West and Trump, photographed inside the Oval Office at the White House on October 11, 2018.
By Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
The rapper and designer visited Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday, ostensibly to witness the signing of a bill about musicians and streaming services (Kid Rock was also there), and, per Kim Kardashian West, to talk to Trump about his ideas that “revolve around inner-city Chicago.” The bill was signed, but what happened next was, essentially, what has happened any time West has been in front of a live microphone in the last decade: he talked about everything and nothing, this time in front of what might be the most appreciative audience he’s even encountered.
In a 10-minute monologue broadcast live on CNN and other networks, West announced that his bipolar diagnosis from a 2016 hospitalization was incorrect, and that he is actually just sleep-deprived. He also praised Trump for giving him a “Superman cape“ to do good, and said “Trump is on his hero’s journey right now. And he might not have expected to have a crazy motherfucker like Kanye West [supporting him].” It seems likely West is one of the first people to say “motherfucker” in front of cameras in the Oval Office, earning some pearl-clutching from some of the Washington press corps.
When the speech was over, Trump, perhaps speechless for the first time, said, “I tell you what that was pretty impressive . . . That was quite something.” West then replied: “It was from the soul. I just channeled it.”
West has been taking his tour of non sequiturs on the road recently, first launching into a pro-Trump rant at the end of Saturday Night Live’s season premiere two weeks ago, then sharing his thoughts on everything from his new album to Colin Kaepernick on TMZ Live with Harvey Levin. S.N.L. cast member Kenan Thompson, who left before West took the stage, told Seth Meyers that it seemed like West was holding the cast hostage.
West has been a staunch supporter of Trump since he visited the then-president-elect at Trump Tower back in December 2016. Since then, he’s taken up Trump’s favorite pastime of tweeting every thought that passes through his mind (though he abruptly deleted social-media accounts last week), often praising Trump’s personality and policies, and choosing similar enemies. After the S.N.L. rant, it was clear that West was firmly on Trump’s radar:
“Like many, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it)—no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems,” he wrote. “Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told “no”), was great. He’s leading the charge!”
Everyone in that Oval Office is old enough to remember when Trump’s favorite talking head, Sean Hannity, was apoplectic about Common’s visit to the White House. Or when Fox News proclaimed that “Obama’s Hip-Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs.” The difference with West, who has not always been a Republican cheerleader, is that he’s one of the few A-list supporters of a man whose favored currency has always been celebrity. As much as one might not expect one of the world’s foremost narcissists to take a shine to another such ego, Trump has clearly found something convenient in West—and West, as much as it’s possible to divine his intentions, will happily share that spotlight.
West’s visit to the White House was exactly the spectacle expected, distracting from a potential diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and the ongoing devastation of Hurricane Michael in Florida, where at least one city was reportedly razed hours before West went to Washington. And West, though known to make promises he can’t keep, seemed to guarantee that he’ll continue being a complementary figure for Trump, not competition.
When a reporter asked Trump about the possibility of a presidential candidate West, he said it “could very well be.”
“Only after 2024,” West added.