Here’s a bit from one of the few interviews I could find online, circa 2003. Again, I can barely believe this conversation didn’t happen three years ago, or last year, or yesterday. Kanye’s always saying that interviewers butcher his words, and that seems like ego or spirit talking, but then, it’s also probably also the truth.
HHS: Okay. The fact that you dropped out of college and pursued your dreams of music is well documented. But it seems like everyone wants to be a rapper or producer these days. What advice would you give to these aspiring artists regarding school because unfortunately not everyone can make it?
KW: Your putting your life in your own hands. You got certain niggas that was drug dealers. And certain niggas was drug dealers and was able to go off and start businesses and get houses from it. Other niggas got killed or locked up. You taking your life into your own hands. If you not conforming to what society wants you to do, your taking your on life in your own hands. Hold on… [Clicks over]
KW: Hello, what were we saying?
HHS: Yeah, you were just answering the question about school and saying ‘That’s your own choice.’
KW: Nah, that’s not what I said. Whenever I speak in interviews, I hate that. I did not say ‘It’s all your choice.’ I said ‘You’re taking your life into your own hands.’
HHS: Aright, I apologize.
KW: I’m real specific and they [media] always change my words. Your own choice and your life into your own hands are two different things. You know what I’m saying? That’s why I hate written and printed interviews because they don’t fuck with how I talk. They gotta cut the words down. Let’s go into that. Yo, I hate interviews, Source, XXL, whoever, they cut the words down. They try to cut your words down. They got something they want people to, whatever vibe they called it. They want to portray you to the listeners. Instead of having the listeners make their own decision about you.
I get that the interviewer doesn’t exactly seem like he’s trying to manipulate West’s words, but he is being imprecise. That’s kind of troubling, especially when interviews are generally presented as, you know, a supposedly objective record of someone’s words. (Or, if you’re Prince, the opposite of that.) It just occurs to me that Kanye’s griping about the media has become such a big part of his story, and he does himself so few favors when he gets to address his fans directly, that it all seems like a schtick now. But I think it’s safe to say he 1) has a hard time expressing himself clearly, and 2) the media does do a poor job representing his words. Which, you know, must drive him absolutely batty.