Kanye West on the emotional price of celebrity: Exclusive 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' excerpt
The Chicken Soup for the Soul line of inspirational books is branching out into the music world. In Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song, out Nov. 10, dozens of successful songwriters and artists share the personal circumstances behind their hits. Today the Music Mix exclusively debuts Kanye West’s chapter on 2008’s “Welcome to Heartbreak”—a song about the emotional price of being a celebrity. Read on for the full story after the jump, and check back tomorrow for another exclusive book excerpt.
“WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK”
BY KANYE WEST
One day we were shooting in a hotel and I was talking to Dave Sirulnick, a producer from MTV, discussing ideas for a performance of mine. He had a small photo album of him and his wife and kids on the beach and doing different things together. It struck me that I really want to be married and have a family, but that hasn’t worked out for me.
My friend showed me pictures of his kids
And all I could show him was pictures of my cribs.
I felt like I was in high school and jealous of what another guy had. I knew that was what I really wanted.
You have to put time and effort into a relationship with the right person and you have to be with the right person to have a family. Being number one is great and I want that but I also want to chase other dreams in my life.
He said his daughter got a brand new report card
And all I got was a brand new sports car.
It was the first time a rap artist spoke condescendingly about property, possessions like a sports car. People are so concerned with what they have or what other people have instead of what’s really important—other people. Things like cars are usually used to show how people make it, but there is nothing more important than home and family.
Dad cracked a joke, all the kids laughed
But I couldn’t hear him all the way in first class
Chased the good life my whole life long
Look back on my life and my life gone
Where did I go wrong?
We need to take the time to look past their possessions to the people themselves. I was so busy chasing my dreams and everything is always moving so fast that I didn’t take the time to be part of everyday life and simple things like a walk to the store.
I became a prisoner of my own fans. I’m not complaining, and I know that I put myself there but, at the end of the day, I had to break out of prison, accept that I will never have a “normal” life, that it is part of the territory, and look beyond it. But I’m trying to live a more normal life—I’m in Hawaii now, where things are slow. I went to a Virgin MegaStore, which I love—I’m like a kid in a candy store there—and nobody was looking at me. It was one of those lost moments that I thank God for.
I expressed a lot of these same feelings in “Pinocchio Story.” I don’t have to be what a celebrity is supposed to be. I don’t want to be a superstar shell of myself. I need to know “Who’s the real person?” I don’t want to simply be a caricature of myself.
Real life, what does it feel like?
I ask you tonight, I ask you tonight
What does it feel like, I ask you tonight
To live a real life
I just want to be a real boy.
The verse in “Welcome To Heartbreak” about missing my sister’s wedding is absolutely true. I had to leave to catch a plane to London. These are real accounts of my life.
Oh my God, sister getting married by the lake
But I couldn’t figure out who I’d wanna take
Bad enough that I showed up late
I had to leave before they even cut the cake
Welcome to heartbreak
It was a tough year after the breakup with my fiancée and losing my mom. This whole album was a poignant reality. I opened myself up to new ideas. I was heartbroken and deflated, lauded and idolized all at the same time. It was a time of the highest highs and the lowest lows.
Kanye West has become a global brand. What I have had to learn is how to separate myself from that and be Kanye, the person who can have a real life and be able to go to soccer games with my kids.
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