Tuesday night, Kanye West put on what was probably the concert of the year at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City: He ran through My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy front to back, bringing out Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and other guests to reprise their parts. (Photo via Kirill Was Here.)
But no matter how awesome that show was as a musical experience, it’s virtually guaranteed to be overshadowed by the rant afterward, which was a dose of the vintage, bracingly honest Kanye. Jay Smooth linked up some audio of the rant that Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt grabbed; I also made an MP3 of the full rant audio and have uploaded it for you to download, if you care.
I’ve transcribed that audio in full after the jump, and YouTube footage of the rant is embedded as well.
I wanna thank everybody for coming out this evening, first of all, and supporting me. Everybody that got in the building tonight.
As you know, it’s been a extremely hard year for me. But it felt so good to give back music, week after week after week, and just get back into the studio doing what we do, with G.O.O.D. Fridays, with new albums. Uh, yeah.
And I wanna thank all of they — I never thought I’d ever say this — I would like to thank the magazines, for perfect scores across the board.
I always felt like I could do anything, but now … I feel so fearless, like, to do an album, right, after the year that I had, and after all the “Your career is over!” and “Die, nigger, die!” and “You’ll never make music again!” And to come back and to do 100,000 the first day, digital alone, to do, to be slated to do 600,000 in the first week — and I, I don’t talk about the numbers, but what that number says is that people want me to keep making music, and for me to not give up. No radio singles. No number-one record, no top-ten record. They had to re-order, they didn’t order enough — We sold out in Chicago! It’s sold out at Best Buy on 14th Street tonight! They sold out! They said, “Oh, you ain’t got no radio singles, so, uh, we estimate 250,000 the first week” or “What about the fact that we just don’t like you?”
But I ain’t here for, to do no motherfuckin’ politics. I’m here to make music. I’m not here to talk in no motherfuckin’ interviews, nobody ask me no stupid-ass questions. We had such a great win. Matt Lauer is not a bad guy, I’m sure. But, if you are a child that’s being abused by your parent, or you’re a girl being abused by your boyfriend, the greatest win that you could ever have is when that person’ll hit you in public! “You see! You see! I told you!” ‘Cause every time I went on stage, there was no way to justify it. There was no way for me to justify it. Play the chords lower, play the chords lower. Play the chords lower.
There was no way for me to justify the way people judge me. When you do things like what happened last year, it’s disrespectful to everyone that’s creative. It’s a smack in the face to everyone who tries to do something real. If I wasn’t drunk, I would’ve been on stage longer. Like, “Am I the only one who’s not crazy here? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?” And then they run with it, they run with it, the reason why — and don’t call me tellin’ me about what I should do! I’m my own man! Sometimes you scream on a nigga, sometimes you gotta come back and say, “You know how I screamed on you that time? My bad.”
‘Cause look at this: Everybody wants to use people, and villainize people, even if you take the concept of George Bush. There is no leader in history that has been villainized that way, and didn’t get killed at war or commit suicide. So any man that lives through it deserves one moment of redemption. Any man. Because at the end of the day, we are all … none are without flaw. The thing is people point the fingers, the projections, the shit that people write on blogs, is a projection of what they feel or what they scared about in themselves, that they wanna project through the people who are on TV.
And now we are mere surfaces of the energy that they are projecting on us.
Everybody needs a villain, don’t we? We need to blame someone at all times. And for me, to be a considered, a racist for stating a bla — a blatant truth, an obvious truth! But the nuances of my words, because I am very particular with my words, and the emotion that I felt at that time, wasn’t worded exactly right.
But everybody came and said, “Oh my God!” — I’m talking about five years ago, I’m not talking about a year ago, I’m talking about five years ago, I’m talking about Katrina — and everybody said, “Oh my God, Kanye! I love you so much! I hated you until you said that! Now you’re speaking for me! I always thought you were an asshole, but now you said something that represents me!” — And the whole time, I’m thinking in my mind, “That’s not exactly what I wanted to say.” I was emotional, that was not exactly the way I wanted to word it. But I rode it, I rode it. Just as Taylor never came to my defense in any interview, and rode the wave, and rode it, and rode it, that’s the way I rode the wave of the Bush comment. I rode it.
It’s not about popular opinion, it’s about when you look in your heart and know what’s right and what’s wrong. When you look in your heart, look at what the media did, look at how they exploited him! They said that he said that was his lowest moment, and as a mass, as America, we took that as a fact. If you look at the interview, he said it’s one of his lowest moments, and he said it about ten different things!
But because the popularity of me, they exploited that! To make you watch the interview, and make you feel he was stupider than ever! To think that a rapper’s comment could be his lowest moment! That’s not what he fucking said! That’s not what he said! He said it’s one of his lowest moments!
But it shows you, it showed you what, the way they try to fill a night, the way they try to do that. Everything would’ve been okay if they didn’t play the audio that day. None the wiser! None the wiser! They played the audio, they fucked up in front of everybody. They fucked up big-time.
If you’re a real artist, have no fear. Say what the fuck you want, do what you want, make what you want! And if it’s meant to be, the people will stand up. Like the people stood for me this week. 600,000, comin’ off being the most hated person this time last year. And thank you so much for the energy from the streets, the energy from the blogs, the energy from the reporters, the energy from the actors, from the comedians, from the writers, from the fashion designers, from the models — oh, the energy of the models. From the energy of the subway workers, from the doorman, to the cabdriver, to the schoolteacher, the energy — that’s the energy that you feel right now. That’s what happens when you speak from what people are really, really goin’ through. I can’t be your role model, I can’t be your savior, I can’t be your Antichrist. I don’t know what the fuck Illuminati is. I like clothes and I still like girls, I don’t give a fuck what you think.
And on that note, I love y’all, and all my family that came out that helped me with the album, that came through tonight, flying in, private jets, everything they had to do to get here. Everybody in the audiences, that sat through this whole thing, I know y’all gotta wake up in the morning. Thank you so much, I love you. Good night.