Last night Kanye West endorsed Donald Trump from the comfort of his own home, also known as a stage in front of thousands of people which ultimately became millions. I mean, the math is simple. Famously incendiary black rapper + endorsement of famous racist white politician = international headlines = more fame and money.
You remembered that he’s on tour, right? I forgot (am mildly surprised he let me) but we’re back at it: “[I]f I would’ve voted, I would’ve voted on Trump,” he shouted into the crowd. “I actually think that his approach was absolutely genius. Because it fucking worked!”
I wonder if the crowd was so quiet you could hear a $300 beige hat drop or if people went “wooooooooo………..” because they felt obligated to fill the silence. If anyone could get a bunch of probably liberal kids to cheer for Trump, it’d have to be the human-shaped pile of contradictions that is Kanye West. “There’s nonpolitical methods to speaking that I like, that I feel were very futuristic,” he went on. “And that style, and that method of communication, has proven that it can beat a politically correct way of communication. And I fuck with that.”
Let’s do the comparison. Trump and Kanye: similar means, different ends? (We hope). They’re both a little loutish, both exploit our attention and emotion by saying the unexpected, both malign the establishment while benefiting from it. Kanye defining Trump’s approach as genius is, in some ways, defining his own approach as genius. To the ego-driven, admiration and comparison swim in the same pond, are practically the same fish. Don’t forget Kanye’s compared himself to Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Harry Truman, Henry Ford, Walt Disney.
Here’s how he further substantiated his would-have-been vote: “Specifically to black people, stop focusing on racism. This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much. It’s just a fucking fact. Not one or the other candidate was going to instantly be able to change that because of they fucking views.”
A generous interpretation of Kanye’s words says that he likes how Trump’s win finally exposed our country for what it is: largely racist and xenophobic; it’s better to face it than hide from it. But still, an untouchable millionaire celebrity asking people to stop focusing on racism? Ugh.
His closing point was better, but perhaps palliative: “Sometimes things that you might think are bad have to happen, in order for change to fucking happen. Sometimes you might have to not get your way to really understand what to do in the future, to be able to get your way.”
We can’t know if Kanye is really a fan of Trump or a fan of what Trump’s success means for him (or the world, if we believe in Kanye as altruist). But we do know which one will give him headlines. I hope people take his comments with that very large grain of salt.
While we’re on the topic, read about the train wreck that was Yeezy Season 4.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Live Nation.