Kanye West (AP/Lionel Cironneau)

Kanye just compared religion to the movie "Step Brothers": Yeezy's weird, wide-ranging pop culture analogies

Elaborate comparisons made in Kanye's recent GQ sit-down also include "Anchorman" and "Wolf of Wall Street"


Mary Elizabeth Williams
July 21, 2014 10:58PM (UTC)

Kanye West remains a one-man mashup. His music is perpetually innovative, his videos are mini blockbusters, his outbursts are epic and his Twitter feed was once the best piece of performance art on the Internet. Now, the man also known as Kim Kardashian's third husband has opened up to GQ, in an interview that's majestically, pop-culturally Kanye.

Speaking with writer Zach Baron just one week after his wedding, the world's most famous art school dropout outlines his "fight to raise the respect level for celebrities," while acknowledging the viral allure of images of him walking into poles and being glum at the zipline.

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But what makes it all quintessential Kanye is his effortless knack for references that seem at once totally rando and utterly apt. For instance:

What was the year 2010 like for him? "'Wolf of Wall Street.'"And he characterizes his love of God – "God flowing through us and us being little-baby creators and shit" -- by recalling a scene from "Step Brothers." "Never lose your dinosaur," he says. "This is the ultimate example of a person never losing his dinosaur. Meaning that even as I grew in cultural awareness and respect and was put higher in the class system in some way for being this musician, I never lost my dinosaur."

Explaining that the second verse of his song "New Slaves" is the best rap verse of all time, he declares: "It's the 'Coming to America' or 'Anchorman' of a verse."

Hip-hop always draws on different sources, but no one else has West's unique vision – the ability to do a single music video that draws on chiaroscuro, M.C. Escher, and "House of Flying Daggers." His first true hit, "Through the Wire," turned his life-changing car accident into a story involving Tom Cruise in "Vanilla Sky," being burned up like "Pepsi did Michael." Other cameos in the Kanye West canon: pig Latin, Howard Cosell. "Gold Digger" opens with Jamie Foxx, as Ray Charles, riffing on Charles' "I Got a Woman," and references Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Usher and an entire showroom of cars brands. The whole of "Stronger" is a Nietzsche reference – albeit one that also tips its hat to the Klondike jingle. "H.A.M." has an operatic finale, and "Monster" rhymes "esophagus' with "sarcophagus." I'll always have a special fondness for his guest stint on Estelle's "American Boy," for working in a reference to both Ribena and Gladys Knight and the Pips.

In the new GQ interview, West continues to display his knack for the unique turn of phrase, explaining his protectiveness of himself and his family by stating, "There's no fangs. I don't have fangs. I'm a porcupine. I'm a blowfish. Like, I'm a — what's the fish that blows up? Yeah. I'm a blowfish. I'm not a shark, I'm a blowfish." Today, he says he has a deepened focus on his music and his fashion career, has picked up "some Kim K skills" and is unabashedly enthusiastic about what his new missus brings to Kanye West, the brand. "With the skill sets that Kim is now giving me, I think I have a good chance of success in building something that has longevity, high integrity, high success rate, and is very fulfilling, not only for me creatively but also in adding fulfillment to people's lives," he says. "Adding ease. Adding wonder. Adding magic."

But Kardashian, for all her media savvy and "magic," may be the girl on the motorcycle, but she will never be the half of the duo to combine Forever 21 and "Fight Club" and Brenda Lee samples in the same song. And while I could provide context, it really works better to just let West's GQ quotes stand alone: "They didn't even talk there about the photographs, or the dress, or Andrea Bocelli singing, or the marble tables. They're like: 'It's a gold toilet.'" Or this: "I hope we don't see no paparazzi today. Because I'm still getting acquainted with these jogging pants I threw on. Like, 'That's not my statement!'" Marriage and fatherhood only made him stronger. He remains the king of pop-culture magpies. And whatever he does next, rest assured this blowfish has not lost his dinosaur.

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Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Gq Hip-hop Kanye West Kim Kardashian




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