Kanye West is an enigma. You either hate him or love him. You either totally buy in to him or completely disagree with his views on the world — regardless of which category you fall in to, however, his quotes are completely fascinating.
Some are quick to dismiss them as the musings of a selfish egomaniac, while others live, die, and swear by his every word. But there is a safe middle ground from which you can appreciate Kanye West’s genius moments for what they are while also dismissing his crazier, nonsensical quotes and soundbites.
From that middle ground, we explore some of the most inspirational Kanye West quotes—there are surprisingly more than we thought—to inspire you to be a better person.
Here are eight of the most motivational Kanye West quotes.
1. "I refuse to accept other people's ideas of happiness for me. As if there's a "one size fits all" standard for happiness"
Taken from his literary debut alongside co-author J. Sakiya Sandifer, Thank You And You’re Welcome, this quote is self-explanatory. Kanye West is telling everyone that no one has a right to tell you what should make you happy or how to express that happiness once you’ve found it.
It speaks to West’s relentless pursuit of perfection and how he will not be happy until he believes he deserves to be and on his own terms. Take this quote to heart and don’t let anyone tell you what your happiness should look or feel like.
2. "If you have the opportunity to play this game called life, you have to appreciate every moment. A lot of people don't appreciate their moment until it's passed"
This is basically West’s way of saying “live life to its fullest.” This lovely soundbite comes from his 2005 Grammy acceptance speech in which he also said: “I know everybody asked me the question, they wanted to know, 'What, Kan, I know he's gonna wile out, I know he's gonna do something crazy.' Everybody wanted to know what I would do, if I didn't win... I guess we'll never know!”
The former is definitely much better life advice and something a lot of people often forget to do. Sometimes life can fly by and if you’re not taking the time to appreciate everything you’re doing, you might want to rethink your approach.
3. "People always say that you can’t please everybody. I think that’s a cop-out. Why not attempt it? ‘Cause think of all the people you will please if you try"
A wholesome meme if there ever was one, this quote was born out of an interview with Neil McCormick of the Telegraph back in 2006 ahead of Kanye West’s British tour. Honestly, if we were all to live life with this in mind, there would be a lot more good in this world.
While it’s no doubt hard to please everyone, West isn’t saying you should, but that attempting to do so will result in a larger amount of people pleased than had you only aimed to please a select few. The rapper hasn’t always lived up to his own advice, admittedly, but that doesn’t mean we can’t.
4. "My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater. That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone in the past that has done so much, and in your life you're not even allowed to think that you can do as much. That's a mentality that suppresses humanity."
Speaking at Oxford University in England in 2015, West took a shot at all of humanity with this quote. It’s doubtful, of course, that Kanye West would have been as good as Picasso had he gone down the fine art path but this quote serves to motivate people to do whatever they can to live their best life.
At the same time, he is urging people not to put others down for their ambition because that mentality can create doubt and where there is doubt, there is usually unfulfilled potential.
Working together to become the best we all can be ultimately helps us all and West sees no reason we shouldn’t do exactly that.
A similarly motivating quote from the same talk proves just how highly West values teamwork and collaboration: “This humanity that I talk about, this civilization that I talk about, this future utopia I talk about…it can only happen through collaboration.”
5. "I feel that I’m very blessed. But with great blessings come great responsibility."
As hilarious as it is that Kanye West was paraphrasing Spider Man and was serious about it, he’s spot on here. During Ye’s 2013 interview with Kris Jenner he spoke about how he has been very blessed in many different parts of his life. But with those blessings come the responsibility to work hard to take advantage of them, and to ultimately use your position of privilege to help others.
6. "I approach creativity like a sport, where if I have a drawing I react just like a jock: LOOK AT THE FUCKING DRAWING RIGHT THERE YEAH! We're all creatives here, we're all born artists."
Another gem from his Oxford University talk, this quote tells us all to be loud and proud about our work, regardless of how small or insignificant it may be. Everyone needs a hype man and sometimes your best hype man is you.
7. "I'm not comfortable with comfort. I'm only comfortable when I'm in a place where I'm constantly learning and growing."
The easiest way to be a better person is to constantly learn and grow, something Yeezy is hyper aware of as evidenced by his 2013 interview with Rolling Stone.
This quote came in response to the overwhelmingly positive reviews for Yeezus and the fact that a lot of critics were impressed by his propensity to explore new sounds with each new album.
For West, though, that progression was just a part of life and you should look to mirror his outlook on this ASAP. Don’t get seduced by safety and comfort because you’ll never get better that way.
8. "Why, if someone is good in one field can they not be accepted or given the slightest opportunity to express and be creative in other fields?"
Kanye West was in fine form during his 2010 ACE Awards acceptance speech, sounding off on society’s tendency to put people in boxes and label them as one thing but not another.
There is perhaps no better proof that this quote hits the nail on the head than West’s own career. The rapper turned a wildly successful music career into a career as a fashion and sneaker designer. Even his best frenemy JAY-Z, who has built a career on astute business decisions and diversifying his bonds, shows that people can excel at more than one thing.
Don’t let anyone stop you from trying your hand at something new because you never know, you might just be a prodigy.
Next, read up our ranking of the 45 best Kanye West Songs.