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Illuminati Hov defends his “Run This Town” collaborator Kanye West in the February issue of Interview which he also covers. The accompanying article does a thorough job of questioning Hov about the ups and downs of the industry, including the perils of rapping after 40 and his dismay at Eminem having to wear a bulletproof vest, but when talk turns to Kanye’s VMA debacle – Hov holds it down for Yeezy. Look under the hood for his exact words:

MITCHELL: Sometimes his passions ruin him.

JAY-Z: Yeah, which is great. I like that, man! I really do. I mean, no one’s walking around here perfect. Everyone’s gonna make mistakes. That’s part of how you learn. I think Kanye . . . Well, I know he said what he believed. He was telling the truth.

MITCHELL: To which event are you referring?

JAY-Z: I’m talking about the Taylor Swift thing. I just think the timing of what he did was wrong, and that, of course, overshadowed everything. He believed that “Single Ladies” [by Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé] was a better video. I believed that. I think a lot of people believed that. You can’t give someone Video of the Year if they don’t win Best Female Video. I thought Best Female Video was something you won on the way to Video of the Year. But, hey, I guess it wasn’t—and that’s a whole other conversation about awards shows and artists.

MITCHELL: You’ve always had interesting takes on awards shows. I remember back in the day, you talked about the Grammys and said, “Well, they don’t take rap seriously, so why should I go? They don’t know what we do—and they don’t care about what we do.”

JAY-Z: It’s just honest, man—they really didn’t. I’ve always seen awards shows for what they are. For the awards show people, it’s about sponsorships—it’s not about recognizing anyone’s art, because if you get into the business of recognizing art, then you have to get it right all the time. You have to get it right. You can’t have the woman who wins Video of the Year not win Best Female Video. I mean, Herbie Hancock is great, but you can’t have him beat the Kanye album that year. I mean, come on, seriously. That can’t happen. That just lets me know that the people who get to pick these ballots just check the only name they know. I think that’s what’s happening with rap music now.

MITCHELL: Yeah?

JAY-Z: I think it’s a bunch of people who don’t know anything about rap, and have probably never even heard a Kanye West album, are doing the nominating, and they say, “Kanye West. I know that name. That’s the guy who made the comments about the president that time! He’s nominated!” That’s how the process works, and I think that’s part of Kanye’s frustration. Me, I look at it for what it is. But Kanye is so passionate about it. I mean, the guy shot three “Jesus Walks” videos. Three. Two of them he shot with his own money just so he could get it right. He really cares about it. And then, back to the original point, his passion kicks in and he takes things too far . . . He doesn’t realize that that girl, Taylor Swift, is just like him. That was her moment. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t do anything. It’s not her awards show. So he just did the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time.

Do most folks agree that Kanye was telling the truth at the VMA’s? Does that make him any less wrong?

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