A few weeks back, I got a phone call from Kanye West and J. Sakiya Sandifer, who recently published a slim self-help book called Thank You and You’re Welcome. My interview with the co-authors turned sour midway through, when I dared to ask Kanye what he thought of Eminem’s album. “This is like Andy Kaufman going in, and they’re like, ‘Do Mighty Mouse!'” the rapper noted. “He’s like, ‘I don’t want to do Mighty Mouse!'” (I think that he was supposed to be Andy Kaufman in that analogy, and I was the inconsiderate audience. Sorry, man, I was on deadline!)
Luckily, Kanye was in a forgiving mood. “I don’t get offended anymore, actually,” he said. “How did you like the book? I mean, it’s like a 15-minute read.” At this point, it emerged that I did not, in fact, possess a copy of Thank You and You’re Welcome. So we all agreed to schedule another interview for the following week, by which time I would have been able to read the book. Their publisher sent over a copy; I read it cover to cover and drafted what I thought was a list of interesting questions. But when the co-authors called me for our second interview, things only got stranger. What follows after the jump is my testiest exchange with West and Sandifer — most of which did not make it into the printed version of our Q&A.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kanye, you mention in the book that the “Thank You and You’re Welcome” principle has paid off for you in your relationship over the years with Common. Do you have any other examples of ways that that has worked for you?
KANYE WEST: [Sounding surprised] You mean other examples than what’s in the book?
EW: Yeah. That’s a great example, but since you named your book after that idea, it seems like an important one.
KW: Well, we want every moment in life to be a “Thank You and You’re Welcome.” Like, it’s cool to do an interview with Kanye and Sakiya on your part, and it’s cool for me for you to use your outlet to express why people should check this book out.
EW: Could you elaborate a little bit on that?
KW: I think that was a pretty simple, concise answer. We can just go on to the next question.
EW: Okay, sure. You mention that you’ve gotten some backlash from your “Think It, Say It, Do It” philosophy. Can you tell me why you still think that’s been a good approach?
KW: The “saying it” part sometimes polarizes people. But then when you do it, it shuts people up. Sometimes it’s cooler to think it and then do it and catch people off-guard. But my style is to announce it — to shoot a half-court shot, but tell people the day before, “I’ma shoot a half-court shot in the game tomorrow.” It’s more fun.
EW: And to be specific, you mean that when you give interviews and talk about the music you’re working on, it’s more enjoyable to predict beforehand that it’s going to be dope?
KW: Not just music, but any venture I have in life. Music is my most successful venture at this point. It’s definitely one of the things that I’ll be known for in history. But this book isn’t about me. Like, how does this book make you feel? Maybe we should ask the questions.
EW: I appreciate what you’re going for, but you are the person who wrote the book, and the reason most people are probably going to read the book is because they love your music.
KW: That’s the reason they’ll read it, but how does it connect to you at the end of the day? Were you able to get past the concept of me and focus on the concept of you? This book is about you. Were there any ideas in the book that you thought were cool, like, “You know, that’s true!”? I’m asking you this question for an answer.
EW: One that I liked was when you talk about never being completely happy with your work. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, and it appealed to me, the idea that it can be more motivating to see your own flaws.
KW: Yeah, “Embrace Your Own Flaws.” I was going to say that if you hadn’t. Learn more from a critique than a compliment.
EW: Since I’ve told you why that speaks to me, I’m curious to hear either of you elaborate on why that’s an important concept for you.
J. SAKIYA SANDIFER: I mean, the example that was given in the book is a very clear one.
KW: You know what I don’t like about the continuous questions about elaborating, is I’m not trying to give someone else a book to write.The book is itself. I just want to use this opportunity to explain to people why they need to buy this book. That’s what happens. Why elaborate?