It’s been almost three years since President Barack Obama called Kanye West a “jackass” after West’s infamous 2009 VMAs incident when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech. And it sounds like the president still holds the same opinion about the Chicago rapper.
In an interview with the May issue of The Atlantic, the president says he prefers Jay-Z over Kanye West, and he still thinks Kanye is a jackass.
A talented jackass, he noted, but still a jackass no less.
Check out an excerpt from the interview below:
“Kanye or Jay-Z?” The president smiles. “Jay-Z.” he says, as if the answer should be obvious.
When it comes to the most meaningful pop-cultural divide of the moment, the question of whether you prefer Kanye West or Jay-Z—the top two hip-hop artists in the world, who recently joined forces for a national mega-tour called Watch the Throne—Barack Obama is clearly a Jay-Z guy.
Jay-Z is about control. Jay-Z is about success. He’s a natural-born leader. He is married to Beyoncé Knowles, the gorgeous, sugar-spun R&B star who recently joined with Michelle Obama in a public campaign against the epidemic of childhood obesity.
Together, Jay and Beyoncé are worth something close to $1 billion. Jay-Z fills arenas and enunciates clearly—unlike Kanye West, who jumps onstage and interrupts during award ceremonies, cries on talk shows, and jets off to Rome to apprentice with the House of Fendi.
Besides, the president’s smile says, we are at a fund-raiser in New York, which is Jay-Z’s hometown.
“Although I like Kanye,” Obama continues, with an easy smile. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.” He is displaying his larger awareness of the question, looking relaxed, cerebral but friendly, alive to the moment, waiting for me to get to the heart of the matter.
“Even though you called him a jackass?,” I ask.
“He is a jackass,” Obama says, in his likable and perfectly balanced modern-professorial voice. “But he’s talented.”
Back in 2009 when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for “Video of the Year” at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, President Obama called him a “jackass” while conversing with a reporter prior to an interview.
The president didn’t know his mic was on at the time, and NBC leaked the audio, which quickly went viral.
“I thought that was really inappropriate. You know it was like she’s getting an award — why are you butting in?” he said. “The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She’s getting her award. What’s he doing up there? He’s a jackass.”