More Kanye West Than You Can Possibly Digest (Interviews + Rants Roundup)

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye-Kanye. And did I forget to mention? Kanye. Mr. West (in my best Bernie Mac voice) has had an eye-opening, ego-shattering, milkshake-sipping press cycle over the past month or two, complete with late-night mock-ups, divine interventions and an unprecedented run of interviews and appearances. Kanye interviews are compulsively watchable/readable; a magic mixture of creative brilliance, left-brained insights on the world and no-he-did-not statements comparing himself to Jesus or saying things like "I try to keep it 5 years old at all times." And if you've yet to have your fill, we've got even more from the man they (he) call Yeezus. In light of all the new Kanye-isms and quotables, numerous press outlets have gone into the vaults and VHS bins to dig out their old, unpublished interviews with Yeezy, bumping the fascination with Kanye stories up to Prince-like levels. In the past few days we were graced with not one, not two, but three roughly a billion separate interviews that have dawned upon us from various points in the man's career, plus some onstage pontification. Taken together, it's a body of work that suggests his main mission in life may be to elevate the celebrity interview into a reality-TV-like performance art all its own. So lets take a trip down Kanye Lane to see where he came from, where he went and where he's getting ready to go.

First up on our trip, an hour-long unearthed interview from MTV's You Hear It First back in 2002 shows a slightly more humble Yeezy partaking in a candid Q&A at a time when he was just beginning his ascension to the highest strata of hip-hop's hierarchy. At a time when he and Pharrell were very much revitalizing Jay-Z's career, he discusses the soul sample stamp he put on all of his productions at the time, what he thought of the game as it laid and the story behind his signing to Roc-A-Fella. Not to mention a few classic Yeezy-isms. Please do partake in this jovial blast from the past.

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Flash forward 6 years, Yeezy's dropped two classics in The College Dropout and Late Registration, and has just dropped his change-of-pace record 808s & Heartbreak. Ye was expanding his industry with sorties into art and fashion, and finally enjoying his newly cemented role in pop's iconography, while also catching heat for the overtly electronic tonality of the new LP and the departure from his sample heavy hallmark. An unedited interview transcript (released in its entirety by FADER last week) from his 2008 cover story shows the birth of the Kanye we now know, with a few less things he good at. But as he points out and we soon learn, he's good at working at something until it's good.

"I really want to design but I really want to do something good, and, just my whole life I’ve never really been that talented at anything except for working at something to the point where it was good. And then after I’ve done it a few times, then I’m just good at it. When people first heard me rap, it sucked, and now I’m arguably the best in the world. So I just worked at it till it was good."

>>>Read The Full Q&A (via FADER)

To preface our final piece from this morning, we must include this piano accompanied self-help monologue/civil rights rant/socioeconomic commentary/commodity culture critique. During his set in Las Vegas last week, Kanye broke into this soliloquy mid-performance, waxing on everything he'd experienced during this press cycle. Playing both victim and messiah, he preaches against the evils of the industry, warning his congregation "don't believe nothing you see, cause you're constantly being lied to," all while his devoted followers watch him perform in front of an artificial mountain and stand side-by-side with a Jesus look-a-like. Contradictions galore, this one's just plain interesting (if sometimes rather difficult to follow.)

Yesterday morning Ye got up extra early to grace the public with a radio interview at Power 106 that was much more subdued than either of his last two. A now rarely playful Yeezy offered up some insight into his engagement (merger) with reality TV star Kim Kardashian, his recent violent spells with paparazzi, the Jimmy Kimmel incident, his fashion endeavors (of course) and finally his tour with Kendrick Lamar. All topped with a seldom spit freestyle live on air. This one's a welcome turn from the deeply combative and contentious sit-downs he had been taking part in this past year, giving us a peek at the human being behind the god.

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Kanye goes in on all the hot topics in this interview with AMP 97.1, from his use of the confederate flag on Yeezus merchandis ("It's my flag now. What you gon' do?") to his feedback on Miley Cyrus' twerk ("More twerking."). He also describes Tyler, The Creator as his "mentor" when it comes to making videos and designing some of the Yeezus Tour merchandise.:

“He came in and was like, these are the principals, because he’s so talented and understands things because he went to film school. I literally would like email and be like, ‘Can you teach me how to make videos?’ I want to learn.”

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Finally, Kanye West sat down with Ryan Seacrest to talk more poppy culture stuff like his proposal and upcoming marriage to Kim Kardashian, custom designing her ring with 4 different jewelers and other such topics:

RS: How involved will you be with the wedding planning?

KW: 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].

So what have we learned in this decade long journey through Mr. West's best? Perhaps that we've had the opportunity to observe an important artist develop, or maybe watched his demise. Despite being a figure in the industry for nearly 15 years, it may still be too early to tell whether he's on the up or down, but we can be sure that he's as dynamic and driven as he's ever been. And when Kanye claims he's going to do something, you better buckle up and get ready, cause he's at least going to try and take us all with him. More from Yeezus soon. He's probably somewhere talking shit right now.