The second season of David Letterman’s Netflix interview series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, premieres Friday and includes a conversation with Kanye West.
The 60-minute episode runs the gamut of topics, from Kanye’s mental health, to his politics, to his fashion line and Sunday Service performance series. Here are five big takeaways:
1. Kanye credits comedian Andy Kaufman as one of his biggest influences
As Letterman tries on various items from the YEEZY collection, Kanye explains the inspiration for his 700 Boost sneakers, which he himself describes as dad shoes. While some rappers have begun wearing the sneakers ironically, Kanye says, “I take everything literal. Like, how Andy Kaufman started literally being a wrestler, it wasn’t like a play.”
Letterman goes on to ask more about Kanye’s affinity for Kaufman. “He gave me courage. How you deal with the media,” Kanye responds. “I’d far rather be an Andy Kaufman than the majority of the way people are letting the media pushing them around. I’m in front of the joke, the joke is on everyone else.”
2. Kanye, who was diagnosed as bi-polar two years ago, has not taken his medication for eight months
In explaining his battle with bi-polar disorder, Kanye describes to Letterman what it feels like when he is “ramped up”: “When you’re in this state, you’re hyper paranoid about everything. Everyone now is an actor, everything is a conspiracy. You feel the government is putting chips in your head, you feel you are being recorded. You feel everyone wants to kill you. You don’t trust anyone.
“And there’s this moment, when they handcuff you, they drug you, they put you on the bed, and they separate you from everyone you know. They don’t do that to pregnant women. That’s something I’m so happy I experienced myself, so I can start changing that moment. When you are in that state, you have to have someone you trust. It’s cruel and primitive.”
He continues, “I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I’m ramping up. It is a health issue that has a strong stigma on it, and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way. This is like a sprained brain, it’s like having a sprained ankle. If someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more. With us, once our brain gets on the point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse. They do everything to make it worse.”
All that being said, Kanye describes his form of mental illness as “a luxury version” and he is not currently taking medication over fears it will limit him creatively. “That’s the reality,” Kanye explains. “If you guys want these crazy ideas, crazy stages, this crazy music, this crazy way of thinking… there’s a chance it might come from a crazy person.”
3. Instead, he uses alternate forms of therapy to manage his bi-polar, such as light therapy
Kanye specifically credits James Turrell’s Roden Crater, a naked-eye observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, to which Kanye recently donated $10 million dollars. “His lights turn you into a zen state,” he explains.
Kanye also says his Sunday Service performance idea was born out of this idea. When he was hospitalized, he wrote down “all these ideas. One of them was to do a church.”
“The only thing I can parallel with James Turelll is to contribute something musically and to learn more about sonics that are healing.”
4. Kanye says “my power is my ability not to be influenced”
Kanye’s discussion on mental health segues into a discussion concerning human thought and the idea of living in constant fear. Kanye argues that that “human beings have good and bad thoughts. There’s no such thing as the 100% good guy… and the 100% bad guy.”
Confusingly, he goes on to reference the #MeToo movement as an example of this. “For those two years, men in powerful positions were like, ‘What did I do over the last 30 years of my life?’ [It’s] That level of fear, that we as a society are constantly fear.”
When Letterman points out the fear felt by women who are on the receiving end of such toxicity, Kanye responds: “What I’m saying is, we’re not allowed to have any conversation… When you go to court, both sides can talk. This is a court of public opinion and when someone bombs first, the war is supposedly over.”
5. Kanye calls out liberals for bullying Trump supporters
Kanye’s comments on free thought lead to a discussion about his politics. “This is like my thing with Trump—we don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel,” Kanye says. When he wears a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, Kanye says it’s “not about politics, it’s not about policies. It’s about fear.”
“I have people who I work with, black, female, who love Trump, who voted for Trump, who are scared for life to tell anyone.”
When Letterman asks Kanye whether he voted for Trump, Kanye admits that he’s never voted in his life. “Then you don’t have a say in this,” Letterman responds.
“But who says who has a say,” Kanye retorts. He then goes on to rehash his past argument concerning the 13th amendment and its “exception clause,” which leads Letterman to bring up the issue of voter suppression.
Kanye mostly skirts Letterman’s questions on the impact Trump’s policies have had on minorities in this country. Instead, he opts to deride liberals for bullying Trump supporters. “How do you feel for the people who voted for them who are being treated like enemies of the nation? Liberals bully people who are Trump supporters!”
Elsewhere in their conversation, Kanye discusses his parents, his early musical upbringings, how his lyrics compare to that of his mentor, JAY-Z, and Kanye’s latest album, ye. You can see the full episode beginning Friday, May 31st on Netflix.