Last week, just a day before I was ceremoniously laid off from AOL Music, Talib Kweli joined me for a live chat via Google Hangout.
Among the many topics we discussed, there was some talk about his longtime friend and collaborator Kanye West. And according to Kweli, the whole ‘Kanye interrupts a show’ thing is not new. He’s been the victim of it himself, back when West was opening shows for him in the pre-College Dropout days.
“He would cut me off during my shows,” Kweli explained. “So when I see him do it to Taylor Swift, I’m like ‘Oh, that’s what he used to do to me. He literally would come on stage while I was rapping and stop the music and say, ‘Yo, I gotta kick this rhyme. And I would have to be like, ‘Yo, you can’t, this is my show.’ But that’s how passionate he is about the music.”
Not only that, but Ye’ would also occasionally opt to fly to shows over taking the tour bus, proving that the diva act that he’s become known for is not exactly new, either.
“Kanye used to do that, and then we would have to get on the tour bus to go to the next city and he would be in his room, and we’d be banging on his door and he’s not answering,” Kweli said. “He’d call me three hours later like, ‘What city are you in now?’ And then he would get on a plane, even though he got have just got out of bed and got on a tour bus, he would fly to the next city and meet us and apologize. It makes sense when you think about him as a person.”
Kweli feels that Kanye gets more negative criticism than he deserves.
“He’s done some things that have been looked at as arrogant, and I’m sure that he’s dealing with them,” he said. “And he’s done some things that he’s apologized for. He also said George Bush don’t care about black people. He’s also done some revolutionary things. At the end of the day those positives and negatives are what make him the great artist that he is. And I can tell you from first hand experiences that he didn’t change… The way he is now, he was like that before the money and the fame. He was talking about he was the best producer; ‘I’m the best rapper,’ ‘I’m the best dresser.’ His attitude was exactly the same.”
Also, he gives credit to ‘Ye for shining a light on the underground.
“Kanye is a champion of our culture and he’s somebody who’s driven the culture forward in such a way that it’s benefited all of us,” he said. “Like, me directly. I can speak for myself, Common, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, Rhymefest. All of us have benefited from Kanye West beats, from Kanye West talking about us, from Kanye West working on us. He elevated that brand of hip-hop to the mainstream…. He’s given his all. Kanye gives more than people. He’s given his entire being to hip-hop. We should be thankful and gracious that he gives us so much of himself.
Watch my interview with Talib Kweli