It’s hard to remember a time when Kanye West was not a rapper, sitting at the top of the hip-hop world.
In a new interview, the 36-year-old artist talked about the near-fatal 2002 car crash that changed his life forever, turning him from successful producer and songwriter into the prolific Grammy-winning rapper he is today.
“The accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do,” West told Interview magazine’s February issue. “I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, ‘Hey, I need some time to recover.’”
“But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making ‘The College Dropout,’” West said about his first album, including the hit “Through the Wire,” which he rapped while his jaw was still wired shut. “Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction–so many people I somehow owed something to–and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.”
These days, West wants to be known for so much more than his music. A trained visual artist, he has strayed into fashion and has started a new design company, called Donda, after his late mother Donda West. It was while describing his new company that West caught flak for comparing himself to Apple innovator Steve Jobs.
In Interview, West clarified what he meant: “[I] think that when I compare myself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, or whoever, it’s because I’m trying to give people a little bit of context to the possibilities that are in front of me, as opposed to putting me in the rap category that the Grammys has put me in. In no way do I want to be the next any one of them. But I am the first me. So I only mention those other names to try to give people a little bit of context.”
West also revealed to interviewer Steve McQueen, the Oscar-nominated director of “12 Years a Slave,” that “god, sex, and alcohol” got him through the onslaught of negative publicity that followed after he crashed the MTV VMA stage in 2009 while Taylor Swift was accepting an award.
West is in a much happier place, these days, with fiance Kim Kardashian and their daughter North West. Opening up about fatherhood and being in love, West told Interview, “It’s all brand new, how it feels to be a father. There are some things that I understand, certain things that I don’t understand, certain things that I like to get off my chest in interviews, certain things that I want to talk about. But when we talk about love, I don’t have an answer. All I can say is that I’m happy I have it.”