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Kanye West Makes Surprise Visit to Rolling Stone

Debuts new album, raps on the conference room table (watch video!)

July 30, 2010 7:10 PM ET

Kanye West hosted an incredible, nearly two-hour Town Hall-style meeting at Rolling Stone this afternoon, where he played songs from his fall album, jumped up on a board room table to spontaneously rap, and fielded questions about everything from his diet ("Eating celery is not hip-hop!") to his recent internship at Fendi in Italy to the craziest thing he's ever bought (an antique fish tank). Watch exclusive video of his surprise visit above.

West says the vibe of his new record is positivity, acknowledging that he's made mistakes in his life. Adding that he believes great art doesn't have to come from dark places, he said, "I feel like [now] I can be a vessel for good will and energy." Dressed in a tailored charcoal gray suit, black wayfarer-style sunglasses and lace-less Dries Van Noten shoes, West opened up his laptop and fired through nearly a dozen new tracks plus snippets of unfinished ones. He played the full version of "My Chain Heavy" (the racially charged song he debuted a cappella at Facebook earlier this week), which was anchored by an old-school beat with a spacey whistle hook. Other songs featured some of Kanye's most adventurous and experimental music yet: heavy beats, cellos, sparse piano lines, fuzzed-out electric guitar solos, and spooky sci-fi melodies.

After gesturing for all the office's interns to join him and ask questions, West said he'd love to work with Lauryn Hill ("she's last of a dying breed") and Thom Yorke, made frequent references to Anchorman, Dodgeball and Semi-Pro, and joked that Twitter was designed with him in mind. "Rock stars just get scared and just run away from popular culture," he said. "It takes so much for me and Eminem to come back and embrace [it] and say, 'You know what? We have to deliver this on a major level to make a difference.'"

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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