Kanye West's Wednesday night sit-down with Jimmy Kimmel ostensibly ended a "feud" between the two celebrities who had sparred on Twitter earlier in the month, but considering Kimmel as an important part of that conversation is giving the host too much credit.
The bigger takeaways from the evening were made in spite of Kimmel, who was really only there to pepper West with compliments, ask stupid questions ("Are those new grills?") and interrupt West's cogent points with pseudo-mocking babble (example: When West was discussing the lack of diversity in the fashion world, all Kimmel had to offer was a joke about Steve Harvey's suits).
Quick background: West was enraged in late September over a Kimmel parody of the rapper's interview with BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe. In that original interview, West spoke at length about the battles he faced in the fashion industry, why he feels his misunderstood and the values he's trying to promote. Kimmel's sketch simply replaced West with a child who read the rapper's words. Feeling mocked for having been rendered as a boy, West called Kimmel and then took to Twitter to deliver a stream-of-consciousness series of thoughts that ranged from insightful to ad hominem. As West said Wednesday, "We took it back to high school."
Below are 15 insightful and/or quick-witted comments West made during his appearance on Twitter. A full transcript is available over at Buzzfeed:
1. "What I was trying to express in the interview was me, I know I’m hip-hop and I’m a rapper and everything but I’ve got ideas that can mean something if I can put the proper production around them."
2. "But currently in fashion, there's no black guy at the end of the runway in Paris, in all honesty."
3. "But Michael Jackson had to fight to get his videos on MTV because he was considered to be urban. So for me, think about this, when I’m in Paris and I’m sitting in fashion week for nine years and South Park makes fun of our outfits or people don’t understand why I’m there and I’m getting called names, stuff you can’t even say on TV, and I still can’t break that wall down, at a certain point it’s like Michael Jackson trying to get his videos on."
4. "My grandfather drove the first cars in the marches just to get clean water and one of the parallels i want to do for you is Richard Pryor always just wanted a clean plate, he just wanted to serve his stuff up on a clean plate. So if I do an interview in W Magazine and they take all these classist shots at me — because it’s not about racism anymore, it’s classist, like Paula Deen she was old school, we don’t do it like that anymore, we’re classist. So the classism is what they try to do is to say ‘You’re a rapper or your girl’s on a reality show so you’re not up here with us, we’re old money.’ I’m not into all that snobbery, because we have the loudest voice, we have the loudest communication, and all we want to do is make awesome stuff. All we want is a real shot."
5. "Then a lot of people say you have to do music. I’ll keep doing music, but what if people told me I couldn’t rap, what if people told me I couldn’t perform. I’m only 36 years old, I have other goals and other things and I’m going to use my platform, every platform, to stand up and say, 'I want to make something.'"
6. "People don’t stand up and protect their dreams, people are too scared of getting spoofed, in a way."
7. "There were moments where I stood up to drug dealers in Chicago, I said, 'You can’t have my publishing, come and kill me, do what you’re gonna do but you’re not gonna bully me, you’re not gonna stop me.' Because my mother made me believe in myself… No matter how many people tell me, 'Stop believe in yourself, stop saying what you can do, stop affirming what you can do and completing that in real life.'"
8. "I refuse to follow those rules that society has set up and the way they control people with low self-esteem, with improper information, with branding, with marketing. I refuse to follow those rules. It’s about truth, it’s about information, it’s about awesomeness, and the only luxury is time, the time you spend with your family."
9. "The concept of luxury is foreign to me. With Nike, with Apple? Did you know there were phones that cost $4,000? ... There are people who spend $5,000 on this bag, $10,000 on this, to say what I said before, to say ‘We’re better than you.'"
10. "I mean, taste, culture, art, just the quality of life, this is what I’m here to do. So when I compare myself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, David Stern, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Jesus, whoever it is, I say these are my heroes, these are people that I look up to, this is the type of impact I want to make on the Earth."
11. "And now as a celebrity, I’ve reached a ceiling."
12. "The way paparazzi talk to me and my family is disrespectful also. We bring something of joy to the world. When people hear my music they have a good time and I should be respected as such when I walk down the street. Don’t ask me a question about something you read in the tabloids, don’t antagonize me, because it’s not safe for you in the zoo. Don’t think that I’m not from Chicago for one second and think you can walk up and disrespect me and my family constantly. People say, 'Well, you signed up to be a celebrity, blah blah blah,' and I understand you gotta get your money, it’s hard out here, but let’s have respect for each other."
13. "People told me I couldn’t rap. People had all this advice for me. And I wouldn’t even say I’m a rapper, I’m more of a messenger than a rapper. So even when you say rap beef it undermines it, and keeps re-contexting what I said."
14. [In response to Kimmel suggesting West was sitting on the toilet when tweeting at him:] "Yes, that's where I think of my best shit."
15. "So when I come on here, I can laugh and joke, and people can say, 'OK, we love Kanye' or 'we think his baby is cute' or whatever ... but for me, it’s bigger than who I am in my presence, living. It’s about when I was on Earth, what did I do to help?"
At the end of the day, as West himself said ("My grandfather loved Ali until he died, and my grandmother hated Ali ’til she passed. So you are going to love me, or you're going to hate me, but I'm going to be me"), plenty of people have already decided what side of the fence they are on when it comes to his ego, his personality and his place as a creative. But on Wednesday, the man with more Grammys than Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and Yo Yo Ma delivered a powerful reflection on his own ambitions, society's understanding of celebrity and how race relations in this country inflect our understanding of both.