Spin has a fascinating year end look at Kanye West. 2007 again, turned out to be a very good year for the rap star, despite losing his mother and several dust ups that tainted his once clean image.
You made a conscious effort to shape Graduation for the next level of mainstream success? A conscious effort to take it to the next level in every form of success. More black people bought this album than any I’ve made.
Does that make sense to you? Uh-huh. Because I made the album blacker.
You think Graduation is blacker than The College Dropout? Way blacker. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” — how hood is that record? “Good Life” is straight Steve Harvey, all day long. “Flashing Lights”? I never had a record that was that black. But it’s white at the same time. Certain things are so good it doesn’t have to be white or black. That’s what Graduation is. Take “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” It’s a white sample, but everything I do to it is to make it as black as possible. So I’ma make the bass as black as possible; I’ma make the lyrics as intense as possible.
Are these choices strictly artistic, or are you thinking as a marketer, too? Can you separate those roles? I can’t. I’m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold’s for fried chicken. It’s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There’s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I’ma go get that. Like, on Christmas I don’t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don’t want my credit to look black. [Laughs]
Interesting how he has to deal with these realities, and despite his fame, I don’t think this is something I’d personally wanna have to straddle. If you become too “white,” well, you’re gonna lose your cred and vice versa. Strange world to inhabit and always have to be conscious of.