Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Ninja Tune recently, and during the most recently released segment, he discussed an interesting interaction he once had with Kanye West. O’Brien met Kanye about four years ago at Carnival in Rio De Janeiro.
“He wasn’t really interested in me at all,” he said. “I sat there for like three hours, and I tried everything.” Eventually the topic turned to God, and O’Brien managed to get through to Kanye with some frank discussion of religion. “If you asked pretty much any British musician whether they believed in God, I’d tell you that 99% of them would say, ‘Don’t be stupid, of course not,'” he recalled telling Kanye.
O’Brien claims that this was shocking news to Kanye. “It blew his mind,” he said. “He was like, ‘You cannot be serious.'” This isn’t exactly surprising. Religion has long been an important part of Kanye’s music. On his early hit “Jesus Walks,” Kanye famous spat the line “They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, videotape/But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?/Well if this take away from my spins/Which’ll probably take away from my ends/Then I hope this take away from my sins.”
More recently, he featured a strong gospel esthetic on The Life of Pablo, evident from the opening line “We don’t want no devils in the house, we want the Lord” on “Ultralight Beam.” It’s fun to imagine an existential conversation between Kanye and O’Brien, but his retelling of it also reinforces the idea that God is a very important part of Kanye West’s music. You can check out the rest of the interview here.