Kanye West Talks 'Jesus Is King,' Christmas Album and Presidential Run in New Beats 1 Interview
By Meredith B. Kile
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA
Kanye West has a lot to say.
The rapper sat down for a candid interview with Beats 1's Zane Lowe on Apple Music on Thursday, where he opened up for nearly three hours about new music, old feuds and more.
As he prepares to release his new album, Jesus Is King, Kanye spoke about his new purpose-driven life, which has inspired the creation of his famed "Sunday Services" and more. "The most space that I had to think was when I went to the hospital. One of the things that happened when I went to the hospital is I started to read the Bible, started writing out, copying and writing out Bible verses," he said.
As for how he got to that place -- the rapper was hospitalized in late 2016 after a breakdown during his Saint Pablo tour, and has since said that he was addicted to opioids at the time -- Kanye explained, "A person came to my house that wasn’t a Christian and told me 'come over,' and 30 minutes later, I was in handcuffs on the way to the hospital. Now, this person very well may have saved my life because when you’re in an episode, you can jump off the side of a balcony, you can stab your eye out, you can do a lot of things when you’re ramped up like that. But one of the things that people do now is they try to discriminate against my mind and my thoughts because of that moment."
Prior to his hospital stint, Kanye says, his life was overwhelmed by concerns over material goods and public perception -- "I thought I was the god of culture " -- referring to his troubling appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 as "like a heroin addict with the needle coming out of my arm."
"There was a time when I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me. I was letting you know what the Hennessy had done for me, I was letting you know all these things," he shared. "But now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me. And in that I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son now, a son of God. I’m free."
That's not to say that the rapper has overcome all of his struggles. On a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kanye and wife Kim Kardashian West had an on-camera spat over how her "too sexy" public image affects him and his spiritual journey.
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"I suffer and I appreciate the suffering because we can feel a little bit of what Jesus experienced, but I suffer on social media. There are other married men that I know are happy to hear me say that," he explained to Lowe. "Social media prompts women, in particular, to put out content that they wouldn’t in the past. When I was younger and I wanted to see something like that I had to pay someone who was older… Now I have friends who have kids in high school and it’s readily available."
He's also coming to terms with some of his more public feuds, including that dust-up with Drake. "I go to Drake’s house. I walk over there with no security and leave my phone number, here’s my cell," he recounted. "But I’m not trying to ring the doorbell and say he’s gotta come out. He might be busy, he’s got a studio in there. He's probably recording."
In fact, Kanye explained, Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault is his "new Drake" in terms of the feud that occupies the most of his mental energy -- stemming from drama over his claims of a canceled deal and the fashion house recruiting Kanye's friend and collaborator, Virgil Abloh, to be their artistic director of menswear last year.
"When I talk, it's a dog whistle. The people who need to hear it, hear it, the people who don't need to hear it are too much bigots to believe that it could happen," Kanye said. "Bernard Arnault doesn't believe that the kid that had a backpack on in the studio would be standing across the stadium from JAY-Z, the greatest rapper ever."
Next up for Kanye, though, is new music, including his forthcoming album, Jesus Is King. The tracks have been played for fans at private listening events across the country, most recently in Los Angeles, but an official release date seems to still be up in the air -- the rapper made reference to "finishing" the album throughout the interview, leading fans to believe that the wait may be extended once again.
He also announced a second upcoming project in the interview, a Sunday Service-focused album titled Jesus Is Born, due for release on Christmas Day.
And the future seems bright as ever for Kanye, who, when speaking on cultural sensitivities, says offhand, "I don’t even know if I should even talk anymore... I’ll probably do more interviews when I’m president."
So his planned run in 2024 is still a thing? "We're working on it," he shared.