Pusha T From A to B: “We Argue, We Fight, We Disagree. We Make Great Music. We Love It.”

Last week, Pusha T joined Red Bull Music Academy host Anupa Mistry on stage for a Q&A at Berlin’s Soviet-era Kino International movie theatre. For 90 minutes, the rapper and G.O.O.D. Music record label president discussed his discovery of music – and some other things – in his youth alongside neighbors Pharell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Timbaland, making his way to the present day, talking the fallout of his summer beef with Drake, his working relationship with Kanye West, and the status of lyricism in hip-hop in 2018.

Born in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, Terrence LeVarr Thornton, better known as Pusha T, is one of the most influential rappers alive. Thornton began his music career in 1992 when he and his brother No Malice formed rap duo Clipse. Their albums Lord Willin’ (2002) and Hell Hath No Fury (2006), both of which were produced by The Neptunes, are accepted masterworks of the genre, each elevating the sonic scope and lyricism of grim, drug-centric gangster rap. After founding Re-Up Records and releasing a handful of mixtapes, the brothers pursued solo careers on the heels of 2009’s ’Til the Casket Drops. Since signing to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2010, Thornton has released three studio albums on G.O.O.D. Music and Def Jam Recordings. His seven-track 2018 album Daytona, which was produced exclusively by Kanye West, is arguably his strongest and most cohesive effort yet, featuring his sharpest writing and the most damaging diss track in recent rap history.

ANUPA MISTRY: So we are here in Berlin. 4,228 miles from Virginia Beach, according to Google Maps. And that’s where you were raised and where you became Pusha T. What can you tell us about where you grew up and how it might be culturally distinct from other big cities in America that people might feel like they know more about?

PUSHA T: Well, I’d have to say that Virginia Beach isn’t really a big city, it’s not. And I think that’s what makes it so special about everything that’s came out of there. It’s a military town, actually. So when it came to musical influences, I always knew about what was going on in southern hip-hop, Bay Area hip-hop. Of course, New York. New York was a heavy influence in Virginia at the time. It was just a small town with a lot of different influences, and I would probably base that on the military first.

Living in Virginia at that time, you gotta think about it, it’s a military town. It’s also a college town. Norfolk State University, Hampton University, ODU, a little further out, Virginia State. Colleges everywhere. And during this time, the New Yorkers flooded our area, super flooded our area. The drug culture was super heavy. It was really, really a big thing at the time. So just living through that and actually, I actually seen Big in a club. Raekwon was friends with some of my friends. So when these albums hit, it was like chaos through the town.

You had everybody in Virginia at the time talking like they had adopted all of this slang of like Wu-Tang [Clan] and you just saw the Bad Boy influence super heavy. And these guys were great. These guys were great. Living through that time, seeing it, it had a major impact on me.

So you and your brother started rapping together around ’92-ish?

No, no. My brother was always rapping. I wasn’t rapping. My brother is five years older than me. When he was in middle school, junior high school, he was part of a rap group that the principal called a gang. And it was a duo. It was a group of guys who were all duos, and the producer and DJ for everybody was Timbaland.

So I didn’t start rapping until probably ’93, maybe even later than that. I just remember it not being cool to say that you were rapping. When I was growing up, I remember watching my brother and them be into it, and then when my generation sort of came it was like, “You rap? Get outta here. You better go get on the block. Go get some money or something like that.” But it definitely wasn’t about rap at the time. I had friends who were in the music industry. And I told you Timbaland was the DJ for my brother and those guys. He lived up the street one way. Pharrell [and] Chad [Hugo] lived up the street a mile away.

I wasn’t rapping when I knew them. It was just something in the water, who knows. It’s like the weirdest story ever to know how close in proximity we all lived. And we all knew each other. It’s crazy.

So then, what changed? When did you start thinking rapping could be cool?

Teddy Riley, producer of New Jack Swing, everything great in R&B during the ’90s. He moved to Virginia Beach. He actually moved next door to Pharrell’s high school. They had a talent show, Pharrell and the Neptunes, N.E.R.D, was discovered. Again, we were all friends at this time. And he was just doing work. Pharrell was writing little parts to “Rump Shaker” and doing SWV things. And I’m like, “This is like a business.” Again, I was like, “Isn’t this for the guys who are on TV? This ain’t for us.” Pharrell really, really drove in the fact of like, “Look man, this thing can happen. It can really happen.”

Well that actually brings me to this really interesting point, which is I think that you have become known as carrying on a specific rap tradition, and I’m wondering if early Clipse had an aesthetic goal in mind similar to what you might have now?

Making music was just so fun with early Clipse. Just imagine discovering the music business with your friends, care-free, all day. Me and Pharrell talk every morning from nine in the morning already. So it’s nine in the morning, we’re talking, by 12, we’re together on bikes. Bikes turn to cars. Studio. I don’t even know if it was an aesthetic. I don’t know. It was competitive. We would work all day. And this is the reason why I don’t know how to work in studios now. Now, I still don’t know how to pull all-nighters. Guys being there with their Hennessy and stuff and they do like this whole ritual. Weed, Hennessy, three in the morning, five. “Look at me, I’m up. Ah!” [laughter]

OK. I don’t know how to do that. I still don’t know how to do that now. But it’s because of the way we were taught, the way I was taught. We’d work, nine, 12 in the morning to ten at night, go eat, and then we’d go to the club. And we’d go to the club simply to hear and watch people and how they reacted to the music. We’d go there, we’d listen, we’d watch, and the next night or the next morning, Pharrell would be like, “Yo man, I’m going to kill the ‘[It’s All About the] Benjamins,’ I’m going to kill that.” Or whatever record was out. And that was the motivation.

I think one of the things that I find really interesting is that Clipse came out and had this credibility, and then merging my two worlds. I was an early Clipse fan, but I really liked boy bands. And then you put out a track with Justin Timberlake.

Score!

I loved R&B. You put out a track with Kelis.

Score!

All of that was my shit. But you know, I think we have to keep in mind that those worlds were really divided at that time.

Shout out to Neptunes. They were the darling producers. They were super producers. They owned, what was it 49 or 51%, Shiv? They owned 51% of the charts at that time. So 51% of the charts, that got to be street records and that got to be pop records.

I think a different type of artist would maybe get clowned for doing something like that. That didn’t happen with the Clipse.

Yeah, but the records were hot. This wasn’t like a compromise. I didn’t have to rhyme about rainbows or nothing. Everybody wanted a piece of the streets. Everybody wanted the edge. That’s what they wanted at the time.

It’s been almost ten years since ’Til the Casket Dropped came out.

Yeah.

Looking back, did you have a sense that that was going to be as long of a hiatus as it has turned out to be?

Well, I knew that my brother didn’t want to rap anymore. He told me about it on tour. We were overseas and he was like, “Hey, man, I don’t really want to rap anymore. I sort of want to do the solo thing. And I wrote a book. Here, take it.” He was like, “Read it.”

What were your thoughts?

I was like, “Oh you gonna write a book? I can’t write a book. You just want to be better than me.” [laughter]

He gave me a lot of time to think about it. He was like, “Man, you want to do your solo career anyway. You should go ahead. You should go for it because right now, I’m just not on that wave. I’m not on that wave right now.” We’re going through a lot. We’re talking about ’09, April ’09. Everybody who we came into the music industry with, outside of my rap friends, were indicted on a drug conspiracy.

It was a drug conspiracy, and everybody got from ten to 34 years. For me, of course it was a terrible blow. For my brother, I feel like – and I’m not trying to speak for him – but I think he saw things a little differently. His kids would go to bible study with their kids. He saw the effects in a different way than I saw it. If you ask me, through the kids. And he was not with it.

Did you see the shift happening at all?

Yeah. My brother’s a very… We’ve always called him the voice of reason, anyway. He’s very shrewd, very direct, the voice of reason, [a] no nonsense type of person. When things got shaky with the whole prison situation, indictments, so on and so forth, I could just tell. We made it through it, but again, he’s watching the effects daily through children. His kids, friends with my God-kids, and so on and so forth. Money can’t patch it up. They can come over and stay the night, but they do go back home and things are different. I feel like he was over it at that point, and that’s really just what it was.

Were you ready to go solo when he broke that news to you?

I don’t know. I just knew it was something that we couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t stop. I’m like, “Man, I feel I’m nice. I think I’m good.” [laughs] He sprung this on me. There were internet rumblings of, “What if Pusha T was solo?” And you got the Re-Up Gang mixtapes, where it was four of us and everybody gets a verse and people were picking their favorites. I don’t feel like I had a choice. I have management. I got management. I got friends that are relying and living off of what it is that I do. It was just, “That’s the next step, let’s go.”

Ironically, I think I was like in Sweden and [Kanye West] called, he was like, “Hey, man, want to come to Hawaii and work on this album with me?” I was like, “Sure.” And that’s how I got like all my [air miles]. I’m a million miler, right? So I got all of these miles because I kept flying from like Hawaii to Sweden, Hawaii… I was on tour in Europe at the time when my brother told me this. So when [Kanye] asked me to come, I was like, ‘OK. Boom. If I have three days off, I’ll just fly out there.’ And then he’d fly me out there, fly me back, fly me out there, fly me back. This happened like a trillion times

So you went out to Hawaii, you delivered two really incredible appearances on Kanye’s record: “So Appalled” and “Runaway.” Did you feel like you had to prove yourself? Are we hearing some of that tension or struggle on those records?

You’re definitely hearing somebody cracking the whip. Ye was nuts. I don’t even know him either at this time, I don’t know him well. I know him in passing, met him in the studio a couple times. I believe it was earlier that year or maybe the year before, Don C’s birthday gift to Ye was the Clipse coming to perform Hell Hath No Fury in its entirety at the Louis Vuitton store in New York. It was like an opening or something.

I love that you did birthday parties.

Yeah, a couple bar mitzvahs. I do them. [laughter]

You’re talking about Kanye being a really big fan of yours, but what drew you to him as a collaborator? Was it just the promise of Hawaii?

Well, no. Ye, production-wise, has always been top-notch to me. He heightened, to me, Hov’s [Jay-Z] greatness. Definitely. That marriage was like… Hov was always my favorite rapper, so just as a rapper I’m like, “OK, he’s like the greatest rapper. Cool.”

Lyrically, you just, I’m keyed in, I’m listening to him, and then he gets with Ye and these records and it’s like, “Wait a minute, that’s even intensified.” So, I was always like, “OK. Wait a minute. This guy’s great.” You know, Graduation hit. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was my every day, every night, every minute song. He was just always innovating. Always innovating. So it was a no brainer. It was like, “I’m going.”

You talked a bit about kind of the work flow, the work environment, differences between Kanye’s production process and Chad and Pharrell’s, but what about musically? You talked about Pharrell and Chad giving you brightness in rap whereas before you were hearing just darkness. What about with Kanye? What was Kanye giving you that you couldn’t maybe get from Pharrell?

Nostalgic soul. Nostalgic soul samples. Or, if it wasn’t a sample, he definitely knew how to recreate that feeling. And when it comes to me, he always tells me, “Your voice is the instrument. I gotta strip down every song for you because you’re more of an instrument than I am this time.”

To me, he’s found my sound. He’s found the new Pusha T sound, musically. If you go to “Numbers on the Board,” if you go to “Nostalgia,” if you go to “The Games We Play,” today you go to “Come Back Baby,” he’s found that sweet spot that musically he knows. He just knows.

He knows like, “Hey, this is your beat.” We’ll go away to wherever we are recording, and I have faith. I always have faith that he’s going to find that sound. He does. I mean, listen, it can take forever. It can take days, weeks, but he finds it. When we’re doing this whole five album five weeks thing, that all started from just me and him going to work on my album. We didn’t find my album. We found Teyana [Taylor]’s album first, we found a couple joints for himself, then boom! “The Game We Play” comes. He’s like, “Ah! That’s your record. Go write that now!” But this days, maybe a week or so away. It takes time. It’s like an art, man. Was it 6,000? We were like 6,000 records he’s like listening to? Some days it’s just him listening to songs. And he’s like, “Oh! Pull that up!” Start doing whatever he does.

Is there a method to any of that? Is there a spreadsheet, or like what is the playlist?

Yeah, you go to Amoeba Records in LA, you grab a whole bunch of records, you buy a bunch, you load them up, and you listen to them. That’s what he does. That’s his process. That’s what I’ve seen him do for me and for all of those projects. Like I said, he finds a sweet spot and creates the magic from there.

So you’ve detailed a bit of the Daytona process, going away, finding a sound, finding some other records in the process. But you had a record before going into Wyoming.

Before going into Wyoming, right, what I do is, I just go around and I sit with producers. All types of producers, new young, whatever. I hear anything that I like, I take it, I rhyme to it, I rap to it, lay it down and just store it. When I feel like I’ve found my voice on the project, and then found the direction and just the whole theme of the project, I take it to Ye and be like, “Yo, I got my album.”

And you know, nine times out of ten he hasn’t heard the verses. I may have given him the beats, I may have given him the beats, and he’ll be like, “Oh I like that one,” or “I don’t like that one,” or whatever. So between me picking and between him picking through that, I write all of those and then I let him hear it. And I be like, “Yeah, we got the album. What’s up? Let’s round this out real quick.”

This time, a lot was going on at the time, with him. [laughs] He was like, “Hey man, I actually think I can do this better.” And I was like, “Alright.” You know, I’m ready to come out though. I’m like, fuming inside. And he’s like, “I think I can do it better.” And I was like, “Yo. You do know that you picked all of these beats. You did this. You A&Red this project.” He was like, “I know, man. I’m just telling you I can do it better. Why don’t we just go away? I need some therapy, anyway.” [laughs]

The record you kind of had and put away, what was the theme or the story you were trying to tell with that record? And how might it be different from what we hear in Daytona?

 

It’s like, you know, it’s like he does this great, great convincing job of you know, like, “Listen, man. This is your sound, bro. You can’t abandon your sound.” I’ll be like, “Yo, man, it’s one song.” He’s like, “No. We don’t want one song. We don’t. We just want it all like this.” Everybody comes into the room. They’re like, “I think he’s right.” [laughter] I have no backing, no nothing.

Does anyone say, “No”?

I mean, I do. I say no a lot. I mean some people do. But I don’t know. It’s just how it goes.

One of the things that you said about Daytona is that you’re trying to channel first album energy.

Yeah.

So how do you channel first album energy pretty much two decades into your career?

I just have a chip on my shoulder, honestly. I really do when it comes to rap. Um, cause I don’t think lyric driven hip-hop goes out of style. I don’t believe that. Even with rap changing and the different subgenres of rap and the different sounds, the chip on my shoulder is competing with those sounds.

It’s like . . . I want to be the disruption to all of this. And I don’t want you to think that you can do what I do. I don’t want you to feel like you can do that. I’m not into that. I feel like if you feel like you can do what I do, then I’ve lost. So looking for first album energy, I just try to tap into like the brash, you know, young Pusha T who just doesn’t give a damn. Like, he’s a rebel. That guy? That guy’s loony.

Perhaps we could also talk about some of the other ways that you were challenged on this record, musically, not just in terms of Kanye’s kind of work flow, or that kind of thing.

Of course! I’m used to the work flow now. That’s whatever. But the seven song thing was a challenge because we had more. We had more. We had more that I had fallen in love with, and he hadn’t fallen in love with them.

By this time I mean . . . You guys really gotta understand, I came in with the full, G.O.O.D., Kanye West A&Red album that “Hey, you know, he’s probably gonna put some drums, whatever. Boom.”

By the time he heard it, and he had made the decision like, “No, nobody else is touching this,” number one, he gets very selfish. Extremely. And then he got hype and was like, “Oh no! I’m making an album. Teyana’s making an album. Like everybody gets an album! Nas is getting an album!”

Its like Oprah. “You get an album! You get an album!” [laughter]

Yes! It wasn’t that, but he found his bounce. He found his bounce, and I really think he was inspired. I feel like he fell in love with the keyboards and the drum machines, and he fell in love with all that stuff all over again right in front of my eyes.

He found seven and he was like, “No I love this. Matter of fact, everybody getting seven. We gonna give every. I’m doing seven for everybody. I like the number. [applause]

I was like, “You gonna give me you like the number reason? You like bullying me at this point.” He’s like, “No. I actually do like the number.”

There’s probably some numerology reason for seven.

Listen, I’m sure. He could make it up right now if you asked him. What really sold me, because he really knows I’m so, so anti . . . The idea of everybody putting 25 tracks on an album to get their streams up and all of that is such a poverty way of cheating to me. I’m not into it. So I was like, “You know what? You’re right. We need to be totally against everything and we need have a whole other mantra in regard to what we are doing in this wave.” And he sold me on it.

How did he sell you on the album art?

I don’t know if you guys follow my tweets or whatever. Maybe some of you do. But that whole process was really happening in real time. And I was doing radio promo with no album artwork. Album’s coming out the next day. I tweeted. I said, “Ay, listen guys. This album is coming out. I don’t got the artwork yet, but when I get it, you’re gonna have it.” I’m tweeting that. I send that tweet out. I got an photographer who’s done the photos for My Name is My Name, Darkest Before Dawn. He’s done all… He’s done so much for G.O.O.D. Music.

We got him in to do a photo shoot. I found a great photo, it’s a photo of myself. I’m happy with it. I like pictures of myself on my album. I like myself. I want to be seen. Yes. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask. [laughter]

So I’m like, “Yo! OK, cool.” I found it, I mocked it up. I was like “Hey, this is what I like.” ’Cause it was winding down. He’s doing all these projects. He’s doing mine. I’m like, “You don’t need to worry about this type of stuff, man. Just let me just do this.” At 12, one o’clock in the morning I get a call. It’s him and he’s like, “Hey, man. You know I just don’t feet like this art is capturing the greatness of what’s on this album.” And I’m like, “First of all, it’s a picture of me. I better be capturing the greatness of what’s on this album. What do you mean?” [laughter]

“No, I’m telling you that I got an idea. I got this idea. I got an idea. I’ll get back to you. We not putting that out quite yet, OK?” “OK.” That was it. I wake up in the morning… Um, oh no. That’s one thing. You know he told me the price of the art and I was like, “Hey! We don’t have to spend that on my art.”

$85,000

Yeah! I was like, “Hey! I was like, I don’t want to do that! I don’t want you to do that!” He was like, “No, I want to do it.” And I was like, “Alright.” I still didn’t know what it was gonna end up being until the next day, and I had to do like radio… By the time it came out – No! I’m sorry. When the album came out, I was doing radio phoners and I was getting these wild, wild, interviewers who were like, “Listen. I feel a way.” And I was just like, “Oh, OK. You feel a way. What’s wrong?” They were like, “This art is so disrespectful,” so on and so forth. It was like, “Whoa, wait a minute.” I was trying to explain to everybody like, “Listen, this art was done, honestly, just trying to capture… It was drugs, luxury, everything that picture said. Granted, it was from Whitney [Houston]’s bathroom, right? The home bathroom, I believe, not the hotel. I think it was the home bathroom.

I think it might have been…

But nobody was trying to play Whitney out or nothing. The picture was just like it was perfect. It was the perfect description. Organized chaos, drugs, luxury, ups, downs, everything I was describing on this album. And that’s what it was. And I’m sticking by it. I love it, and it was paid for. And where’d the money go? To the person who sold it. So, with that being said, you know, it was for sale. You buy things you want. You sell things you wanna sell. That’s how it goes. Retail 101.

There’s a Daytona track called “Hard Piano” and on it you rap, “I won’t let you ruin my dreams or Harvey Weinstein the kid, good morning Matt Lauer, can I live?”

Yeah.

This record came out when both of those men were facing and admitting the serious allegations of sexual assault.

Yes.

When you are writing a punchline, how do you think through the word play versus the way those references might play out in the public consciousness?

I rap for an intelligent individual, man. I really do. I rap for people who know what’s going on in society, know what’s going on in current events. We call it sacrificing for the greater good, actually. That’s when we just know what we’re talking about and we know that there’s a certain individual who’s going to know what we are talking about, but maybe the other person might not. It ain’t for them. It’s really not.

You know, when I’m talking about Matt Lauer, and I’m talking about Harvey Weinstein, it’s like man. It’s “I won’t let you ruin my dreams. Or Harvey Weinstein the kid. Good morning Matt Lauer. Look at my new digs. The rooftop can host a paint and sip for like 40.” I’m talking about just not falling into any of those wild, weird, sexual-deviant behaviors. And I’m also talking about just my growth. I got different things to brag about. I just got married. Not into the whole chasing 90,000 women and so on and so forth. That’s not it anymore. Times are changing. That’s not the thing.

I would extend this to people making all genres of music in general, but do you feel like rap has a responsibility to be more socially responsible in the language that artists use?

Yeah. I would say yes. But, I’m saying yes because I’m from the era of “The Message.” That was one of the first rap songs. Rap to me is you talk about what’s going on outside right now. You tell me the story of what’s happening. What do you see? What’s going on? You address the issue. You attack the issue. Whatever it is. I don’t know rap that doesn’t do that. I don’t necessarily listen to rap that doesn’t do that. I may have fun to it, I may bounce to it. Whatever.

When you hear my records, I want you to try to solve the puzzle. I want you to discover things and say, “Oh my God! That’s what he was talking about!” But I want you to do that four weeks later. I want that to happen. That’s the goal. Man, I may have just now deciphered Reasonable Doubt. That was ‘96. And I needed the book to code it. That’s the beauty of hip-hop to me. That’s the beauty of rap. That’s the art in it. That’s the greatness in it. I don’t know. Everything else is good. Like I said, the other sub-genres and what they do, and the fun you can have with them, so on and so forth. It’s cool, but this right here, this is something different to me.

So, when you talk about having a message addressing an issue, attacking an issue, what is the issue at heart when you’re putting out a record addressing a rapper like Drake?

What is the issue?

Yeah, what is the issue?

Oh, it’s the competitive spirit. It’s the competitive spirit. He puts out records and he says what he says, and it’s just about combating that. And coming back at it, lyrically. That’s what it is that I do. I feel like that’s another aspect of what that competitive spirit is, and just standing your ground and showing what you believe in.

After all of the discussions that your record has brought up – and there’s Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly kind of back and forth this year – what is your sense of how people understand this competitiveness, or this tradition of beef and diss records in rap that you’re talking about? Do people get it?

I don’t know if people get it. I don’t know. I don’t really know. I don’t know how they look at it. You can look at social media, and you can read comments that say, “Hey, Pusha T went crazy! But he sold less records.” You know? Or you can look at comments like, “Man, that wasn’t that good.” You know? Whatever. “A billion streams.” I don’t really know. I don’t know how people take it. I feel like I know how my people take it. Now, I know what they think. They’re me. So they look at it how I look at it. We chop heads off, that’s it. And that’s really it for me.

But that’s the battle wave. It’s funny because people will play with the whole battle notion in their raps. They’ll say slick things, they’ll do this, they’ll say this, they’ll say that. Right? But then when it comes it’s, “Oh, it’s too far! Oh, you can’t do this! I’ma write a whole dissertation about why this wasn’t supposed to be.” Bruh. It’s not even fun at this point.

I think you have to be really careful in toying with it. I feel like once you play in it, now you have to really play. You have to really play. Even with that whole situation, you gotta really think about it. I really didn’t do. It happened during my album roll-out. So I did interviews during my album roll-out, and of course that was happening. So it’s like, “OK,” and I have to talk about that. But since that I haven’t really talked about it. Because to me it ain’t nothing to talk about. It’s just action. When it’s time for action, we go for action. And that’s it. It’s like war games. Why we gotta talk about it? If we gonna get busy, we gonna get busy. You don’t walk to the bus stop to fight, to talk. You don’t do that, right?

And that makes sense. Content is king. So you gotta keep your content to yourself until it’s time to engage. So I don’t really know how people think anymore. I don’t. I’ma tell you what I do notice, though. And I’ve seen this a few times. There’s not a lot of emphasis put on the battle wave and things like that anymore. Before, you could almost be taken out of this game by losing a battle. Actually, people have been. It’s not like that anymore. People be over it. It’s cool. You take the L and go on. People forget about it. “Oh yeah, that happened, but whatever. Dope song.” [laughter] That’s how it goes. And it’s cool, it’s whatever.

So, at G.O.O.D., how come Kanye gets to make the decisions, then, if you’re the president?

As far as what?

Well, like… “No, this should be the album art. No, it should be seven tracks. No, I could do it better.”

I feel like there’s certain things that I personally don’t put as much emphasis on. I’m gonna say, “Listen. These verses are crack. Take this. This song is crack. I love it.” He’s definitely gonna be like, “OK, listen. I produced this, I want it to look a certain way. Why wouldn’t you let the DONDA staff do this?” And then he gets into that. By the time I have him fully engaged creatively, you want his genius. You definitely want his genius involved in your project. He’s really passionate about it.

I’m not passionate about art. Art like that. Like I said, it could’ve been a picture of my face, “Hey. It’s Daytona.” Bro, it’s like fire. I can’t wait it to get out. The picture? Leave me alone.

We’re talking about Kanye’s vision. G.O.O.D. Music was, slash is, Kanye’s vision.

For sure.

Why should people who are disappointed or angry at Kanye’s current vision of the world buy into G.O.O.D. Music’s vision right now?

I don’t know that. [laughter] We disagree. I don’t know. I feel like Kanye… He’s been a person who definitely tries to get his point across, right? At all costs. He’s willing to go through all types of hell and damnation to get his point across, and piss people off, and everything, if he believes that it’s gonna pay off in the end. I truly believe that everything that he thinks, and all of his views … He feels like, “Hey, it’s gonna pay off in the end.”

Even though we don’t agree, I personally know that… I know him. I know him, I know his heart. And I know that he’s… More so than anything, he’s all about making things better. Just for the world, for people, he’s about peace, he’s about giving people a shot. I’m not like that. But he is. When it comes to us and dealing in that, and the working dynamic of that, we just agree to disagree. And it’s not like I’m… It’s not an excuse to be made. He doesn’t want no excuses made for him either. He doesn’t. Like I wouldn’t. But I can just say that I know him personally, and I know that he is, and his mind is telling him, “Man, I need to go through these channels to sort of make these others things happen. And I’m willing to exercise that, and y’all can stone me.” But he’ll go for it like that.

What are you most proud of?

Right now? What am I most proud of? I had an awesome wedding the other day. So great. [applause] Listen, that even happened during the firestorm of everything. I’m just happy how everything has turned out this year: personally, musically, business-wise, for everybody at G.O.O.D. You guys get to watch the reality show. This is what it is, it’s real. Every aspect of it over here is real with us. We argue, we fight, we disagree. We make great music. We love it. I don’t know if everybody loves it. We do, though.

  • Interview
    Anupa Mistry
  • Images
    Courtesy of RBMA

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