Woman are complex creatures.
As far as being on a major label, some labels get it and get what they have to do, and some labels don't. I don't think the label I'm on necessarily gets it, but I think over time they're gonna have to.
The materialism, the brashness, the misogyny - everything in hip-hop is amplified. Misogyny is a good example of something that is completely amplified in hip-hop. I do think there is more than enough of a balance, though, for fans who are willing to search it out.
But it becomes disrespectful when the artist's process is not respected.
I tour whether I have album out or not. I tour more than any other hip-hop artist.
I like collaboration because, first of all, I'm good at writing lyrics.
I don't know how to make beats. I don't play instruments. I'm not a good singer. So even when you see a solo album of mine, it's still a collaboration.
Life without knowledge is death in disguise.
Hip-hop isn't as complex as a woman is.
I'm not an artist that has a big, huge radio record that's going to be on BET.
When I'm in the studio, I'm strictly thinking about the beats, the rhymes and the song. The decision I make once the songs are created, and there's a barcode put on the package, and I'm out there in the street selling it, those decisions as a businessman are different than the creative decisions you make.
So I think hip-hop is moving and is going to continue to move in the direction of rappers just being honest with themselves, whether you're talking about Common and Mos Def or Nas and 50 cent.
Well if somebody's giving me a script, I'll consider it. But it's not something I'm chasing.
My kids are the most inspiring thing that pushes me.
It used to be because they were born, and I had to take care of them. Now it's because my son raps, and he's better than me. So now I gotta keep up with him, you know what I'm saying?
You make knowledge relevant to life and you make it important for children to learn things that will really relate to things going on in their lives, and not abstract.
I'm a fan of Bjork, a fan of Premier, you know, those are the first two names that come to my mind. You know, I've learned a lot from every person I've collaborated with, from Madlib to Jean Grae and Hi-Tek, to Mos to DJ Quik, to even somebody like Jermaine Dupri. I've taken something important away from every experience.
A lot of these people, these program directors, just like anybody else in the world, even though they're supposed to be leaders in the world, they're followers. They follow what they think someone else is doing, instead of trying to blaze a trail.
I started rapping because I wanted people to hear what I have to say, I want as many people to hear me as possible, and I do everything in my power to make that pop.
The problem with our role is Americans live in a world of illusion.
I don't go into any album with pressing issues. I just try to write songs.
I think all those artists are artists who are appreciated because you believe their words and you appreciate their honesty in their music. If you don't appreciate the honesty in the music, the beat can be fly as hell but you'll never give an emcee props.
There are staples to my show. I have to be conscious about switching things up because I know people who saw me last year will say, 'He did that last time.' But if certain things work, they work.
The responsibility of an artist is to be honest with themselves.
We're in an illusion about what our role is in world politics and foreign affairs, and our policies are killing and destroying and doing a lot of things that we are not aware of.
Being called 'conscious' is a great thing to be, but it's the connotations and preconceived notions that come with the buying audience about what conscious music can be.
I remember looking back on a photo of me.
.. wearing a suit that was, like, two sizes too big for me. I think a lot of guys don't know what fits.
My musical influence is really from my father.
He was a DJ in college. My parents met at New York University. So he listened to, you know, Motown, and he listened to Bob Dylan. He listened to Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones, but he also listened to reggae music. And he collected vinyl.
I will never do a record without some sense of responsibility.
I think that I am seeing the Internet and seeing technology take and seeing how the work I do through music directly affects people's lives better than any politician I've ever met.
Artists look at the environment, and the best artists correctly diagnose the problem. I'm not saying artists can't be leaders, but that's not the job of art, to lead. Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte - there are artists all through history who have become leaders, but that was already in them, nothing to do with their art.
My personal take on politics is I deal with social situations and cultural situations in my music and in my life. I have said on record many times that I haven't voted. I'm not the type of person who says, 'I'm never going to vote.' I think it's clear to me that our system has failed us.
What is Norah Jones' style? Is it just the albums that we've heard? She has a rock group where she plays guitar in, downtown in New York, so do we really know her style?
So I just had to step up how I was doing it and the moment that I stepped up and the moment I focused all my energy on that is when things started to happen. So there's a direct relationship between my inspiration and my output.
I don't think that early hip hop stood out to be a social critique.
A lot of fans of mine think that hip hop's ultimate responsibility is to critique social structures.
You gotta eat right, you gotta have healthy habits, you know, and balance out your decadence with a healthy lifestyle during the day.
Being called a conscious rapper is quite a compliment.
It's a great thing to be. But as an artist, my nature is to not be in a box.
People consider Black Star a great album, and I think it's a classic album.
But the fact is, both me and Mos Def have made better albums since Black Star.
I am not a prisoner of conscious, but people try to make me one sometimes.
It is both a gift and a curse. It's a high honour but can create limitations - I have to be fluid.
When I look at the arc of my career, my focus is on lyricism, right? I own that.
You know, there's a lot of activism that doesn't deal with empowerment, and you have to empower yourself in order to be relevant to any type of struggle.
Once you're signed to a label you compromise.
But you have to be creative on how you sell yourself and market yourself.
I think hip-hop is no more misogynistic than America is as a society.
I just think hip-hop is a lot more brash, a lot more bold, a lot more loquacious. There are a lot more words that go into a hip-hop song than go into a regular song.
Hip-hop is a vehicle.
It doesn't get any more underground, conscious or indie than Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, but because they got a couple of really big pop hits, actually some of the biggest pop hits that hip-hop has ever seen, people are missing that part of their story. People are not counting that blessing.
The way I see it, if people truly love my music, they will support me in some way down the road.
You have to know when to be arrogant.
You have to when to be humble. You have to know when to be hard and you have to know when to be soft.
Even an independent label is looking for a hit, they're not looking for a record that's not gonna do well.
I think once you're in the public eye, whether you're a boss, a teacher or whatever you do, that you're automatically in the position of role model. You have people looking up to you, so whether you choose to accept it or not is a different question.
Ain't nobody making music to not be heard and the easiest way to be heard is to be on the radio, but you should never compromise who you are, your values or your morals.
That's what hip-hop is: It's sociology and English put to a beat, you know.
I'm at a loss for words. But even my loss is amplified.