As pop stars go, Kanye West is a pretty big deal. West is not just one of U.S.’s most popular musical artists (albeit the most crazy one too), he’s one of America’s most popular celebrities, period. With one of the largest number of followers on social media and a “2+2=5” relationship with his wife Kim Kardashian, West is a cultural phenomenon whose name alone can sell newspapers, record albums, clothing and more.
Recently, in San Jose, California, West interrupted his landmark show that he’s putting on as part of his Saint Pablo Tour in the middle to talk about newly elected President Donald Trump to the audience, who gathered beneath him as he stood on a lighting platform suspended by four steel cables.
First, West announced that he did not vote in the presidential election, but said that if he had, he would have voted for Donald Trump. West then admitted that he had friends — including his manager — who voted for Hillary Clinton, but he said he respected them because they were entitled to their opinion.
He told fans that he admired people who had their own opinions and weren’t afraid to be vocal about them. He said that despite the fact that many people in his show’s cast and crew had differences of opinion, they were still able to work together effectively to put on the performance.
West said that many people working for him had told him he shouldn’t tell people he was a Trump supporter. “I wanted to say that before the election and they told me, ‘Do not say that out loud. Whatever you do, do not say that,’” West announced.
“That don’t mean that I don’t think that Black Lives Matter. That don’t mean I don’t think that I’m a believer in women’s rights. That don’t mean I don’t believe in gay marriage. That don’t mean that I don’t believe in these things because that was the guy I would have voted for.”
West tried to explain that typically, musicians and celebrities lean towards Democratic ideals and support Democratic candidates. He then asked his audience to yell out who had voted for Hillary and who had voted for Trump. He implored the crowd to yell out numbers for what they thought was realistic as far as who had voted for Trump versus who had voted for Hillary.
At this point, some in the audience began to boo, tiring of West’s rant. West went on to say that he believed between 20 and 30 percent of his audience had probably voted for Trump and that they had a right to express their opinions.
But he also said that he believed many Trump supporters were too afraid to be vocal about their support of the reality television star. “People got the right to vote for whoever they want to vote for,” West said. “That’s the right to vote! That is our right!”
West reiterated that he had not voted and joked that perhaps his ticket and merchandise sales might fall off because he’d admitted it. He then rhetorically asked how he himself could expect people to vote for him if he ran for president if he hadn’t voted in the election.
West said he wanted people to think of the idea of the presidency in a new way and that new thinking was required for the role. He said if this new thinking wasn’t in evidence by 2020, he would jump into the race himself that year.
West compared himself to philosophers, saying that rap music is the philosophy of today’s culture. He talked about the power and influence of celebrity and said that Trump’s winning the presidency proved that celebrities could be more influential and powerful than politicians.
He said that one of the keys to understanding was not to “believe everything the Internet tells you” and that there are other “possibilities.” West called Trump “an entertainer” and a “genius” whose approach to the election ultimately worked in the end.
West paused his speech to perform a song but afterward picked up his rant. Someone from the crowd threw an object at him, but West was unfazed. “Express your opinion, bro!” West taunted.
West then remarked that a woman in the audience shouted “I love you!” after West had talked about the positive elements of Trump’s campaign. “That’s not supposed to happen, right?” West asked the crowd. “No! That’s not supposed to happen!” he repeated.
West talked about Trump’s speaking style, calling it “non-political” and “very futuristic.” At the same time, West pointed out that Trump’s speeches were politically incorrect and yet, Trump was able to triumph over an excessively politically correct candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Again talking about 2020, West said that he wanted to run, not because he wanted to compete with Trump, but because he believes he has unique ideas for the presidency. West said that the country needed more collective ideas from citizens, an idea that Donald Trump recently embraced with his survey for the public on what people think the President-elect should try to accomplish in his first 100 days.
West said that he believed that Ben Carson should continue to consult with Trump regarding his initiatives and the country’s direction. West said that even President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton should be consulted for some advice in running the country.
West finished his rant by repeating that he didn’t like the idea that he was expected to support a Democratic candidate solely because of his celebrity. He admitted to “loving” the presidential debates and liking Trump’s approach to them. He said that if racist people were more inspired to expose their racism due to Trump’s style of honesty, he said that would be a net positive, rather than holding their prejudice inside.
“Specifically to black people, stop focusing on racism,” West implored. “This world is racist, ok? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much… It’s just a fucking fact. We are in a racist country. Period. Not one or the other candidate was going to instantly be able to change that… Sometimes things that are bad have to happen in order for change to happen.”
Speaking of Trump, he said, “Sometimes you may have to act in an immature way to be able to get your way in the future.”
The reaction of the crowd to West’s speech was mixed; some people were encouraging Kanye to continue, while others clearly wanted him to stick to performing.
West resumed his show, but returned to talking about politics days later at a different show in Sacramento, California when he again interrupted his performance to speak about Hillary Clinton, saying, “If your old ass keeps following old models, you’ll be Hillary Clinton… It’s a new world, Hillary… Feelings matter. Because guess what? Everybody in Middle America felt a [certain] way and they showed you how they felt. Feelings matter.”
West also spoke about Obama, saying “Obama couldn’t make America great because he couldn’t be [Trump] to be who he was. Black men have been slaves. Obama wasn’t allowed to do this [West screamed] and still win. He had to be perfect. But being perfect don’t always change sh**, bro.”
West then abruptly ended this show after only 30 minutes, enraging some fans, who had paid up to $250 for tickets. Still, it’s clear that West has political opinions, and they don’t necessarily agree with others in the music industry, such as those of his contemporary Jay-Z.
Whether West will really make a run for the White House in 2020 remains to be seen, but given his stance related to Trump, don’t be surprised if he’s seen entering and leaving the White House in the future.