West's first interview with Welch took place just three days after Bryant's tragic death in a helicopter crash in California. “Kobe was one of my best friends,” the rapper said. “This is a game changer for me. He was the basketball version of me, and I was the rap version of him, and that's facts! We got the commercials that prove it. No one else can say this. We came up at the same time, together.”
This is just one of a few “game changer” moments in his life that West talks about in the GQ interview. One of the most recently publicized moments? His rebirth as Christian.
“I'm definitely born again,” West said. “When you're not in service to God, you can end up being in service to everything else.” He discussed the spiritual nature of his “Sunday Service” — a weekly gathering that's part-church choir, part-concert, which is often attended by high-profile celebrities such as Justin Bieber. West threw an emergency Sunday Service at midnight the day Bryant died.
“I surrounded myself with the healing — the highest-level healing possible: singing about Jesus with my friends and family surrounding me [at Sunday Service] every single week,” he said to GQ.
“This was a place, contrary to popular belief about Christianity, of no judgment. I feel that the church that most people grew up on as kids had a negative environment," he shared. "The greatest thing for me, as someone who's given their life to Christ, is knowing that other people have that as an anchor and a form of healing, because you're talking to a person that went to the hospital and back.”
When asked how he can square his anti-establishment ethos with religious organizations, which the writer called "systems of control," West responded, "People can say in the same way, 'Hey, why would you go to Paris if they didn’t want you in the fashion houses?' And that’s not going to stop my love for clothing, my love of creativity, my love of going to see the shows. And people could say, 'What about these things that men have done with the word of Christ that were bad and, let’s say, over-institutionalized?' And I’m saying: That’s not going to stop my love for Christ. I’m going to keep on expressing what God has done for my life."
West also touched on past issues with alcohol. "People have called me a crazy person, people have called me everything — but not a functioning alcoholic. And I would be drinking orange juice and Grey Goose in the morning," he said.
“One day I was in my office working on the couture collection, and there was some Grey Goose in the fridge and I was just going to get a daytime drink, and I looked and thought, ‘Devil, you're not going to beat me today,’ he continued. “That one statement is like a tattoo. I haven't had a drink since I realized I needed to take it day by day.”
But with the help of the his pastor and his beliefs, West was ultimately able to find a healthier headspace, and make the kind of music and art he wanted to create.
“I made it back from addiction, I beat the predictions, brought real to the fictions,” he told GQ. “That's off the new album.”
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.