Kanye West: Hip-Hop's 'Creative Genius'

"I think the paper is just a middle man," he said. "You know, because at the end of the day it's like your concept, and you're trying to get the purest form to the fans, and it's like you don't want to read it wrong and forget the pattern that you had. ... Half of it is what you say and half of it is how you say it."

Despite West's gift for writing and producing music, his street credibility, or lack thereof, has been questioned by many in the industry.

"What makes you credible?" Kanye asked. "That you supposedly had shot someone? Rap music is about hardships. That's what it's fueled by. And I think it's all different forms of going through hardships."

"You know, people just dealing with their boss, that's hard," he said. "Going to work everyday, sitting in traffic and it's 45 minutes. That's hard. Commuting, taking the train sometimes, that's hard ... and I figure out how to rap about those hardships. And that's the reason why I connected to so many more people than the average rapper."

Kanye's Hardships and Religion

West has also had his share of hardships. In the fall of 2002, he was driving and fell asleep behind the wheel. He nearly died and broke his mouth in three different places.

"I mean, a lot of the best music comes from pain, it comes from life experiences," he said. "And I had been rapping, but nothing interesting has really happened to me. As you can see in the rap game, one of the best things that can happen to a rapper is for them to almost die."

This was a defining moment for West, and affected not only his music but his faith. He views the accident as a blessing. After the crash, he was forced to have his mouth wired shut, and chose that time to write and record a hit single, "Through the Wire."

"Even though the steering wheel, you know, broke my mouth in three different places, it was like ... He made it happen for a reason," West said. "I think God was like 'Yo, I need to use you. And you're going to have a big voice, but nobody cares about you. So, let me do something to make people care a little bit.'"

'I Know When We're Using the Black Card'

Despite his religion and his role as a mainstream rapper, West shares some social views that are not mainstream within those groups. The recently engaged rapper has been outspoken in accepting homosexuals, while many in the rap community remain critical of that lifestyle.

He was prepared for the critics.

"Well, a lotta people did exactly what I thought they would do: [They said] 'Oh, you must be gay,'" he said. "So, what you're tellin' me is ... you can't understand or accept someone for who they are unless you are that, which is the stupidest statement ever."

"I can't let my message be deterred by someone's ignorance," he continued. "Gay people ... all of my friends been dissing the hell outta you. And most of us wouldn't even know about the culture, the lifestyle, you know?"

West also notices a double standard in how African-Americans can use race as a weapon.

"Like how black people can do the 'white words,'" he said, in reference to how African-Americans can imitate whites. "But you can't do the black words. I look at it from both sides. I know when we're usin' the black card."

However, one area where West doesn't differ with other popular rappers is his large ego. West is very competitive and he doesn't like losing at award shows, a topic that came to light at last week's Emmy awards.

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