f***. So…
West: Yeah, basically. Well, what I give a f*** about is just you as a person, as a friend….
Swift: That’s sweet.
West: I want things that make you feel good. I don’t want to do rap that makes people feel bad. Like of course, like I’m mad at Nike, so people think, ‘Oh, he’s a bully. He ran on stage with Taylor. He’s bullying Nike now,’ this $50 billion company.
Swift: Why are people saying you’re bullying Nike?
West: Because on ‘Facts,’ like, I say, ‘Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, they line up for days / Nike out here bad, they can’t give s— away.’
Swift: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s just what you do, though. I mean, I wouldn’t say that it’s possible to bully a company like Nike. But I mean… um, yeah, I mean, go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way. And I really appreciate you telling me about it. That’s really nice.
West: Oh, yeah. I just had a responsibility to you as a friend. I mean, thanks for being like so cool about it.
Swift: Thanks. Yeah, I really appreciate it. The heads-up is so nice. You’d be surprised how many people just do things without even asking or seeing if I’d be okay with it, and I just really appreciate it. I never would have expected you to tell me about a line in one of your songs. That’s really nice that you did.
West: You mean like unexpected s— like you taking the time to give someone a really, really valuable award and then they completely run for president right afterwards? Like unexpected in that kind of way? [Laughs.] [Swift presented West with his lifetime achievement award at the 2015 Awards. He followed with a rambling speech where he admitted he had smoked pot beforehand, also revealing his aspiration to run for president.]
Swift: [Laughs.] We have not talked about what happened.
West: I just thought that was wavy. It was vibey. The funny thing is I thought about the weed and the president, both of those things I thought about in the shower the day before and just started laughing like crazy. I was like, I gotta say that I had just smoked some weed and then say I’m gonna run for president… So those are my bases of… I knew I wanted to say the thing about going to like the Dodgers game with my daughter and like getting booed and that being scary, and I knew I wanted to say like me changing and thinking about people more since I had a daughter. And then I wanted to say the weed thing. And then I wanted to say the president thing. And everything else was just like off the cuff.
Swift: Oh my God. It was definitely like it stole the show… And then the flowers that you sent me. I Instagrammed a picture of them and it’s the most Instagram likes I’ve ever gotten. It was like 2.7 million likes on that picture of the flowers you sent me. Crazy.
West: It’s some connection or something that I think is really important about that moment when we met on stage. There’s something that I think is really important about that, and where humanity is going, or now where me and Kim are, and having a family and just everything, the way things are landing. So it’s always… relationships are more important than punchlines, you know.
Swift: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think anybody would listen to that and be like, ‘Oh, that’s a real diss’ — like, ‘She must be crying about that line.’ And I think because of how crazy and strange and fateful the way we met was, I think we have to pick our moments to do stuff together and make sure it’s only really cool stuff.
West: Yeah, exactly. We can’t have it like be somebody else’s idea that gets in front and they’re like… Because if you’re like a really true, creative, visceral, vibey type person, it’s probably hard for you to work at a corporation. So how can you give a creative creative ideas and you’re working in a house of non-creativity? It’s like this weird… So whenever we talk directly… Okay, now what if later in the song I was also to have said, uh… ‘I made her famous’? Is that a…
Swift: [Apprehensively.] Did you say that?
West: Yes, it might’ve happened. [Laughs.]
Swift: Well, what am I going to do about it?
West: Uh, like, do the hair flip?
Swift: Yeah. I mean… Um… It’s just kind of like, whatever, at this point. But I mean, you’ve got to tell the story the way that it happened to you and the way that you’ve experienced it. Like, you honestly didn’t know who I was before that. Like, it doesn’t matter if I sold 7 million of that album [Fearless] before you did that, which is what happened. You didn’t know who I was before that. It’s fine. But, um, yeah. I can’t wait to hear it.
West: I mean, it’s fun. It’s definitely… You’re ready to trend. That’s all I can say.
Swift: Uh, what’s the song called?
West: Uh, it might be called ‘Hood Famous.’
Swift: Oh, cool. Is it going to be like a single-single, or is it going to be a SoundCloud release? What are you doing?
West: Oh, this one right here is like f***ing Song of the Year-type territory.
Swift: Oh my God. Amazing. That’s crazy. Oh my God. Speaking of Song of the Year, are you going to the Grammys?
West: Uh, you know what? I was thinking to not do it. But I think that this song… You know what? I’m going to send you the song and send you the exact wording and everything about it, right? And then we could sit and talk through it. But if the song goes and f***ing just… [Brief break in video.]
Swift: [Resumes.] … they just look at us and go… [Unintelligible] …Even if we’ve made an incredible achievement, it’s harder for people to write down our names for some reason. That’s just human nature. It’s envy. It’s asking people in our industry to vote for the people who are already killing it.
West: Yeah. It’s like so many people wanted Meek Mills (sic) to win because Drake was just killing it for so long, and they were just like, ‘We just need like Meek Mills (sic) to like…’ But I think, you know, okay, so that has my mind going through a lot of places to problem-solve. I was talking to Ben Horowitz — do you know this guy? He’s a VC. Ben Horowitz out of San Fran. But he’s down with that.
Swift: I know that name. I don’t know him.
West: It’s just like the San Fran clique, you know, that type of thing, like he stays down the street from Mark Zuckerberg and s*** like that. So I was talking to him and I was like, ‘Bro’… Like me, I’m in personal debt. I’m in debt by a good like 20, 30 million, ever since the fashion, and still have not made it out of it. So that’s part of the reason why I had to go to Roc Nation and the touring deals evolved, and it allowed the whole town to try to feel like they could control Kanye or even talk to me like I’m regular or have agents do it, but they saw they couldn’t. It’s like even in debt, he moves around like he’s like a billionaire.
I’m like, yeah, I’m a cultural trillionaire! I might have financial debts. So I told Ben Horowitz, I was like, ‘You guys, you, Mark Zuckerberg or whoever, Tim Cook, you guys have to clean that up.’ So I’m sending Ben Horowitz my current balance. That means that l’m not up 50, not up 100 million, not up 200 million, not up 300 million. No —negative 20 million, currently. I, Kanye West, the guy who created the genre of music that is the Weeknd, that is Drake — the guy who created… Every single person that makes music right now, favorite album is ‘The College Dropout.’ Every single person that makes music. But I’m rich enough…
Like, I went into debt to my wife by 6 million working on a f***ing house, less than like a few months ago, and I was able to pay her back before Christmas and s— like that. So, you know, when I talk about Nike, the idea that they wouldn’t give me a percentage, that I could make something that was so tangible, when Drake was just rapping me into the motherf***ing trashcan, that I could have something that was tangible that showed my creativity and expressed myself, that also could be a business that I could have a five-times multiple on and actually be able to sell it for like a hundred million, 200 million or a billion dollars, that was very serious.
Every conversation, every time I’d scream at Charlemagne (Tha God) or scream at (radio host) Sway, that was really, really, really serious. And it also was with my family. I felt like, look, if I’m just the angry black guy with some cool red shoes from Nike five years ago, I was going to be visiting my daughter, as opposed to be living with her. It would’ve been like, enough is enough. It wouldn’t have been cool anymore, because it would have been a group of people, including my wife, that all had at least like 500, 400 million in their account.
And then you get the angry black man at the party talking about ‘I’m the one that put Kim in the dress! I’m the one that did this!’ But it never realized itself. So that’s one of the things I just talked to Ben… And I talk about it on the album. Talk about personal debt and s***. Just the idea like, ‘Oh s—, this dude with this f***ing Maybach that makes f***ing $50 million a tour still hasn’t lined it up or came out of the point when AEG and Live Nation wouldn’t give him a deal.’ The debt started after ‘Watch the Throne,’ because I got no deal. But I still was doing my creative projects on my own, shooting a film, doing a fashion show, just trying to be very Disney, be very visceral, be creative. And…
Swift: I mean, I’m sure you’ve thought about this up and down, but I mean, is there a way to monetize these in a way that you thought would still feel authentic but make them into a multibillion dollar company?
West: Well, that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we’re in the plans of. I’m 100% going to be like a multi, multi, multi-billionaire. I think it’s fun that I can like be like Charlie Sheen and be like, ‘Hey, like, I got AIDS.’ You know, like…. To me, I told Drake that the other night. I was like, ‘Yo, Drake, I’m in personal debt.’ And for me to tell Drake, the f***ing number one bachelor in the world that can f***ing rap anybody into a trashcan, that lives four blocks down the street from my wife and like basically f—s all of her friends, that I’m in personal debt, it’s such a like putting down the sword or putting down the hand or opening, showing the hand. That I don’t have my poker face on with any of you guys.
I’m just me. I’m just a creative. You know, everything I did, even when it was mistimed, whatever it might’ve been from a… It’s always like from a good place, and I know that I’ll overcome it and I know that the world will overcome it. Because, like, I’m going to change the world. I’m going to make it… I’m gonna make people’s lives better on some post-Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes-type shit. Like, I’m going to do things with education. I’m going to do things that help to calm down murders in Chicago or across the globe. Things that help to calm down police brutality, to equalize the wealth amidst the class system.
Because there’s a bunch of classes of wealthy people that hate Obama because he’s more social and he wants the people who don’t have anything to have everything. And in my little way, by learning how to design, design is something that’s only given to the rich currently. The exact color palette that Hermes uses versus the color palette that Forever 21 uses — a color palette is extremely important. Color is important. You know, the knowledge of proportions… you know, the size of our house versus the size of someone else’s houses, and just the dynamics of that proportion. Like, I don’t want this conversation to go too, too long, but I wanted to give you a bit of where I’m at and the perspective that I’m at and the way… the fact that I am the microprocessor of our culture.
Meaning like, I can figure out how to give Rihanna a Mary J. Blige-type album. I can figure out how to get the fashion world to accept my wife, and thus the whole family. I can figure out a lot of impossible… I can figure out how to make something that you’re wearing to the airport, five years after the entire globe was like, ‘Hang that [N-word] alive and f*** him, and let’s watch him die, slowly, publicly.’ So, it’s a lot. I figured that out for myself, so it’s a lot of s— that we collectively, with the power that you have and your fans, the power my wife has, the power that I have, that we can do to really make it where it’s not just the rich getting richer, but… You know, make it not just a f***ing charity, not singing for Africa, but change things in a way that people can experience s— themselves, a piece of the good life. You know?
Swift: Yeah. I mean, they’re amazing ideas and amazing concepts, and I definitely would love to talk to you more about it. I know you have to do something right now, but I love that that’s where you’re headed. And it’s been like that. I mean, when we went to dinner, there were the rumblings of those ideas. I like that you’re always thinking outward. And over the last six, seven, eight years, however long it’s been since that happened, I haven’t always liked you, but I’ve always respected you. And I think that’s what you’re saying when you say like, you know, ‘I might be in debt, but I can make these things happen, and I have the ideas to do it, and I can create these things or these concepts.’ Like, I’m always going to respect you. And I’m really glad that you had the respect to call me and tell me that as a friend about the song, and it’s a really cool thing to do, and a really good show of friendship. So thank you.
West: Oh, thank you too.
Swift: And you know, if people ask me about it, look, I think it would be great for me to be like, ‘Look, he called me and told me the line before it came out. Like, the joke’s on you guys – we’re fine.’
West: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I think that’s pretty much the switch right there.
Swift: Yeah. Like, you guys want to call this a feud, you want to call this throwing shade, but you know, right after the song comes out, I’m gonna be on a Grammy red carpet, and they’re gonna ask me about it and I’ll be like, ‘He called me and sent me the song before it came out.’ So I think we’re good.
West: Okay. I’m gonna go lay this verse, and I’m gonna send it to you right now.
Swift: [Taken aback.] Oh, you just… you haven’t recorded it yet?
West: I recorded it. I’m nuancing the lines — like the last version of it says, ‘Me and Taylor might still have sex.’ And then my wife was like, ‘That doesn’t sound as hard!’
Swift: Well, I mean, she’s saying that honestly because she’s your wife, and like, um… So I think whatever one you think is actually better. I mean, obviously do what’s best for your relationship, too. I think ‘owes me sex,’ it says different things. It says… ‘Owes me sex’ means like ‘Look, I made her what she is. She actually owes me.’ Which is going to split people, because people who like me are going to be like, ‘She doesn’t owe him s—.’ But then people who like thought it was bad-ass and crazy and awesome that you’re so outspoken are going to be like, ‘Yeah, she does. It made her famous.’ So it’s more provocative to say ‘still have sex,’ because no one would see that coming. They’re both crazy. Do what you want. They’re both going to get every single headline in the world. ‘Owes me sex’ is a little bit more like throwing shade, and the other one’s more flirtatious. It just depends on what you want to accomplish with it.
West: Yeah, I feel like with my wife, that she probably didn’t like the ‘might still have sex’ because it would be like, what if she was on a TV show and said ‘Me and Tom Brady might still have sex’ or something?
Swift: You have to protect your relationship. Do what’s best. You just had a kid. You’re in the best place of your life. I wouldn’t ever advise you to f*** with that. Just pick whatever… It’s cause and effect. One is gonna make people feel a certain way, and it’s gonna be a slightly different emotion for the other. But it’s not… It doesn’t matter to me. There’s not one that hurts my feelings and the other doesn’t.
West: Yeah. It’s just, when I’m pointing this gun, what I tried to do differently than two years ago, is like when I shoot a gun, I try to point it away from my face. So one is a little bit more flirtatious and easier… I think, so really, that means the conversation is really, one is like a little bit better for the public and a little bit less good for the relationship. One is a little bit worse for the public and better for the relationship.
Swift: Yeah. I can hear it. But it’s your goals, really. I mean, you always just go with your gut — obviously. But, um, amazing. Send it to me. I’m excited.
West: All right, cool. Thanks so much.
Swift: Awesome. I’ll talk to you later.
West: All right, cool. Peace. Bye.
West: [To cameraman.] We had to get that on the record.
Cameraman: [About interruption.] I’m sorry. The battery on this thing died.
West: It’s just when it dies… You get some s*** like Kanye talking to Taylor Swift explaining that line? There’s gotta be three cameras on that one. We can’t miss one element.