Kanye West delivers a surreal Oval Office show
Live from the Oval Office, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance.
The rapper didn’t rap. But, seated across from US President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a multipart rambling monologue yesterday that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more.
Seizing the spotlight from the typically centerstage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals — and went in for a hug.
“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said of his red Make America Great Again cap. But, he said, “This hat, it gives me power in a way. You made a Superman cape for me,” he told Trump.
It was a surreal scene even by the standards of a unconventional White House. The unlikely allies spoke to reporters before a closeddoor lunch that had been billed as a forum to discuss policy issues including manufacturing, gangs, prison reform and violence in Chicago, where West grew up. Spectators at the show included Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, former NFL star Jim Brown and the attorney for a gang leader serving time in federal prison.
During one pause, Trump seemed to acknowledge the oddness of the moment, saying: “That was quite something”.
The conversation began with an exchange on North Korea among Trump, Brown and West. Trump said the region was headed for war before he took over, and West commended him for stopping it. Brown said he liked North Korea; Trump agreed.
From there, West discussed prison reform and violence in inner-city Chicago. He brought up Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gangster Disciples who is serving a life sentence for murder, claiming, “The reason why they imprisoned him is because he started doing positive for the community. He started showing that he actually had power, he wasn’t just one of a monolithic voice, that he could wrap people around.” West said he “loved Hillary” Clinton, Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, because he loves everyone, but said he connected with Trump’s “male energy”. He also criticised the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, calling it a “trap door”. At one point, West mentioned he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but later said it was a misdiagnosis and he actually had sleep deprivation.
Holding out his phone, West showed Trump a picture of a hydrogen-powered plane that he thought should replace Air Force One.
“This right here is the iPlane 1,” he said. “This is what our president should be flying.” Added West: “If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest” and have “the flyest planes”. West also had a sartorial suggestion for Trump, proposing a hat that says just “Make America Great” — dropping the “again”. At the end of West’s lengthy, sometimes-hardto-follow dialogue, even Trump seemed at a loss.
“I tell you what: That was pretty impressive,” the President said.