Kanye West: Troublemaker of the Year

West has proven himself an outspoken, creative force to be reckoned with

December 29, 2005
kanye troublemaker
Kanye West backstage in California.
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

My life is like disney world," says Kanye West. "It's like a never-ending dream. And now it's not as scary as it was before." Speaking on the day his smash second album, Late Registration, earned eight Grammy nominations, West insists success has mellowed him. "I'm more comfortable with being here," he says. "I can chill out for a bit." But West certainly found a way to raise some hell this year. On September 2nd, during NBC's live Hurricane Katrina telethon, he said what millions were thinking: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." He checks in while driving around L.A. "That's what celebrities do," he says. "They drive through the hills in Hollywood."

Rolling Stone named Late Registration the year's best album.
Oh, wow! Damn! Thank you! I think System of a Down should be up there also. Just like with my music, they use all different genres. They have a message, and they say whatever the fuck they wanna say. I like how it takes you on a ride. It'll be smooth and melodic, and then next thing it's superhard.

What was your best surprise this year?
What surprised me most was the impact of my voice on NBC. It's just magical that I can say something that's a popular opinion and it really has an impact.

When did you come up with "George Bush doesn't care about black people"?
I knew I wasn't going to read the whole [scripted] levee thing, because we'd practiced that earlier. I didn't think about Bush until the telethon. I saw him [on TV] – I'm like, "Wait a second, dude, that guy over there, he doesn't care." But America was already headed that way. I think it was a common opinion.

You also spoke out about homophobia in hip-hop, saying, "Everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people."
I got more backlash for that than for the Bush comment. It's wrong, and so many of my friends do that. We gay-bash. We feel like it's OK to call a gay person a fag. We fought so hard to make it so white people couldn't say the word "nigger" to our face. But it's not far-fetched to picture a black person calling a gay person a fag to their face. So that shows you the climate, where we're at right now. And it's not about racism, it's about discrimination.

Any recurring nightmares this year?
My last nightmare, a couple of weeks ago, was my girlfriend had some guy's number in her phone. She was lyin' about it, like, "I don't know what you're talking about!"

You weren't in R. Kelly's closet, were you?
Maybe not that extreme.

This story is from the December 29th, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »