For more than a year, the most we’ve heard from Kanye West has come in the form of his sporadic, stream-of-consciousness tweets. Now, in a new, nearly two-hour-long interview with the Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God, he’s providing some clarity. Kanye opened up for the first time about his 2016 mental breakdown, the tension between him and Jay-Z, and his views on Trump. On his hospitalization, Kanye explains that a tornado of stressful events led to what he now views as a mental “breakthrough”: the rigors of touring, The Life of Pablo not performing well on radio (“ever since the Taylor Swift moment, it’s never been the same connection with radio”), Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris, and the onslaught of negative criticism of his fashion show when he arrived 45 minutes late (“it was the fashion community getting the right to say nigger without saying it”). He says he has been on medication but is not currently seeking professional therapy (“the world is my therapist”), and wants to “change the stigma of ‘crazy’ and the stigma of mental health.”
On his feud with Jay-Z, he says it boiled down to a business dispute exacerbated by a lyric on 4:44 where Jay claimed he gave Kanye $20 million only for Kanye to spend 20 minutes onstage disparaging his wife. “That concept that he gave me the money, that’s what frustrated me because, actually, the money he got from Live Nation. It was a touring deal. That made me feel like I owed more than the money itself.” He also notes that he was “hurt” that Jay and Beyoncé did not attend his and Kim Kardashian’s wedding: “I understand they was going through some things. But if it’s family, you’re not gonna miss a wedding.” He says he hasn’t asked them directly why they didn’t come, and if the tabloid rumors that Beyoncé doesn’t like the Kardashians might’ve been the reason. Despite their tension, however, Kanye says he and Jay have had positive communication recently via text though they have yet to meet again in person.
As for his feelings on the president, Kanye says his friends have asked him what made George W. Bush any more racist than Donald Trump. His response: “If racism was the deal-breaker for me, I wouldn’t live in this country.” He claims he did not meet with Trump because of his breakdown and “would meet with him today and I would talk about Chicago first and then some more things.” He also notes that he felt betrayed by Barack Obama, whom he says had previously called Kanye his favorite rapper and met with Kanye and his mother to tell them he was running for president before he announced his candidacy. He believes Obama went on to call him a “jackass” and never apologized because Kanye became no longer safe to support: “Just tell me you love me. Tell the world you love me. Don’t tell the world I’m a jackass. I’m fighting hard enough.”