Jay Z Versus Kanye West, In Quotes

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On where the drive comes from:

Jay Z: “I couldn’t even think about wanting to be something else; I wouldn’t let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn’t stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane.”

Kanye: “People ask me a lot about my drive. I think it comes from, like, having a sexual addiction at a really young age.”

On just doing you… or somebody else:

Jay Z: “It’s always been most important for me to figure out “my space” rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself…”

Kanye: “I am Warhol! … I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney, Nike, Google.”

On leading the way:

Jay Z: “My thing is related to who I am as a person. The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling at the time, whatever direction I’m heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.”

Kanye: “Respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins.”

On identity:

Jay Z: “Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.” 

Kanye: “I get to represent somebody I don’t think is getting represented right now. The regular dude: the guy who believes in God but still likes pussy.”

On God:

Jay Z: “I’m far from being god, but I work god damn hard.”

Kanye: “When someone comes up and says something like, ‘I am a god,’ everybody says ‘Who does he think he is?’ I just told you who I thought I was. A god. I just told you.”

On inside the genius:

Jay Z: “I’ve always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched. My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement, or worse, stagnation. It’s allowed me to stay open to the next thing without feeling held back by a preconceived notion of what I’m supposed to be doing next. Stories have ups and downs and moments of development followed by moments of climax; the storyteller has to keep it all together, which is an incredible skill. But poetry is all climax, every word and line pops with the same energy as the whole; even the spaces between the words can feel charged with potential energy. It fits my style to rhyme with high stakes riding on every word and to fill every pause with pressure and possibility. And maybe I just have ADD, but I also like my rhymes to stay loose enough to follow whatever ideas hijack my train of thought, just like I like my mind to stay loose enough to absorb everything around me.” 

Kanye: “Visiting my mind is like visiting the Hermès factory. Sh*t is real.”

On the hustle:

Jay Z: “I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.”

Kanye: “There’s nothing I really wanted to do in life that I wasn’t able to get good at. That’s my skill.”

On humilty:

Jay Z: “I’m not afraid of dying I’m afraid of not trying.” 

Kanye: “…my music is perfect.”

On knowledge and learning:

Jay Z: “I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter.”

Kanye: “Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.”

On the role of the artist:

Jay Z: “Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.” 

Kanye: “Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on.” TC mark

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