With Kevin Hart on the other cover, Toronto’s native son is on the front of the upcoming Winter 2014 “Race Issue” of VIBE Magazine, and during his sit-down he talks the Nothing Was The Same, Kendrick (of course), and more. A few choice quotes:
Do the jokes and Internet memes ever get to you?
It’s flattery. I’m just being human, it’s not like I’m on records crying and making videos in the rain and shit. I always get to this point where it’s like, “Man, how come this guy is allowed to do this? How come this guy is allowed to talk about the streets? All he did was be around it, just like me. He didn’t live it, but he’s allowed to talk about it. How come this guy is allowed to make girl records—love records—but they’re not girl records or love records when he does it?” I just have to step back and be like, because it doesn’t matter what those guys do. Whoever that is, it just doesn’t matter. They’re not important enough to be scrutinized like that. So it’s that feeling of accepting that I’m at the top and I don’t give them enough to talk about, so they have to make shit. No one ever loves that guy that’s on top.
Rap nerds have speculated whether “The Language” is a subliminal response to Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” Is it appropriate to put those two records side by side?
I don’t ever want to get into responses. It’s a commitment to go there. “The Language” is just energy. What it was inspired by, I’m sure that, and other things. It’s just me talking my shit. I never once felt the need to respond to that record. The sentiment he was putting forth is what he should have. Of course you wanna be the best. Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we’ll be buddy-buddy? Mind you, I never once said he’s a bad guy [or] I don’t like him. I think he’s a fucking genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall. Jordan doesn’t have to play pickup to prove that he could play ball, no offense. But I’m not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, ’cause I feel great. There’s no real issue. It’s tough because the people wanna see us tear each other down; I don’t wanna give them that. There’s no point. I have no ill feelings toward that guy. It’s just like, it’s there for me if I wanna fall for it. I’m just too smart for that. Hopefully it’s the last time I gotta talk about this, ’cause every time I open my mouth up about it, they take this piece and take this piece. And he’s hungry, so he’s going to do what he has to do like the BET [cypher]. But again, it’s not enough for me to go. We haven’t seen each other [since the BET cypher] but I’m sure we’ll see each other and it’ll be cool. And if it’s not, then I guess that’s how our story unfolds.
You brought [Kanye West] out as a surprise guest at OVO Fest in Toronto in August. He said you’re the reason that he and Jay Z made Watch the Throne, because you were bringing the pressure. Have you had a conversation with him since?
We talk a lot. We talk about potential things, working on stuff together. It’s just so interesting to go from OVO Fest to now, being the two tours that are on the road in America. We’re kinda back on the same—What’s he gonna do? ’Cause I know what I’m gonna do. It’s like that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson documentary of them reflecting on everything years later. Me and him might be able to do one of those one day, a crazy sit-down together in suits and just be old, like, “This how I really felt.” He’s, like, the best. What an era to be a part of. I wouldn’t want my competition to be anybody else. My competition is nobody else, by the way. It’s just me and ‘Ye. I still have work to do but that’s what it is right now.