Melbourne, Australia October 2013
Photographed by Robin Harper
EK: I don’t know a ton of [members of 1D], but Harry Styles… he does this thing where he pretends that he’s Jewish, which I think is very funny.
CT: In what capacity?
EK: It’s really weird. I noticed this a while ago, kids would sometimes say to me, “Oh, you’re Jewish, just like Harry Styles. That’s real cool, because I like both of your bands.” And I’d be like, “That cat’s Jewish? Really? Whatever, who knows.” And then the other day, it was Yom Kippur, and he tweeted the night before [about fasting] and getting hungry by the time you sing “Kol Nidre,” which is like a very specific prayer you sing during the service the next day. So he tweeted this to his, like, millions of followers, and I was like, “What the f— does this mean!” And then I realized, he basically kind of just enjoys pretending to be Jewish. And I was like, you know what? I don’t remember, like, f—ing Lance Bass making weird jokes like that back in the day. So One Direction is cool, they make weird jokes. And you know what, their music… they have some good songs.
if you say you don’t like Kim Jongin’s bright smile, you’re lying.
My lawyer gives the same speech to everyone who wants to do business with me now. ‘Nicki is not one of those artists who allow her representatives to make decisions for her.’ I’m on conference calls all day with lawyers, accountants, and executives—people of power—and they treat me with respect. Because I command respect. I’m not cocky, but I deserve to know what’s going on. It’s my brand and my life. That’s my advice to women in general: Even if you’re doing a nine-to-five job, treat yourself like a boss. Not arrogant, but be sure of what you want—and don’t allow people to run anything for you without your knowledge. You want everyone to know, Okay, I can’t play games with her. I have to do right by this woman. That’s what it’s all about.
You wanna hear my history? I’m gonna fucking show you my history. There’s a lot of people here, who can empathize what is like to have a dad who became a banker, a lawyer, a judge, fucking whatever. And this is what happens to a kid whose dad went off to became a terrorist, and this is how it fucked up the family.
[I hate YouTube because] the player is so ugly, and it’s presented in such a terrible manner. I want everything I do to be presented in an art context, as this is a form of sonic art. I was an artist originally, I have been in art school since I was 5 years old. I got scholarships to three art schools, Art Institute of Chicago, Saint Xavier, and the American Academy of Art, where I ended up going—and I dropped out because I had an assignment where I was supposed to do an ink painting or something, and I would take two weeks to do it, and when I looked at my work, I just felt that I would never be one of the great visual artists of the world. I just felt like I would end up like—and this is no knock to anybody that does this—but I felt like I would end up working at an ad agency or something like that. I wanted to make something of impact. I found that when I would drop samples, my friends would react to it more. I felt that I had a real talent in chopping and appropriating music. What I want people to understand about sampling and producing is that it’s really similar to—and I know this is obvious what I’m going to say, because I’m a black guy so I’m gonna name the ‘most obvious artist in the world’—Warhol, but it’s very similar to the way Warhol would appropriate a Campbell’s Soup can is the way I would sonically appropriate a Ray Charles sample or a Michael Jackson sample. Right now it’s a fight against the separation and constant dumbing down of culture, and I’m standing in the middle of it. So if you know what people say are my lowest moments, those moments where I sat and saw them try to dumb down culture, and I would not allow it to happen on my clock. So when I used to go to fashion shows with my boys and we’d be eight deep, it was almost like a civil rights, like a sit-in. They wouldn’t even let us in. They had no idea what rap would mean to this world, what rap would mean to the art world. Before the Kendrick Lamars and the A$AP Rockys, it was Kanye West in a hotel room at the Le Maurice getting a ‘no, no, no, no’ to every single fashion show. But I thought it was so important to get close to the artists who worked so hard on making a usable form of art—like this furniture right here, like everything that is in all these rooms that inspire us so much—and I fight in my position of being a very commercial celebrity boyfriend, I fight to push culture forward every chance I get. And I only frown because paparazzi ask me dumbass shit all the time, and I think about changing the world, and I think about what I can do to make things better. And, without further ado, I want to play you guys my new album. It’s called Yeezus.