Rapper Kanye West is scheduled to have lunch with President Donald Trump at the White House today. The meeting is just the latest turn in an unexpected friendship between the former New York real estate mogul and the Chicago musician.
Here is a brief history of West’s outspoken support of Trump.
Prior to the rise of Trump
Prior to Donald Trump’s foray into politics, West has had a contentious relationship with former presidents. During a telethon to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, West famously went off-script to tell viewers that then-President George Bush “doesn’t care about black people.”
West had a hot-and-cold relationship Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama. The Chicagoan reportedly consulted with West and rapper Jay-Z during his presidential campaign in 2008. But after West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, Obama reportedly called West a “jackass” in an off-the-record comment to ABC News reporter Terry Moran. Following the report, West said he felt “used” by Obama.
“I don’t care if somebody’s the president or not. I care about thoughts and how you helping people and what you bring to the world,” West said, according to Billboard.
West says he would have voted for Trump, meets with him during transition
West did not endorse either Trump or Hillary Clinton prior to the 2016 presidential election. On Nov. 17, days after Trump’s victory, West told a San Jose crowd during his “Saint Pablo Tour” that he did not vote, but if he did, he “would have voted for Trump.” West cited Trump’s speaking style as the reason for his support.
Shortly after he announced his support for Trump, West was hospitalized for a stint with exhaustion. After his recovery, West visited the President-elect and Trump Tower during the transition. He later tweeted that he and Trump discussed “multicultural issues.”
Return to Twitter, retweets from Trump
After an extended hiatus from social media, West re-activated his accounts in the spring of 2018 as rumors of new albums swirled — and his newfound political activism became a staple of his posts.
Throughout April and May, West occasionally used his platform to share his support of Trump with his followers. He donned MAGA caps, posed for a photo with Trump supporter and “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, and shared articles from right-wing media sites.
West even received a couple retweets from Trump himself (note: West has since deleted his Twitter account).
Thank you Kanye, very cool! https://t.co/vRIC87M21X
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018
West released a number of projects in the summer of 2018 and didn’t shy away from referencing the President in his lyrics.
“If you ain’t drivin’ while Black, do they stop you? Will MAGA hats let me slide like a drive-thru?” West rapped on “Would Would Meek Do?” by Pusha-T.
On his own album, “Ye,” West dropped a couple of Trump-related lines:
“Uh, just a different type of leader, we could be in North Korea, I could smoke with Wiz Khalifa, uh.” (Yikes)
“If I pull up with a Kerry Washington, that’s gon’ be an enormous scandal, I could have Naomi Campbell. and still might want me a Stormy Daniels.” (All Mine)
West’s wife visits White House
While West wooed the President with tweets and lyrics, Kim Kardashian — reality star and West’s wife — used her pull to score White House meetings. During the summer of 2018, Kardashian visited the White House twice, calling for prison reform and pardons of criminals wrongfully accused.
Following Kardashian’s meeting at the White House, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a Tennessee woman who spent more than 20 years in prison on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges.
West took his support for Trump to television in September when he performed on the “Saturday Night Live” season premiere in September. West donned a “MAGA” cap during his performance and gave an impassioned pro-Trump speech following his performance on the show that famously skewers Trump week-to-week.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.