As I was listening to Kanye West the other day, I couldn’t help but think what it might be like to have a casual conversation with him. Not an interview, but just superficial interaction. This is how I think it would go:
It’s a crisp Autumn afternoon as I sit waiting at El Diablo Coffee in Upper Queen Anne. I sit a table by the window, checking my phone every few minutes to pass the time while I wait. It’s not everyday that you have coffee with Kanye West. He happened to be passing through Seattle today and a mutual friend of ours (who asked specifically to remain anonymous) thought we might get along so he gave Yeezy my e-mail and we scheduled this meeting. He happened to have no gigs planner or parties to hit up while he was here, so it seemed like the perfect time to do it.
The door swings open and who should it be but Mr. West himself. He looks around the room briefly, trying to spot me out. I wave to him and get out of my seat to greet him.
“Hey there. I’m Dusty,” I say.
“Very nice to meet you. I’m Kanye.” he says.
We take his satchel over to the coffee table to reserve our spot and then go over to the counter to order drinks. We wait in line for a moment.
“This is a pretty vibrant looking coffee shop,” he says.
“Yeah, it definitely has a lot of flair to it,” I say. “I thought you might like it. It definitely stands out from the rest.”
He laughs. “Ha, well looks like someone did their homework on me.”
We both share a chuckle for a moment as we finally reach the cashier. He orders a grande Americano and I order a Mexican Hot Chocolate. I try to pay but he insists, since I am sort of hosting him by showing him the area. I feel a little guilty, but in the end I am a gentleman and accept his offer graciously. The whirs and clanks of the coffee machine are loud next to us as we wait for our beverages. I can see Kanye tapping his hand against his leg, as if the sounds are giving him inspiration for a new beat. We grab our drinks and go sit down at our table.
Kanye gingerly takes a sip of his Americana.
“That’s a damn good Americano,” Kanye says.
“Yeah, this place is pretty great,” I say.
“Best coffee shop I’ve ever been to. I’ll have to remember to buy it later,” he says. We laugh, but I’m not sure how much joking was going on there.
“So our friend tells me your a musician yourself too,” Kanye says before taking another sip.
“Eh, I guess so. I play in a folk-rock, alt-country band,” I say. “We’re still small but it’s pretty fun.”
“Alternative country, huh? I love that shit,” he says. “I’ve actually been working on a side project of that genre for awhile now. Been keeping it pretty under wraps till the right moment.” He looks around the room quickly, then back to me. “I’ll show you a quick clip if you promise to keep it on the down-low.”
I agree and he pulls out his iPhone. Though he seemed initially worried about others hearing before, he plays it through the speakers. It’s a bit hard to hear, but I’m able to discern a distinct twang reminiscent of Ryan Adams or possibly the Avett Brothers. Kanye’s voice fits surprisingly well in this manner.
“This is really good stuff, Kanye.” I say.
“Please, just call me Yeezy,” he says. “Do you really think that or are you just saying that to be polite?”
“No, I really like it. It reminds me of Whiskeytown meets Wilco but with a more 70s influence.”
“That’s exactly what I’m going for! You’ve got a great ear.”
“Well it’s a great track! All I had to do was listen to it, you created it.”
We talk a little bit about alternative country and artists from other genres that we like. We both have a mutual appreciation for The Notorious B.I.G. and a mutual dislike for Taylor Swift. It helps ease the conversation quite a bit and gets us more comfortable with each other. When in a conversation with someone new, it’s always the best bet to go with any common denominator.
As we finish our drinks I ask Yeezy if he’s ever heard of Kerry Park. He hadn’t. So I insist that we simply must go check it out. It would be positively criminal if we didn’t. We get up from our seats, I open the door for him, and we step out onto Queen Anne Avenue. The weather is perfect. Cool enough to wear a light jacket, but warm enough to not need it.
We keep talking as we’re walking.
“So, how are things with your love life?” I ask. He smirks a bit and looks down at his feet.
“You know, it’s funny,” he says. “As a rapper, I’m expected to be all about gettin’ hoes and having orgies and whatnot; and I have done a lot of that, but right now I’m pursuing a girl that is different.”
“Well, she’s just not the typical girl I’d go for. She’s reserved, very quiet. She’s very pretty but not some bootylicious superstar model. She’s just…nice.”
“Well that sounds like it might be good for you; tone things down a bit.”
“Yeah, I think so too…what about you? You mentioned a girlfriend earlier.”
“Yeah, Kristin’s great. I’m really happy with her. We complement each other perfectly”
“Yeah man, that’s what I’m lookin’ for right there.”
We finally reach Kerry Park and witness one of the most amazing views my city has to offer. As Yeezy stands looking out over the skyline, I can almost read his thoughts: “I run this shit.”
“This is incredible,” he says. “Thank you for showing me this, Dusty.”
“Hey, it’s no problem at all,” I say. “Everyone should see this view at least once.”
I see Kanye wipe his eyes, possibly from tears but it’s hard to tell from the angle and the sunlight.
“I’ve had a great time today, but I have to meet up with our friend at the airport soon,” Kanye says softly.
“Definitely, I understand. Let’s get you back and ready to go.”
I turn to start walking back to Queen Anne Ave but I am stopped by Kanye grabbing me by the shoulder and turning me around. He looks me straight in the eye.
“Dusty. I hope to some day be half the man you have become before my eyes today.”
And with that, he vanishes in a brilliant flash of light. If I listen closely, I can almost hear the flute hook from “Jesus Walks” faintly playing in the background.