From The Atlantic magazine’s May issue… writer David Samuels, running into President Obama at a New York fundraiser, popped the question “Kanye or Jay-Z?”:
The president smiles. “Jay-Z,” he says, as if the answer should be obvious.
…“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.” The president gives a wink, poses for a few more pictures, and then glides away to meet with the rich Manhattan lawyers in the other room, leaving behind a verdict that he intended to be funny, and also entirely deliberate: even before an audience of one, the leader of the free world is still not letting Kanye West off the hook.
Obama first called Kanye a jackass about the same time everyone else was, when the rapper interrupted Taylor Swift’s 2009 VMA acceptance speech to say that Beyonce, Jay-Z’s wife, should have won the award.