Kanye West turned in an unforgettable performance Thursday at the White House, but it was more jaw-dropping than awe-inspiring.
Before sitting down with President Donald Trump for a lunch meeting to discuss jobs, prison reform, and violence in this hometown of Chicago, West offered a rambling 10-minute speech to the White House press corps.
The hip-hop star appeared to savor the attention as he sat across from Trump, and was surrounded by the president’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, former NFL star Jim Brown, the attorney for an inmate serving time in federal prison and a small army of reporters and photographers.
West ranted, ventured off topic and touched on everything from Hillary Clinton to Superman.
The Jesus Walks rapper said he “loved Hillary” Clinton, who ran against Trump in 2016, because he loves everyone. But he said Clinton’s “I’m With Her” slogan didn’t work for him. Instead, he connected with Trump’s “male energy.”
The rapper also said when he puts on his red hat featuring Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, it makes him feel like “Superman.”
The gathering was bizarre, even by Kanye standards. Trump sat silently during most of West’s rant before finally saying, “I’ll tell you what, that was pretty impressive, folks.”
Here’s a breakdown of the rapper’s comments:
Kanye on 68-year-old prisoner Larry Hoover, whose case he discussed with Trump
Really, 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. So, there’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universe, and there’s alternate universe. So, it’s very important for me to get Hoover out because in an alternate universe, I am him and I have to go and get him free. Because he was doing positive inside Chicago just like I’m moving back to Chicago and it’s not just about, you know, getting on stage and being an entertainer and having a monolithic voice that’s forced to be a specific party, you know, people expect that if you’re black, you have to be Democrat.
Kanye on Hillary Clinton’s lack of male energy
I’m married to a family that, you know — not a lot of male energy going on. It’s beautiful though. But there’s times where, you know, it’s something about, you know, I love Hillary. I love everyone, right? But the campaign “I’m with her” just didn’t make me feel as a guy, that didn’t get to see my dad all the time, like a guy that could play catch with his son.
Kanye on his red MAGA hat
It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like superman. You made a Superman. That’s my favorite super hero. And you made a Superman cape for me. Also, as a guy who looks up to you, looks up to Ralph Lauren, who looks up to American industry guys, not political, no bulls—, put the bleep on it, however you want to do it, five seconds delay, and just goes in and gets it done.
Kanye on his personal business acumen and Adidas
Right now, you [Trump] gave me the heart to go to Adidas. Because at Adidas, when I went in in 2015, we were a $14 billion company losing $2 billion a year. Now, we have a $38 billion market cap. It’s called the Yeezy effect. I went to Casper, we had a meeting in Chicago. I said, you have to bring manufacturing onshore. Not even shore, into the core. It’s not about the borders, the core of Adidas and Chicago is the core of Middle America and we have to make Middle America strong.
So, I had the balls. Because I had the balls, because I have enough balls to put on this hat, this Adidas thing made me a billionaire. I could have lost 200 million dollars walking away from that deal. But I knew it was more important for me to take the chance of walking away from that deal than to have no fathers in Chicago with no homes and when we do have prison reformation — and it’s habilitation [sic], not rehabilitation, — because we had no abilities in the first place, cause we didn’t have anyone to teach us… it’s more important than any specific deal, anything, that we bring jobs into America and that we provide a transition with mental health and the American education curriculum that Jim has worked on, Larry Hoover also has a curriculum that he has worked on…
Kanye on the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery)
There’s a lot of things affecting our mental health that makes us do crazy things that puts us back into that trap door called the 13th Amendment. I did say abolish, with the hat on, because why would you keep something around that’s a trap door? If you’re building a floor, the Constitution is the base of our industry, of our country, of our company.
Would you build a trap door that if you mess up, and if accidentally something happens, you fall and you end up next to the Unabomber? You gotta remove all that trap door out of the relationship. The four gentleman that wrote the 13th Amendment — and I think the way the universe works it’s perfect, we don’t have 13 floors, do we? The four gentlemen that wrote the 13th Amendment, didn’t look like the people they were amending. Also at that point it was illegal for blacks to read, or African-Americans to read, so that meant if you actually read the amendment you’d get locked up and turned into a slave. Again, so what I think is we don’t need sentences, we need pardons, we need to talk to people.
Kanye on his mental health
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was connected with a neuro-psychologist that works with the athletes in the NBA and the NFL. And he looked at my brain. It’s equal in three parts. — I’m gonna to go ahead, drop some bombs on you. 98 percentile IQ test. I had a 75 percentile of all human beings. But it was counting eight numbers backwards off — I’m going to work on that one. The other one, 98%. Tesla, Ford, you know. So, he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar. I had sleep deprivation which can cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now, I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name.
Kanye on Trump
We have a good — and the thing is, let’s stop worrying about the future. All we really have is today. We just have today. Over and over and over again, the eternal returns, the hero’s journey and Trump is on his hero’s journey, right now.
NBC News posted video of the gathering. You can watch it below.