SPIN: You made a conscious effort to shape Graduation for the next level of mainstream success?
KANYE: A conscious effort to take it to the next level in every form of success. More black people bought this album than any I’ve made.
SPIN: Does that make sense to you?
KANYE: Uh-huh. Because I made the album blacker.
Things get blacker still after the jump.
SPIN: You think Graduation is blacker than The College Dropout?
KANYE: Way blacker. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” — how hood is that record? “Good Life” is straight Steve Harvey, all day long. “Flashing Lights”? I never had a record that was that black. But it’s white at the same time. Certain things are so good it doesn’t have to be white or black. That’s what Graduation is. Take “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” It’s a white sample, but everything I do to it is to make it as black as possible. So I’ma make the bass as black as possible; I’ma make the lyrics as intense as possible.
SPIN: Are these choices strictly artistic, or are you thinking as a marketer, too? Can you separate those roles?
KANYE: I can’t. I’m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold’s for fried chicken. It’s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There’s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I’ma go get that. Like, on Christmas I don’t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don’t want my credit to look black. [Laughs]
SPIN: And what foods would fall into that category?
KANYE: White-people food? You know what it is. You never ate fried chicken and said, “This tastes white.” It’s America. People know the stereotypes. I play to the stereotypes. I believe in the stereotypes. And I submit to them. [Affects a black, Southern accent] “Man, black people sure can cook some chicken! And I’ma get some black chicken.”
SPIN: Some of the samples — Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” — must not have been cheap. Could you have afforded them on the first two albums?
KANYE: I’ll tell you one thing, as a black person: We have no problem breaking ourselves for what we want. But it’s not just affording it; it’s getting people to want to clear something for you.
SPIN: You were only seven when Thriller peaked. Was Michael Jackson on your radar when –
KANYE: [Stares incredulously] Was Michael Jackson on my radar?! I’m black.
Jackson might’ve been on ‘Ye’s radar, but he didn’t do Mr. Collapsible Nose any favors with that bland-ass “Billy Jean” “remix.” In the interview he goes on to revisit his beef with MTV, who likes Justin Timberlake better ’cause he’s white, yadda yadda …. Hey, Grammy people, please award this dude something, so he can stop with this shtick. Cool? Harder, better, stronger in ’08, ‘Ye, you whiner. Wait, unless this is another SNL skit.