Kanye West sounds off on Trump, Obama and Kim Kardashian West

PHOTO: Kanye West performs during the closing ceremony for the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Ceremonies Venue in Toronto, Canada, July 26, 2015.PlayMatt Detrich/USA TODAY via Reuters
WATCH Kanye West speaks out on politics, slavery and more

Kanye West is back to being himself.

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In a nearly two-hour interview posted to his YouTube page, the rapper and fashion designer sounded off on everything from his 2016 breakdown to his feelings about politics to his feud with longtime friend Jay-Z.

In his conversation with media personality Charlamagne tha God, the 40-year-old said that he is stronger than ever before and in a place to affect real change.

"I always was. It's my place in the universe, I've just been distracted," he said.

Later, West went to "TMZ," where he engaged in a conversation with the newsroom there.

His main takeaways from those discussions included:

His 2016 breakdown: In late 2016, West was hospitalized after he displayed erratic behavior on his Saint Pablo tour. He told Charlamagne tha God that the breakdown -- or as he calls it, the breakthrough -- could be attributed to "fear," "stress," "being controlled" and several scarring events that took place shortly beforehand. For starters, West was frustrated that his album "Life of Pablo" wasn't seeing more radio play, which he believes may have something to do with the dust-up he had with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. "Ever since the Taylor Swift moment, it's never been the same," he said. "It was much harder after that." Another factor, he added, was his wife, Kim Kardashian West, being held up at gunpoint in Paris, and a third was the backlash he received at a 2016 Yeezy fashion show. "I was 45 minutes late and they LeBron'd me. Remember when LeBron [James] went to Miami? They killed him and burned his jersey," West said. "I felt like it was the fashion community getting the right to say n----- without saying it."

The Paris robbery: About a year and a half ago, Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint during her stay in a Paris apartment. West, who was performing at the time of the incident, said that the situation made him feel "helpless." "One of the things that she heard is that they were coming to rob her and they had to wait until I left," he said. "If she wasn't here [today] I would never forgive myself." Now, he said that he and Kardashian West are careful not to keep any valuables on-hand so as not to attract unwanted attention. "My wife doesn't even wear big diamonds anymore. We don't keep no jewelry, no money in the house, no name high art. None of that," he said. "We don't keep none of that any place where our kids stay."

His feud with Jay-Z: Prior to his breakdown, West ranted about Jay-Z on stage, and then a few months later, Jay-Z rapped of West, "You give him $20 million without blinking / He gave you 20 minutes onstage, f--- what was he thinking?" West clarified that when he was in debt, Jay-Z, whom he considers to be family, actually co-signed a touring deal from Live Nation, and the money actually came from the company. He didn't understand that at first. "Have you ever did something for someone that was positive, but something about the way you did it blue the whole thing up? Jay did something that was positive, but the fact that I didn't receive the information in the right way [muddied the water]," he said. "I always feel like, I'm out here in Hollywood, my mom has passed, I don't know who I can trust. I can't trust nobody."

West also implied that the feud was a long time coming, noting that he was hurt that Jay-Z and Beyoncé skipped his 2014 nuptials. "I understand they were going through some things," he acknowledged, "but if it's family, you're not gonna miss a wedding."

His struggle with opioids: West told TMZ that he was addicted to drugs in the days preceding his hospitalization. “I had plastic surgery because I was trying to look good for y’all. I got liposuction because I didn’t want y’all to call me fat like y’all called Rob [Kardashian] at the wedding and made him fly home before me and Kim got married," he said. "They gave me opioids." West's mother, Donda, died in 2007 after undergoing plastic surgery.

Life after the breakdown: After his release from the hospital, West found himself, for the first time ever, devoid of confidence. "I never had the empathy for people that lacked confidence. I had so much of it, I didn't know what it was like to be without it," he said. "I was placed into this simulation and I completely could be molded and controlled."

No longer, he said. Noting that he treats "the world as my therapist," he added that he has been taking medication. "It's an imperfect solution," he said of taking unspecified drugs. "There's power in being controlled and calm."

His relationship with former President Barack Obama: West said that Obama met with him and his mother before he ran for office "because I am his favorite artist of all time." ("I am the greatest artist of all time. It makes sense! He's got good taste," he added.) So, when Obama later called him a "jackass" for storming the stage during Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, West felt betrayed. "I'm your favorite. But I'm not safe. But that's why you love me. So just tell me you love me! And tell the world you love me. Don't tell the world I'm a jackass," he said. "You know, he never called me to apologize. The same person who sat down with me and my mom, I think should have communicated with me directly." However, he's not harboring any ill will. "I love Obama," West added. "I'm sure we'll hang out, go to Richard Branson's island, whatever, it'll be cool. I just think we were in a period where he had so much stuff to deal with, he couldn't deal with a wildcard like me."

His feelings toward President Donald Trump: "I'm not a traditional thinker. I'm a non-conformist. So [Trump's presidency] relates to the non-conformist part of me," West explained. "But I'm also a producer. I like to segue things. I like to take 'Otis,' chop it up. So what's the 'Ye version? The 'Ye version is the Trump campaign and maybe the Bernie Sanders principles. That would be my mix."

West also saw Trump's victory as validating -- a sign that perhaps anything really is possible. "What we're doing in fashion to me being the kid with the pink Polos to me being outspoken, to me being ostracized because of the Taylor Swift thing or the George Bush thing or who I'm dating, who I'm marrying, what I'm talking about ... all of this is an outsider thing," he said. "When I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that."

Why the new $20 bill made him want to invest in cryptocurrency: Noting that the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill was what made him want to buy bitcoin, West explained that he doesn't want to live in the past. "We definitely are dealing with racism [in the present] but I want to push future concepts," he said. "When you see all the slave movies, it's like, 'Why you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? Why don't you put Michael Jordan on the $20 bill?'"

His thoughts on slavery: "When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," West told TMZ staffers. "Like, you was there for 400 years and it's all of y'all?"

Van Lathan, a TMZ employee, was outraged. "While you are making music ... and living the life that you've earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with ... the marginalization that's come from the 400 years that you said, for our people, was a 'choice,'" he said. "I'm disappointed. I'm appalled." Later, West apologized to Lathan for hurting him.

His return to Twitter: For the past year, West stayed mostly quiet online, because, he explained, "I didn't have a lot to say." That changed recently. "Right now, you'll document where I'm at, I felt the need to speak," he said. "I'm not trying to say the right thing, I'm just saying exactly what I feel out of love."

Why his career goals have changed: Currently, West is working to make Yeezy a billion-dollar brand (eventually, he hopes that it becomes a "relief company" that aids in disaster recovery) and attempting to become "one of the biggest real estate developers of all time." However, he's past the point of ever accepting a job opportunity that would take him away from his wife and their three children. "For what? Family is your most important currency," he said. "I'm trying to get as much family close to me as possible. That's one reason why Kim won't end up in a hospital. She's got a family close."

Candace C. Smith contributed to this report.