Kanye West proudly sported a “Make America Great Again” cap as he sat opposite US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday, comparing the commander-in-chief to Superman.
But the rapper said his reasons for being there had much to do with societal problems like gun violence and prison reform.
West, one of few mainstream artists who openly supports Trump, was at the White House to have lunch with the president and to meet with Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner. But before their private meeting, West held reporters’ and Trump’s attention during a bizarre 10-minute rant that covered everything from racism to his open adoration for Trump.
“It was something about when I put this hat on,” West said pointing to the red baseball cap with the white letters. “It made me feel like Superman. That’s my favourite superhero.”
The monologue, at times incoherent, drew nods and a tight-lipped smile from Trump. After West said the public probably did not expect a “crazy motherfucker” such as himself to support him, Trump responded, “That was pretty impressive.”
He then turned to retired professional football star Jim Brown, who accompanied West to the White House, and asked if he wanted to say something. “I’m here to help,” said Brown, 82, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
West, 41, said he hoped to “release the love through the country” and he dismissed comments about racism, saying, “You are tasting a fine wine. It has complex notes to it.”
Asked what he thought of West’s comments, Trump said the rapper could “speak for me any time he wants. He’s a smart cookie. He gets it.”
The Grammy Award-winning West said his comments were “from the soul. I just channelled it.”
He also said he brought a new version of the “MAGA” cap with him to the White House bearing the phrase “Make America Great.” He said he would love to see Trump and former professional football quarterback Colin Kaepernick each wearing the hat.
“We can learn how to be malleable,” West said. “We don’t have to stick to our traditions.”
Kaepernick has led a controversial protest against police violence by urging fellow football players to kneel during the national anthem. Trump bitterly criticized the demonstration, calling it unpatriotic and saying the players who do it should be fired.
Among the serious topics Trump and West were to discuss was prison reform, gang violence and bringing manufacturing jobs to the United States.
West, a native of Chicago, said he opposed the policy of stop and frisk, which is controversial because police use it to stop anyone they believed has committed or is about to commit a crime.
West said stop and frisk, which Trump said Chicago should implement to help control crime in the city, was the main thing his conversation with Trump would cover.
Trump said he was open to talking about stop and frisk and discussing a different solution.
“I think it’s a shame what’s happening” in Chicago, where street violence claims about two lives every day. But he said people are not respecting law enforcement and that “certainly should not be happening.”
West earlier this year was criticized for a series of tweets in which he posted a photo of a signed “Make America Great Again” hat and called Trump his brother.
In the Oval Office he hugged the president and he told Trump he loved him.
West also said he was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier this year, saying he discovered his problems were caused by sleep deprivation.
He also explained that his support for Trump is tied to he lack of a father figure growing up, saying there was not “a lot of male energy” in his home then or now in his marriage to Kim Kardashian.