Another surreal moment in White House history played out as rapper Kanye West, sporting his favourite MAGA hat, regaled the US President with an excitable and wide-ranging monologue.
West’s outspoken support for Trump has alarmed and saddened many but the rapper and cultural icon doubled down on his love for the President in his visit.
Sporting the red ‘Make America Great Again’ that has become a staple of his wardrobe, West said the hat makes him “feel like Superman”. At one point, he said “I love this guy right here” and walked around the desk to hug Trump.
— Variety (@Variety) October 11, 2018
Kanye’s monologue was a stream of consciousness soliloquy covering liberalism, trade, masculinity and alternate universes
Initially West was invited to a working lunch to discuss prison reform and gang-related violence but surprised Trump with a monologue that left the President in the unfamiliar role of nodding and smiling as someone else spoke.
“It’s very important for me to get Hoover (Larry Hoover, a man serving a life sentence for murder) out because in an alternate universe, I am him,” West said at one point.
In one particularly bizarre tangent, West turned his attention to something called the ‘iPlane’. He said the President should be using a hydrogen-powered airplane and unlocked his phone to show images of said aircraft. Later reports have identified the images on West’s phone as a concept piece designed as part of a student’s master’s thesis project.
Overheard in the White House press room after reporters left a rambling Oval Office pool spray with President Trump and Kanye West: "Working here is officially insane."
— Andrew Restuccia (@AndrewRestuccia) October 11, 2018
Touching on his own apparent presidential ambitions, West said he may run after Trump’s term potentially ends in 2024, but did not go into detail on this idea. “Let’s stop worrying about the future, all we have is today,” he said.
“Trump is on his hero’s journey right now,” he continued. “He might not have thought he’d have a crazy motherf***er like me.”
About the only thing that seemed to temporarily interrupt the bromance was West’s criticism of stop-and-frisk being used by police in his native Chicago.
“We feel that stop-and-frisk does not help the relationships in the city,” he said. “Everyone that knew I was coming here said to ask about stop-and-frisk. That’s the number one thing that we’re having this conversation about.”
“That was quite something,” Trump told the gathered reporters when West’s speech ended.
Kanye: “There’s infinite amounts of universe and there’s alternate universe.”
Trump: “I’ll tell you what, that was pretty impressive.” https://t.co/WAOjX50Cf4
— Slate (@Slate) October 11, 2018
Kanye West has broken ranks with the entertainment industry to embrace Trump
His support for Trump goes against the grain of the entertainment industry which traditionally sides with the Democrats and has been vociferously opposed to the current administration.
Previously, West had offered a searing critique of George W. Bush’s presidency, famously announcing Bush “doesn’t care about black people” during a telethon. His decision to throw his lot in with a President who refused to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesburg, Virginia, has perplexed many.
“There was something about when I put this [MAGA] hat on it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman, that’s my favorite superhero, you made a Superman cape for me.” https://t.co/w7AbxGHt6e
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 11, 2018
Trump has struggled to connect with black voters
Trump has recently boasted of his rising popularity in the African-American community but any surge in support is coming off a very low base. In August 2018, CNN reported Trump’s approval rating was only 9% among black voters. His disapproval rating among black voters was 85%.
He has also been involved in ongoing disputes with prominent black athletes including NFL players who kneel to protest the American anthem and LeBron James, who he criticised as “dumb”.
Trump had previously commuted the life sentence of convicted drug dealer Alice Marie Johnson after Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, visited the White House to make a personal appeal to the President on the issue.
Shortly before West’s visit, Trump signed the Music Modernization Act into law. The legislation aims to deliver more revenue to musicians through royalties and licensing arising from plays on music streaming platforms.
Header image credit: Jason Persse