Charlamagne: Why do you talk so much about money nowadays? I used to look at you like a real revolutionary. Real revolutionaries didn’t need money to change the world. Malcolm X wasn’t rich, Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t rich. I don’t understand why everything is so much about money.
Kanye: Because you need product. You need something to have a voice.
Charlamagne: But you already got a voice. When you got on stage and said ‘George Bush doesn’t like black people’ you were using your voice. You don’t need to own something to have a voice.
Kanye: I can use my voice but what happens if y’all don’t buy anymore albums? People will say he was like Arsenio Hall and he’s turning up too much so now you fired. But when you got money, can’t nobody fire you.
Charlamagne: No, you know what makes me buy your albums? The great music you produce. You know what not makes me buy your albums? This new narcissistic, egotistical personality you got. That’s what turns me off. It makes me say, ‘I’m not going to his show, I don’t want to hear him rant, I’m not buying his records.’
Kanye: [Five Percent jargon] Your last name is ‘Tha God’ right? Anybody that’s a God can recognize a God right?
Charlamagne: [Five Percent jargon] And Gods have to keep other Gods on point, right? You seem like you not on your square.
Kanye: Keep me on point brotha.
Kanye: People say you can do it on your own, but it’s industries. These industries have been set up like the coal industry, like the music industry, like the newspaper industry…clothing, manufacturing, electricity. There’s something different to the way these billionaires run the world and we are not a part of that. We’ve only been let in on a communication level. It’s a new form of cotton that we all picking. You communicate in radio every day. I’m communicating in music every day. But what I’m trying to tell y’all is ain’t none of us free. Ain’t none of us billionaires. Billionaires, they don’t care—
Charlamagne: You don’t have to be a billionaire to be free, Ye. Stop equating freedom to money, my brotha. Where did that mentality come from?
Kanye: It come—*stumped, he smiles and takes a moment*
Charlamagne: Why are you equating freedom to money? Money is not what makes us free as people, man.
Kanye: They would like us to think that we are free, but we’re completely controlled. We’re controlled by a Nike sign, we’re controlled by peer pressure. We’re controlled by the longing for a particular car set at a high price. Why do Benzes cost so much? […] The reason why they want that so much is because they take the creatives from St. Martins mostly where Ricardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, Alexander McQueen came from. And all those guys go and work at Louis Vuitton like Marc Jacobs, they work at Givenchy, they work at different places. They make that stuff that’s so good, that that’s what we want the most. So basically, the most talented people that are making visuals and making apparel are put in a luxury box by a small group of billionaires and made us wish to desire LV and fight amongst ourselves and walk around with a bag and stuff. What I’m saying is what I learned at this point from being in Paris where I said I wanted to Mandela the buildings, I wanted to go inside Louis Vuitton stores and start ripping stuff down. But what I did is I kept it safe. I just made ‘New Slaves’ and I put it on the side of the buildings. I went from not only the mental slavery that I’ve experienced with clothing — because I like a Balenciaga sneaker because it’s designed better — and then it’s kids out there buying $1,000 sneakers, spending a month’s worth of pay because I wore it and it makes ‘em feel like that’s what they need to have in the club. […] Then I went on to talk about the CCA, hip hop crimes, and drug crimes that are related to black people having more time so they can do legal modern day slavery. So I took it from mental slavery to actual slavery. They want to enslave us. It’s companies that have the same company that would allow there to be a song that promotes guns, guns guns that are connected with the same cooperation that promotes privately-owned prisons. It’s actually the same company! It’s actually slavery today.
Charlamagne: Very true. But you do know that slaves in the 1800s didn’t have a choice. You don’t have to be in this industry, Ye.
Kanye: Well, this is my choice.
Charlamagne: Why you don’t get onstage and say ‘F fashion’? Kids you don’t need fashion to feel important.
Kanye: I’m learning. I’m still mentally shackled.