Pres. Obama: “I like Kanye… he is a jackass, but he’s talented”

I just read a really wonderful piece in The Atlantic. I thought it was going to be about Pres. Obama and his pop-culture politics, but as it turns out, the piece is entirely about Kanye West, and how Kanye became Kanye, and what a brilliant, crazy, screwed-up mess of a man he is. I seriously can’t recommend this “think piece” on Kanye enough – go here to read the complete essay. I know people are only going to concentrate on the Pres. Obama part of it, but the whole thesis – that Kanye is a brilliant artist, an “American Mozart” as well as some kind of damaged, tortured, egomaniacal monster – holds up completely. Here’s the Pres. Obama part:

So here is the president of the United States, enjoying canapés and small talk at Daniel, chef Daniel Boulud’s gourmet restaurant just off Park Avenue, with the right touch of upscale-whorehouse decor and enough Alice Waters in the kitchen to make it the place where every Wall Street guy takes his wife on bonus night… I get my chance to ask him the question of the moment, the question that everyone who has bought the album or spent $150 on a concert ticket wants answered. “I have a question I want to ask you, Mr. President,” I venture, once I catch his attention.

“Sure,” the president says.

“Kanye or Jay-Z?”

The president smiles. “Jay-Z,” he says, as if the answer should be obvious. When it comes to the most meaningful pop-cultural divide of the moment, the question of whether you prefer Kanye West or Jay-Z—the top two hip-hop artists in the world, who recently joined forces for a national mega-tour called Watch the Throne—Barack Obama is clearly a Jay-Z guy. Jay-Z is about control. Jay-Z is about success. He’s a natural-born leader. He is married to Beyoncé Knowles, the gorgeous, sugar-spun R&B star who recently joined with Michelle Obama in a public campaign against the epidemic of childhood obesity. Together, Jay and Beyoncé are worth something close to $1 billion. Jay-Z fills arenas and enunciates clearly—unlike Kanye West, who jumps onstage and interrupts during award ceremonies, cries on talk shows, and jets off to Rome to apprentice with the House of Fendi. Besides, the president’s smile says, we are at a fund-raiser in New York, which is Jay-Z’s hometown.

“Although I like Kanye,” Obama continues, with an easy smile. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.” He is displaying his larger awareness of the question, looking relaxed, cerebral but friendly, alive to the moment, waiting for me to get to the heart of the matter.

“Even though you called him a jackass?,” I ask.

“He is a jackass,” Obama says, in his likable and perfectly balanced modern-professorial voice. “But he’s talented.” The president gives a wink, poses for a few more pictures, and then glides away to meet with the rich Manhattan lawyers in the other room, leaving behind a verdict that he intended to be funny, and also entirely deliberate: even before an audience of one, the leader of the free world is still not letting Kanye West off the hook.

Whatever you think of the many controversies he has ignited, you must admit that Kanye West is at least some kind of musical genius, ranking among the top five producers and the top five rappers of the past decade. (His singing, by contrast, is kind of a joke.) Every one of his five solo albums has gone platinum, and he has sold 30 million digital downloads of his songs, to become one of the most downloaded musical artists of all time. He has won 18 Grammys—the most of any artist in the past 10 years—while serving as a backpack-wearing icon of black nerd chic. Kanye’s power resides in his wild creativity and expressiveness, his mastery of form, and his deep and uncompromising attachment to a self-made aesthetic that he expresses through means that are entirely of the moment: rap music, digital downloads, fashion, Twitter, blogs, live streaming video. He is the first true genius of the iPhone era, the Mozart of contemporary American music, intent on using his creative and emotional gifts to express the heartbreaks and fantasies of his audience.

In addition, though, Kanye West is, according to the president of the United States—the first black president of the United States—a “jackass,” a narcissistic monster who tore a massive hole of self-regard in the American cultural quilt.

[From The Atlantic]

I kind of love that Pres. Obama is holding on to his “he’s a jackass” statement. Remember – Obama has daughters who presumably listen to and have opinions on Taylor Swift. That was why he said something in the first place, back in 2009. While Obama threw in some compliments too, you’ve got to think that Kanye might have a good cry about this – or would he? Is Kanye the kind of narcissistic monster who wouldn’t even be bothered by the fact that the president of the United States has just called him a “jackass” AGAIN? Or would Kanye rage and weep and pour that energy into another album? That’s the brilliance/disaster that is Kanye. I have no idea.

PS… After reading that piece, I’m even more convinced that this Kim Kardashian relationship is some kind of extreme performance art on Kanye’s part.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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72 Responses to “Pres. Obama: “I like Kanye… he is a jackass, but he’s talented””

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  1. laylajanelovesgossip says:

    The President is a smart guy, Kanye is a jackass and so is his pseudo girlfriend<–

  2. Jenna says:

    OMG he actually said that? I love that man. :)

  3. Reece says:

    Performance art and easy access vagina.

  4. Scarlet Vixen says:

    This is exactly how I feel about Kanye, as well–talented, but a total jackass. However, the “Mozart of American contemporary music”? F*ck no. Please let’s not give this particular jackass an even bigger than he already has.

  5. mia girl says:

    I think President Obama could easily get re-elected on this platform alone.

    Kayne being a talented jackass is a something that the majority of Americans can agree upon.

  6. Agnes says:

    omg. love it! the President is so cool. :)

  7. dorothy says:

    We’ll from one jackass to another I guess. Too bad their not BOTH talented.

  8. Relli says:

    I totally agree with President Obama’s sentiments about Kanye. As artist I love his music, as a person I find him completely ridiculous…

    Oh and his new “muse” has go to be performance art.

    and now i am going to stay off this thread because every time Obama comes up on these pages, people act like they dont have mamas or grandmas who can read.

  9. rissa says:

    if the president called me a jackass, id be on facebook telling everybody haha

  10. Skins says:

    Mozart? c’mon man. He is a rapper

  11. iloveretro says:

    Kanye is a pathetic man-child of the highest order who will never, ever grow up and always think everything he ever does is total genius and anyone who says/thinks anything different is a “stupid hater”. Who can be bothered dealing with such a malignant narcissist? Yuk.

    Also, the whole Kim Kartrashian thing? Total performance art/self-promotion. Faker than her “marriage” to that Humphries dude.

  12. lolaluvsu2 says:

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve agreed with Obama

  13. Sarah says:

    I heart President Obama so hard.

  14. Feebee says:

    Can’t fault the man for speaking the truth and standing by what he said.

    If the KK thing is a publicity stunt that’s fine. If it’s not I’m wondering how low his self esteem really is. Isn’t there a theory that the biggest egos can actually be the most insecure?

  15. H-Town5thWard says:

    Wow, I actually agree with the president for a change.

  16. Hubbahun says:

    Please don’t insult Mozart.

  17. Kim says:

    Obama + Kanye = 2 jackasses minus talent.

  18. Hayley says:

    That’s the first thing Obama has said that I agree with. I might have to reconsider my dislike for Obama.

  19. WaywardGirl says:

    Obama’s right. Kanye makes great music, but he is a dumb ass. Go Obama!

  20. NerdMomma says:

    Rage and weep? I’ll bet he’s feeling like a god because the POTUS called him “smart” and “talented.” Kanye knows he’s a jackass, but having the leader of the free world taking time out of his day to discuss you and give two compliments- that’s worth bragging about.

    Please note: there is NOTHING POLITICAL about my comment, and should be nothing political about this thread. It’s about Kanye. Please?

  21. anti-icon says:

    I always thought Kanye was talented; and I was willing to forgive a lot of his douchery because he lost his mom. But…why isn’t making music enough for this ego inflated baby? This new romance with Kartrashian is just going to hurt him….but my bet is that it will be entertaining. Kayne doesn’t know how to STFU and put it in the music. And then stay quiet again. If he did, the President of the United States of America would not be calling him a jackass. How humiliating can it get, Kanye? He’s gonna find out, cause he’s hooked up with The Biggest Jackass in America. I still root for Kanye over any of those other K-Trash public menaces on the E! Channel.

  22. carlino altoviti says:

    American Mozart? Lol!
    Mozart used too much notes to be an European Kanye.

  23. kibbles says:

    No wonder the country is going down the crapper. It isn’t entirely Obama’s fault for these type of interviews. He says what he needs to get elected and look “cool” among clueless younger voters. He’s a politician after all and he understands that much of our country has turned into mindless idiots more concerned about his opinion on trashy celebrities and their drama more than poverty, education, the economy, and foreign policy. Pop culture and reality shows have really infected the minds of Americans to the point where they are many people out there who will vote for a politician based on celebrity endorsements over policy decisions.

  24. barbi says:

    If only I could base my vote on agreeing with one candidate on one thing for the first time ever, my decision would be so much easier. Sigh. Guess I will have to listen to opinions that matter……..;-)

  25. TruthTella says:

    This is exactly the truth tbh lol Kanye is a crazy, monomaniacal sometime douche but he is a musical genius.

  26. bLACK jO says:


    nice of the sorta black Prez to defend the blue eyed blonde white gyal, po lil’ Taylor! ‘Cuz we all know how tuff y’all white womenz have it. Can’t get yo face on a mag o get a commercial fo hair care products. Gotta have straight hair to fit in. Y’all character gonna die first in the movie. Society persecutes the white womenz by sayin’ she’s the fugliet womenz of all ethnicities.

    Yeah boy! Especially blonde blue eyed white womenz have it super tuff in life…o wait that’s black women that endure injustice and racism at every turn in white dominated US society.

    Why didn’t the Prez call John Meyer, Tay tay’s ex, a jack ass when John made racist remarks about black women? Couldn’t be bothered I guess.

  27. Kim says:

    Yeah because this is something the President should be commenting on (not). Obama is more into fame than bettering/running our country.

  28. skuddles says:

    A jackass who looks like an angry chipmunk…

    Weird that Kanye is supposed to be such a great artist – I honestly can’t think of a single song of his that I know. Probably just stuff I tune out on the radio at work…

  29. bLACK jO says:

    Kim, I’m not stupid, and you needn’t address me anymore.

    I’m a woman of color and I DON’T appreciate the Prez taking time to defend a white woman but failing to defend black women. Black women aren’t appreciated by society, and no one stands up for black women when we’re publically denigrated.

    Not even our sorta black Prez.

    • Aagje says:

      Instead of making this a racial issue, which as far as I can see it really isn’t, maybe you can see that what Kanye did to Taylor Swift was a dick move; one in many. The man’s ego is barely able to fit on this planet, hell, even in this universe.

    • Lucky Charm says:

      I guess you forgot that his wife is black, and I’m pretty sure he appreciates & respects her!

    • gg says:

      Off topic. Nobody asked him at this setting about his opinion of black women, did they? They asked about the above jackass and he reiterated his opinion. And he married one so I’m sure he loves black women.

      And Uncle Tomming on this thread is really in very poor taste, if you have something to say.

    • elvisgrace says:

      Could you please state a recent example of where you felt a black woman was in need of support & President Obama failed to do so? That would make it a little bit easier to see where you’re coming from.

    • Alita says:

      Conceptual lol at the US president’s job being to ‘defend’ random women throughout the States. All the white ensuring he gets the ethnic balance of defences right.

    • Trashaddict says:

      bLACK jO-
      OK I will stand up for black women. Black women have put up with terrible shit in this society. Black women are strong to deal with all of the challenges they have to confront. Black women are beautiful. Black women deserve better. I think Michelle Obama is a very graceful First Lady who has done a good job of figuring out her role in the Administration. Beyonce is beautiful. Maya Angelou is beautiful. Rosa Parks is beautiful. There are many many people of color I think are beautiful. I just don’t happen to like Kanye. It’s just my opinion.

  30. JB says:

    Obama is correct on Kanye though Kanye needs to come out, nothing but a typical dl queen who has weight issues and trying to over compensate for his stubbiness (in both ways). Black Jo you need to STFU with your dual racism because it’s always someone else never yourself kinda pot calling the kettle black, as you could tell I really don’t care so get off your oh poor me pity pot.

  31. Kitten says:

    Kanye’s strength is not rapping, it’s production. I’m not sure about the Mozart comparison but people who have no respect for hip-hop probably aren’t equipped to have an unbiased opinion about Kanye’s talent. I agree that he is douchetastic but as a lover of (GOOD) hip-hop, I recognize his talent. And though Obama has disappointed me in some areas (CLOSE Git-Mo!! Jebus) I still don’t regret voting for him.

  32. MizzVJJ says:

    One fake person picking his fave Illuminati puppet over his equally fake untalented jackass. *yawn* Hes soooo cool.

  33. Dirty Martini says:

    I agree that Kanye is a jackass. it takes one to know one.

    Making Kanye a jackass. making Obama a jackass. making me a jackass.

    There, I own it. And of the 3, I’m likely the only one.

  34. Loulou says:

    Kanye might just be the guy to take down the Kardashians, that’s how genius he is. Give this a few weeks then when he blows a fuse, it won’t be pablum like with Kris Humphries, it’s going to be an altogether different tune. I can see it now, butting heads with Kris Jenner. It’ll be spectacular!

    • anti-icon says:

      Loulou, I hope you’re right. It is Kanye’s instinct to be impulsive, and he might “get inside” and find something of real value to bring down this Kartrashian empire of evil. I really want Kanye to succeed in his profession.

  35. jesstar says:

    I imagine Kanye in a near-constant state of delerium driven so by the sheer amount of creativity going on in one brain. I dont know how he does it.

  36. ChronLogic says:

    Remeber Andy Kaufman of Taxi, immortalized in the movie Man on the Moon? Yeezy reminds me of him, in the life-as-extended-performance sense. In the second pic, where he’s sneering, you can almost hear him say, “I’m from Hollywood,” Kaufman-style.

  37. leetruth says:

    The President is a jackass for playing to the gallery.