On Thursday (May 10), John Mayer unveiled his new song “New Light” on Beats 1, chatting with Zane Lowe about working with hip-hop producer No I.D. on the funky track. After the premiere, Mayer and Lowe had an in-depth conversation on musical topics and current events, with both coming together when Kanye West came up.
Mayer first reflected on recording “Go” with Kanye and Common in 2005 — after they all saw Jamie Foxx‘s Ray together in theaters, naturally — and was quick to call West “the most creative person I’ve ever met in my life.” When Lowe asked him to elaborate, Mayer gave a little more insight into studio time with someone like ‘Ye.
“The veil that hangs between what you know and what you don’t in terms of creating, for him, is so freaking thin that I understand his excitement artistically,” Mayer said. “He can pull anything into existence that he wants. He is maybe the greatest summoner of creative energy. I’ve seen him do it; it’s a magic trick.”
Also shouting out Chance the Rapper and Shawn Mendes for their abilities to essentially pull a song out of thin air, Mayer declared that no one can touch Kanye. “He’s fearless,” he said.
The “Gravity” singer clarified that he doesn’t know Kanye incredibly well, but from his experiences working with Yeezy, he has a sense of what might be going on with the “Famous” rapper lately. Kanye has been under fire for controversial comments he’s made recently (including calling slavery a “choice”), which Mayer attributed to how the rapper/producer’s super-creative mind works.
“That is intoxicating and sometimes toxic,” he said after explaining that artists’ songwriting processes involve a lot of “make believe.” “Because how can you be sure what is someone’s true assessment of a boundary line and what is just another imaginary imposed boundary line? You’re just not sure where the walls are.”
He continued, “When you’re that powerful at building the road as you go, it’s gotta be very hard to be able to trust what’s a real road block and what’s an imaginary road block. Because your whole life … as an artist … is breaking through imaginary road blocks.”
Mayer has dealt with his own backlash from comments he’s made in the past, which he briefly discussed with Lowe following their Kanye talk. Watch the entire interview below (Kanye commentary begins around the 30-minute mark).