Kanye West has referred to himself as "the greatest living rockstar on the planet," and it's exactly that kind of language that has made him, certainly, the most quotable rapper on the planet. Some Kanye-isms, as they are known, are so ingrained in the cultural lexicon that they're now part of the zeitgeist. "I'ma let you finish, but..." is forever burned into all of our brains. But for all his quotable words, there are some Kanye West quotes that just don't sound like Kanye, which can be unsettling because Yeezy is usually pretty consistent.
But alas, the 38-year-old rapper has a lot to say, and there is something to be said about keeping it surprising. Yeezy is always philosophizing, whether on Twitter (in rapid-fire), in interviews (rare), or on stage during his concerts or speeches, which is where he really shines. (My personal favorite Kanye speech is the one he gave at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.)
'Ye's got a very particular and recognizable style of language, but here are 11 quotes from Kanye that sound nothing like the Kanye we know and love. (Or hate. I don't know your life.)
1. When He Admitted His Ego Is A Flaw
For someone who calls himself Yeezus and has a song called "I Am A God (feat. God)", it's surprising that Kanye revealed that he was aware that his ego could hurt him.
"One of my biggest Achilles' heels has been my ego," he told the audience during a stream of consciousness style speech that ranged from the strange to the stranger at Oxford University in 2015. "And If I, Kanye West, can remove my ego, I think there's hope for everyone."
That is actually really inspiring, because it seems like Kanye's ego would be impossible to eliminate. But he shouldn't remove it completely — it's what makes Yeezy so Yeezy!
2. This Tweet About Homelessness
It's great that Kanye is taking up the very urgent issue of homelessness in America. But it really came out of nowhere and seems quite out of place on his timeline, sandwiched between a tweet about reworking the song "Wolves" from The Life of Pablo and one that read, "non-artist trying to grab the paintbrush..."
3. When He Shared His Love For Leo
Kanye's favorite movie star is, apparently, Leonardo Dicaprio. Who would have thought? I just can't imagine Kanye watching and enjoying The Revenant, but I do hope that he honors his boy one day by making a music video inspired by Romeo + Juliet.
4. When He Admitted He Was Wrong About Beck
Ah, the Beck moment. Yeezy seemed in good spirits when he poked fun at himself when he "faked" rushing the stage to interrupt Beck when the musician accepted the award for Album of the Year at the Grammys. But then there was the post-joke rant, where Kanye said Beck "wasn't a real artist." He said his quote was taken out of context, though, but the most un-Kanye thing he had to say on the matter was in an interview with The Breakfast Club about the incident was that he was wrong:
That was completely hypocritical… The other day I went to dinner and sat down with Taylor Swift, and, ironically, they were playing the Beck album. Maybe they did it on purpose so I could finally hear it. I was like, Man, this is kinda good. I ain’t even gonna lie… I got his number, and I was supposed to call him, but I keep forgetting.
That kind of sincere apology and admission that Beck is actually pretty good is very un-Kanye of Kanye. Although, the part where he says he kept forgetting to call Beck isn't out of character at all.
5. When He Said He's A Liar?
Or maybe that's what he wants us to think...? In 2013 in an interview with W Magazine while promoting his album with Jay Z, Watch The Throne, Kanye pulled out one of the greatest riddles of all time:
You should only believe about 90 percent of what I say. As a matter of fact, don’t even believe anything that I’m saying at all. I could be completely f*cking with you, and the world, the entire time.
Mind blown. Especially because Yeezy considers himself a deliverer of hard truths that the public can't handle, or, in 'Ye's own words: "I literally break the Internet with every truth I drop."
6. When He Said He Doesn't Read
And hey, that's fine. Not everyone has to be a bookworm. When Kanye himself published a conceptual book of philosophy in 2009, aptly called Thank You And You're Welcome, Reuters noted that West once reportedly said, "I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life." But Kanye does call himself a creative genius and most creative geniuses, self-proclaimed or not, do brag about being well-read. But Kanye has other things to brag about. (I, personally, would love a book to become sentient and give me an autograph.)
7. When He Made His Thoughts On Disney Clear
When Yeezy did an interview with The Breakfast Club in February 2015, he waxed poetic on his ambitions and dreams, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, his visions and philosophies, and a collab with Drake, among other things (it was a long, strange, amazing interview). But maybe the weirdest comment Kanye made was about Walt Disney. "In the same way Adidas supported me, I want Disney Imagineering to support my ideas," he said. Say what? Maybe it's because Kanye says he's this generation's Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. I would be thrilled to watch a Kanye West Disney/Pixar production.
8. When He Had This To Say About Coldplay
In 2010 Kanye made a pretty intense claim about Coldplay. He once told The Sun , "In 30 years, when Coldplay are old men, people will look back and say, 'These guys were more talented than The Beatles.' I have worked with Chris Martin, and the man is a genius. As a performer and a songwriter, he is on the same level as John Lennon." For someone who considers himself the ultimate arbiter of taste, this one is a puzzler.
9. When He Was A Somber Nihilist
If Kanye hadn't already made clear that he is not a reader, I would think he had been reading some Kierkegaard when he said, "Nothing in life is promised except death" in his Grammys' acceptance speech in 2005. It is like him to say something so random, but usually he seems to think he's a bit more immortal.
10. When He Said Money Couldn't Buy Happiness
In an e-book on Kanye called The World According To Kanye compiled by Herbert Liu, he shares some of Yeezy's many musings on money, including the time the rapper reportedly said, "So many people talk about their investments or how much money they have but there’s so many rich people who spend a lot of that trying to buy a piece of happiness." Which is actually sage wisdom, but it's a little watery coming from a guy who once solicited cash from Mark Zuckerberg on Twitter.
11. When He Wanted To Be A People-Pleaser
In 2016, Kanye is not exactly notorious for telling the public what they want to hear. But a decade ago, Yeezy told The Guardian, "People always say that you can't please everybody. I think that's a cop-out. Why not attempt it? 'Cause think of all the people you will please if you try."
Thank you Kanye, for totally being you even when you don't sound like you. It's easier to relate to Yeezy when he's contradicting himself. After all, he is large, and he does contain multitudes.