Here are five times West used his platform as an A-list performer to reflect on matters of state
When Kanye West turned his 12-minute Video Music Awards acceptance speech into a presidential campaign announcement Sunday, he managed to shock an audience accustomed to wild moments. (How about that Nicki–Taylor makeup turned Nicki-Miley feud?)
But the world shouldn’t be that surprised that West, 38, has political ambitions. As the rapper put it, “Yes, you probably could have guessed in this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
In honor of his maybe sincere bid to hold the highest office in the nation, here are five times West used his platform as an A-list performer to reflect on matters of state:
In September 2005, West appeared in NBC’s A Concert for Hurricane Relief to raise money to rebuild New Orleans, which had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Standing beside comedian Mike Myers (who proved his best impression is “deer in the headlights”), West went off script, ignoring the teleprompter to criticize racist coverage of the tragedy and the government’s delayed response to giving aid on the ground.
“I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. You see a white family, it says they’re looking for food,” he began.
Minutes later came the whammy: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” West apologized in 2010, but the comment has become a seminal part of pop culture and one of the first examples of West’s unapologetic candor.
There’s nothing sexy about midterm elections, and the bevy of celebrities who rally around presidential nominees doesn’t tend to swarm congressional elections. But in November 2014, West took to Twitter to encourage his millions of followers to hit the polls hours before they closed, calling the midterms “extremely important.”
A fellow Chicagoan and supporter of Barack Obama, West put the president on “Love Lockdown” when POTUS denied calling him up on the reg. “Obama calls the home phone, by the way,” West had bragged.
Obama also called West a “jackass” in 2009 after he infamously interrupted national treasure Swift’s VMAs acceptance speech, but after this year, it seems even Yeezy regretfully agrees with that assessment. (“If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else’s?” North West‘s dad reflected. Aw!)
What’s harder to overcome is Obama’s 2012 jab that he prefers Jay Z’s music. Despite their ups and downs, counting the current leader of the free world as a frenemy has got to earn West some clout in D.C. circles.
“600,000 people rallied for justice on Dec. 13th,” he wrote. And given his past comments and even lyrics about racial issues, it’s clearly a cause close to his heart.
West doesn’t intend on running for president until after Hillary Clinton gives it a go in 2016, and he and wife Kim Kardashian West are big supporters of the potentially history-making politico. Both have endorsed Clinton, and Kimye scored a coveted selfie with her at a star-studded fundraiser hosted by Scooter Braun earlier this month.