'I love this guy': Kanye West swoons over Donald Trump on his first White House visit
Kanye West met President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss prison reform and left the president speechless after delivering a long, profanity-infused rant
Rap megastar Kanye West loves Donald Trump and proved it in dramatic fashion Thursday, leaping from his seat at a White House meeting to hug the president. "I love this guy," Kanye declared in the Oval Office.
The rapper had been invited to lunch to discuss prison reform but turned what was would ordinarily have been a staid White House photo-op into what must have been one of the most unusual encounters in the Oval Office's storied history.
Talking at speed on everything from Trump's protectionist trade polices to black gun crime and "infinite amounts of universe," Kanye left the normally talkative president almost speechless with his performance.
"That was quite something," Trump said at the end Kanye's freewheeling soliloquy.
"It was from the soul. I just channeled it," the musician said, adding — to gasps from presidential staff — that Trump "might not have expected to have a crazy motherfucker like Kanye West supporting him."
The rapper, who has broken ranks with much of the left-leaning entertainment industry to come out in support of Trump, even said he could be president himself — but "only after" Trump in 2024.
West — best known as Kanye but recently stating that he wants to be known as Ye — is one of the mold-breaking president's more unusual supporters.
"I like him a lot," Trump said Thursday in an interview on the TV show Fox and Friends. "A genius."
Kanye has returned the love, bucking left-leaning showbiz trends to come out as a Trump supporter, complete with the red Make America Great Again baseball cap most often seen at the president's rowdy election campaign rallies — where blacks are often hard to spot.
Trump not only relies on a heavily white political base but is locked in an ugly dispute with several black NFL football players who have knelt down during the playing of the US national anthem to protest racial inequality.
Last year, Trump was heavily criticized for what appeared to be his lukewarm condemnation of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
But he's working hard to flip that narrative ahead of congressional midterm elections next month.
His stump speech includes repeated boasts about record low unemployment for African Americans and he is touting the need for reform of the prison system, where blacks are about 38 percent of inmates, despite being only 13 percent of the US population.
Getting in with the Kardashians
As recently as August, Trump seemed to be digging himself a large hole among African Americans when he got into a Twitter war with basketball great and black icon LeBron James.
But in his Fox interview, Trump said that Kanye's support had transformed blacks' view of his presidency.
"When Kanye came out a couple months ago, something happened," Trump said. "Nobody (has) ever seen it. He has a big following in the African-American community, a big, big following ... The polls went through the roof."
Previously, Kanye's reality TV star wife Kim Kardashian has visited the White House to press, successfully, for Trump to grant clemency to Alice Johnson, a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for nonviolent drug crimes.
Trump raised her case again Thursday as an example of why the prison system needs urgent change.
Kanye's "terrific" wife opened his eyes, Trump said.
"We do need reform. That doesn't mean easy. We're going to make certain categories tougher when it comes to drug dealing and other things, but there has to be a reform because it is very unfair right now," he said.
"It is very unfair to African-Americans."
With AFP inputs