There’s never a dull moment in the world of eccentric rapper/producer/sneaker mogul Kanye West. After announcing on Saturday, July 4th via Twitter that he will run for president this year, West expounded on his intentions in a lengthy feature with Forbes published on Wednesday.
The Forbes piece, culled from “four rambling hours of interviews on Tuesday.” In addition to dispelling rumors about his presidential bid being a ruse to help Trump win by syphoning votes from Joe Biden (“Like anything I’ve ever done in my life, I’m doing to win”), West said he will be running as a member of the “Birthday Party” (“Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday”).
In addition to various stream-of-conscious comments on his beliefs and policies, West used the piece to publicly sever his notorious past support of President Donald Trump (“I am taking the red hat off, with this interview”). The comment comes in reference to the outspoken support he’s shown for Trump in recent years. In 2018, West even released a track entitled “Ye vs. the People” in which he debates with “the People” (voiced by fellow rapper T.I.) about his seemingly contradictory political views.
Kanye West, T.I. – “Ye vs. the People”
Back in April, West surprised no one by pledging to vote for Trump in 2020—which would mark his first time ever voting. When the protests began in late May, many fans wondered how Kanye would react as the President continued to take a hardline stance against the ongoing protests for justice and racial equality. In early June, West symbolically broke his silence on the matter with a $2M donation toward education for George Floyd’s daughter and medical bills for protestors. He was also photographed joining the protest marches in Chicago.
As West notes in the Forbes interview, “One of the main reasons I wore the red hat as a protest to the segregation of votes in the Black community”—a somewhat lucid take, until he followed that up with, “Also, other than the fact that I like Trump hotels and the saxophones in the lobby.”
Below are just a few of the most puzzling and eye-catching highlights of the unsurprisingly erratic “policy” conversation. As Kanye notes, “We’re not going crazy, we’re going Yeezy, it’s a whole ‘notha level now. N-O-T-H-A.”
Kanye West on the moment he decided to run for president:
“It’s when I was being offered the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awards at MTV. I remember being at my mom’s house, my mother-in-law, because my house was being worked on, she calls me ‘son’ and I call her ‘mom,’ I was in the shower thinking, I write raps in the shower. It hit me to say, ‘you’re going to run for president’ and I started laughing hysterically, I was like this is the best, I’m going to go out there and they’re going to think I’m going to do these songs and do this for entertainment, how rigged awards shows are, and then say I’m president. And I just laughed in the shower, I don’t know for how long, but that’s the moment it hit me.”
Kanye West on why he’s actually “walking,” not running, for office:
“I have to say with all humility that as a man, I don’t have all of the pieces in the puzzle. As I speak to you for what a political campaign—a political walk, as I told you, because I’m not running, I’m walking. I’m not running, we the people are walking. We’re not running anymore, we’re not running, we’re not excited—we are energized, Someone can say, ‘Hey, I got a brand new car for you, it’s across the street and you get so excited you run across the street and get hit by a car trying to run to your new car. That’s how they control the Black community, through emotions, they get us excited, we’re so excited, but then for 400 years the change doesn’t truly happen.
Kanye West on his political leanings:
“I would run as a Republican if Trump wasn’t there.”
Kanye West on who is “special”:
“I’m not saying Trump’s in my way, he may be a part of my way. And Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know? Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden’s not special.”
Kanye West on the notion that most Black people are Democrats:
“That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all Black people need to be Democrat and to assume that me running is me splitting the vote. All of that information is being charged up on social media platforms by Democrats. And Democrats used to tell me, the same Democrats have threatened me…. The reason why this is the first day I registered to vote is because I was scared. I was told that if I voted on Trump my music career would be over. I was threatened into being in one party. I was threatened as a celebrity into being in one party. I was threatened as a Black man into the Democratic party. And that’s what the Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people. Threatening them to the point where this white man can tell a Black man if you don’t vote for me, you’re not Black.”
Kanye West on modeling his presidency after Wakanda from Black Panther:
“A lot of Africans do not like the movie [Black Panther] and representation of themselves in…Wakanda. But I’m gonna use the framework of Wakanda right now because it’s the best explanation of what our design group is going to feel like in the White House…That is a positive idea: you got Kanye West, one of the most powerful humans—I’m not saying the most because you got a lot of alien level superpowers and it’s only collectively that we can set it free. Let’s get back to Wakanda… like in the movie in Wakanda when the king went to visit that lead scientist to have the shoes wrap around her shoes. Just the amount of innovation that can happen, the amount of innovation in medicine—like big pharma—we are going to work, innovate, together. This is not going to be some Nipsey Hussle being murdered, they’re doing a documentary, we have so many soldiers that die for our freedom, our freedom of information, that there is a cure for AIDS out there, there is going to be a mix of big pharma and holistic.”
Kanye West on who chooses the President:
“God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment.”
Kanye West on how we can beat the coronavirus, which he contracted in February:
“We pray. We pray for the freedom. It’s all about God. We need to stop doing things that make God mad.”
Kanye West on Black History Month
“Oh one other thing, Black History Month. That is torture porn…”
Read the full piece in Forbes here.