My Favorite Quotes From Kanye West’s 2005 Interview With Charlie Rose

Notes:

Neil: This interview was recorded in the year where everything was finally going right for Kanye West, when he’s finally getting recognized for his elite talent. His energy is equal parts relief, confidence, and excitement here. Like many elite performers, Kanye’s motivation and frustration is driven by the gap between how he sees himself and how others perceive his work. Our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses – has anyone ever competed at the power and intensity of Kanye West? It’s worth celebrating that greatness in all its forms.

Quotes:

Charlie Rose: “10 Grammy nominations… Who is it that you would like to say, “I told you so. I told you so. I told you so?
Kanye West: “Oh man, the list is so long, I don’t know where to start… So I’ll start with my gym teacher back in high school who I told her freshman year I was about to get a deal and take Kris Kross out and then she came to me senior year like ‘what happened to your record deal?’ Or do I tell like all the label execs who said ‘who’s gonna believe a rapper who dresses like Carlton?’”

Kanye West: “If you put your heart into something and you had a grasp of what was really good and you knew you delivered a good product, you have the right to defend your product after people criticize it.

Kanye West: “They evoke a certain emotion, they raise your spirits, any situation you’re going through.
From Spaceship:
I’ve been working this grave-shift
And I ain’t made it
I wish I could
Buy me a spaceship and fly

Kanye West: “In the future, I don’t know if I’d be able to make anything like this, because this was my healing process. This was my rehabilitation CD.”

Charlie Rose: “And you worry about whether you can do it again?
Kanye West: “Yeah, I’m always worried, but I just have to keep making good music, the best music I can. I can even get more skilled, but the whole thing is to always have that heart. Because it’s not about… people might be better programmers, better rappers, but the way I think I really won is I had the heart. I had the heart to survive through it.

Kanye West: “I always tell people, College is a choice. High school is a necessity.” A lot of times people got to school because it’s what their parents want them to do. They’re chasing someone else’s dream.

Kanye West: “If you’re picking out Christmas gifts and you have $500 and you got this list and you know exactly what you want to get. People go to school and they’re spending $8,000, $10,000, $15,000 a year and they have no idea what they want. Just stop. Just stop. Wait a second before you sign all those loans, before you put yourself in debt for the rest of your life. And say, ‘what do I want to do with my life?’

Kanye West: “You need plumbers. You need electricians. There’s a lot of people that make the same thing or more than people with college degrees, and ultimately it’s about being happy, having a happy life.”

Kanye West: “Don’t just drop out of school. Like I was already making money in the music industry. I had a platinum plaque before I dropped out of school. And I had a deal on the table with Columbia, with Sony.”

Kanye West: “Kanye means ‘the only one.’ It’s kind of appropriate.

Kanye West: “He explained how these songs, they have hidden agendas and connotations even though it seems like they’re talking about live.”

Kanye West: “Jesus Walks is a trick. They told me it would never be played on a radio, so the second verse is reverse psychology for program directors:
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, videotape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?

Kanye West: “People go and speak to kids and it’ll be that one speaker that comes in and he actually says a curse word. That curse word sparks everybody’s attention and right when everybody’s open, he gives you all this information, he sneaks it in. And that’s kind of what I did.

Kanye West: “I don’t fear death… Because of the accident. I feel like I’m here to do a job. And when my job is finished, I’ll go home… I’ll go to heaven.”

Kanye West: “What do I fear? Just fear of being wack, fear of not having an idea, because at that point I’ll be dead. My ideas are my air. I breathe creativity.

Charlie Rose: “Was there a void there, and you just drove through the void?
Kanye West: “I was like the boxing coach, sitting there watching all the other boxers in the ring. I’m like ‘Just go to the gut. Just go to the gut.’ And nobody goes for the gut… And I’m like the person they never say could be a boxer all week and everything in comparison. But I just get in that ring and hit people dead in the gut. Meaning, you know, speak straight from my soul.

Kanye West: “I’m not that good of a rapper. I mean I’m getting pretty nice… I’m no Jay-Z. I’m no Nas. But I’ve got a niche. I got my thing… I can talk. I can talk to the peoples’ soul… and I’m kind of like, me and Dave Chappelle blew up at the same time, we’re the exact same person almost… because we talk about real issues. We talk about racism, and we put a twist of humor on it, so people, they want to accept it.

Kanye West: “I’ll be 60, 70, 80 years old, still doing conferences, still doing what I can to help young kids, whether it’s in music, whether it’s film, whether it’s just motivation, kids that don’t have fathers, like I feel like I’m a father to a lot of people. My music speaks to them, it’s a male role model to a lot of kids that don’t have a father. Now that I see that I’m successful, it’s my responsibility to help as many people as I can.”

Kanye West: “Any time I’m around him (Jay-Z), I just try to ask him as many questions as possible… like how did you get all that money?”
Charlie Rose: (Creepy Voice) “Beyonce
KW: “Yeah, and how’d you get Beyonce? (Laughs) No, but I’ll ask him… “How did you keep her? How did you run this company?

Kanye West: “These are my role models. I’m just a genius-in-training.

Charlie Rose: “What I hear from you is a guy who really does pay attention, you know, and there’s a laser-like focus on what everybody else is doing, you know, and your appetite to learn and see how you can translate your own experience is central to who you are.”

Kanye West: “I always tell people ‘I dropped out of school in order to learn.’

Kanye West: “If you want to be a doctor, go to college. Do something. Use school. Don’t let it use you. It’s big business.

Charlie Rose: “Is there any limit to your ambition?”
Kanye West: “No.”
CR: “Or any limit to what you think you can achieve?”
KW: “No. Well… No. Because I think right now, if I was to quit rapping and I say I want to go to the NBA, I would be in the NBA.
CR: “No you wouldn’t.”
KW: “Yes.”
CR: “No you wouldn’t.”
KW: “Yes I would.”
CR: “No you wouldn’t.”
KW: “Yes I would.”
CR: “Why would you think you could make it to the NBA?”
KW: “Cuz I think I can do anything… My talent is the ability to learn. If I could play you the tracks that I had when I was, you know, in seventh grade, and compare that to a Jesus Walks, All Falls Down, Stand Up, Overnight Celebrity… if I could play you that right now and show you that track, and I’ll go out and shoot a jump shot right now — and miss it, yeah, it’s the same thing as how my tracks were right back… Anything in life that you put your mind to, you can do. The world is your oyster.”

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Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is a scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. He is the founder & CEO of Air to All, a nonprofit medical device startup designing low-cost respirators and ventilators for COVID-19 and beyond. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Labdoor, a consumer watchdog that independently tests and ranks supplements and other health products for its 20M+ users. He was previously co-founder and President of Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor and State Representative in Michigan. He received his BBA (Entrepreneurship) and BS (Cellular & Molecular Biology) from the University of Michigan in 2010. Neil lives in Michigan with his wife Shoua, sons Kai (3) and Ajay (1), and dogs Zeus (12) and Pluto (11). He is also a (very) amateur hockey player and drummer.