President Barack Obama calling Kanye West a “jackass” for his behavior at the 2009 VMAs was one of our President’s more memorable quips. But it looks like Obama has raised his opinion of his fellow Chicageon in the last three years — despite his jackassery. For his lengthy essay for The Atlantic on Kanye and Jay-Z‘s Watch The Throne tour, writer David Samuels decided to use some shared time with the President to ask him the all-important question: Kanye or Jay-Z?
Recounts Samuels: “‘Jay-Z,’ Obama replied, as if the answer should be obvious.” (It should be — the President has already mentioned that he’s a Jay-Z fan, and don’t forget that Beyonce sang during Barack and Michelle’s inauguration dance and is involved in the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign. Basically, the Obamas and the Knowles-Carters are tight.)
“Although I like Kanye,” Obama continues. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.”
When Samuels asks, “Even though you called him a jackass?”, Obama replies, “He is a jackass. But he’s talented.”
President Obama’s first statement of disapproval of West came after the 2009 VMAs, during an (off-the-record segment of an) interview with CNBC: “The young lady [Taylor Swift] seems like a perfectly nice person,” said the President. “She’s getting her award. What’s he doing up there? He’s a jackass.”
Kanye responded to the President’s remarks a year later during an interview with XXL. “When Obama called me ‘jackass,’ after the Taylor incident, I thought that the person who taped that wasn’t supposed to tape it,” he said. “Obama was supposed to be speaking off the record. Obama has way more important stuff to worry about than my public perception. He was trying to pass the healthcare bill. And if he said that to relate to the room or lighten the room up and the whole mood, then I’d be more than happy to be the butt of all of his jokes if it in the some way helps his overall mission.”
Adds Kanye: “I’m a soldier of culture. I’m resilient. I’m sure I’ll still beat him in basketball.”