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Kanye West Says His ‘Calling Is to Be the Leader of the Free World’ in Three-Hour Joe Rogan Interview

Kanye West on Joe Rogan's podcast
Courtesy of Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube

Kanye West talked about his work as a “pastor,” music industry contracts, his fashion line and his “calling to be the leader of the free world,” which he said came to him in the shower, in a three-hour long, free-associative interview with podcaster Joe Rogan that was released Saturday — and that’s in just the first half hour.

He also suggested that Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Prince and Bruce and Brandon Lee had been murdered, among other claims.

He also made a reference to Taylor Swift that could be misinterpreted. Speaking of his father’s work as a member of the Black Panther political party, he said, “It’s like my father snatching a mic out of someone’s hand who was lying — like father, like son, there,” he laughed, referring to him grabbing the mic from Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

Speaking uninterrupted for long stretches and peppering his comments with mentions of his notable friends and pop-culture references from “Tron” to “Maleficent” to “The Incredibles,” West continued his tendency to make a provocative statement and then quickly move to a seemingly unrelated subject. (The following quotes have been edited to eliminate digressions.)

“There couldn’t be a better time to put a visionary in the captain’s chair,” he said. “I’m not here to down Trump or down Biden, I’m just here to express why God has called me to take this position. I’m a great leader because I listen and I’m empathetic. I do believe in world peace.”

Regarding the music business, he said, “I’m not at war with the music industry. I’m just saying we need to innovate. When I posted my contracts, I had ten contracts that kept putting me inside a labyrinth and things we don’t need.

“Prince would say we don’t need the distribution part,” he continued. “I’m the kind of person where I’m not trying to eliminate anyone’s job. There’s a way both parties can be happy. These deals can be flipped in a way that they’re just more fair.”

He said his father had told him the music industry was a bad business, and found that perspective to be true.

“Everyone’s a part of it, everyone’s responsible, everyone’s a part of the problem,” he said. “The contracts are made to rape the artists. This is a negative thought I’m putting into the universe — but I thought about Bruce and Brandon Lee. This is Sony and Universal and I’m willing to put the blue paint on my face and go out and do this because it’s the right thing to do.

“Michael Jackson, Prince, all of these things have crossed my mind as I’m saying I need to innovate what these contracts are, it’s not about me getting my masters back, it’s about freedom.”

“At this point music loses me money,” he said. “Of my $5 billion net worth, music is negative $4 million.”

He also spoke at length about his work in religious music. “I stepped away from my music career for a year to serve God,” he said. “When I made [his Sunday Service sessions], I completely stopped rapping because I didn’t know how to rap before God.”

Rogan accused an unspecified “they” — presumably medical professionals and family members — of trying to “kill genius” by placing West on medication. He asked West what medication felt like.

“It destroyed my confidence, made me a shell, glazed over my eyes, it made the mustang not buck anymore,” West replied. “They told me I was bipolar and I remember going on TMZ and saying slavery was a choice, and they medicated me for having that opinion and saying it out loud. But when I put those [music] contracts up I’m saying that was a choice.”

Rogan also flattered West to the point of obsequiousness about his thought processes, saying that when people accused West of ranting, Rogan countered by describing the statements as “all-encompassing thoughts.”

“When I talk, it’s not a rant,” West said. “It’s a symphony of ideas. I just tell the truth and telling the truth is crazy in a world full of lies.”

Watch the full interview below.