It's been a crazy year for Kanye West. First he spent months commenting on contentious issues like the 13th Amendment and expressing support for President Trump. Then he ended October 2018 with a near-total reversal, renouncing politics as well as certain unnamed persons he said "used" him.
But that's just par for the course for the rapper, who has a long history of stirring things up, politically speaking. Let's review 13 times Kanye West fanned the flames of political strife.
Hurricane Katrina – Sept. 2005
During a televised NBC benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, West seemingly went off-script when he angrily called out then-U.S. president George W. Bush for his handling of the unfolding disaster. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” the rapper blurted out, leaving his co-presenter, “Shrek” and “Austin Powers” star Mike Myers, looking pretty surprised.
Kim Kardashian vs. Michelle Obama – Oct. 2013During an appearance on “On Air With Ryan Secrest” Kanye defended his wife Kim Kardashian's fitness to attend the annual Met Gala by dissing then-first lady Michelle Obama's recent appearance on the cover of Vogue. “No one is looking at what [the president] is wearing. Michelle Obama cannot Instagram a [sexy swimsuit] pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day,” West said on air.
Kanye Claims the Stars and Bars for Himself– Jun. 2015
Ahead of his Yeezus tour, Ye angered a lot of people when he unveiled tour merch bearing Confederate flags. “The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way,” Kanye West said in an AMP 7.1 interview. “So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.”
'Famous' Music Video – Jun. 2016
The rapper's infamous video featured a fully nude digitally recreated Donald Trump (among many other people). Alas, Trump didn't comment on his NSFW portrayal.
"I would have voted for Trump" – Nov. 2016 Nearly 11 years after denouncing George W. Bush, Kanye got political again, this time by expressing support for Donald Trump during a 24-minute interlude at the San Jose stop on his Saint Pablo Tour. "He wasn’t even in politics and he won," West told a crowd of confused concertgoers. "That shows you the level of possibility that’s out there," said Yeezy to plenty of boos. Of course, the rapper didn't actually vote that year, he just said he would have voted for Trump if he had voted. Maybe Trump will return the favor if Ye actually ends up running for president in 2024.
Kanye at Trump Towers –Dec. 2016
Not too long after Trump won the election, West met with him at Trump Tower in New York. "We’ve been friends for a long time," the president told members of the press. West stood next to the president in silence only stating, "I just want to take a picture right now."
A MAGA Hat Signed by Trump – April 2018 Kanye turned himself into a meme after he bragged on Twitter about owning a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by President Trump. Ye insisted that he didn't "agree with everything Trump does," but that didn't stop his followers on social media from making a ton of jokes about the "sunken place," a biting reference to Jordan Peele’s hit horror film "Get Out."
TMZ Studio Visit – May 2018
During a surprise appearance on the celebrity gossip show, Kanye made his now-infamous comment that hundreds of years of slavery was "a choice." Shortly after, TMZ producer Charles Latibeaudiere called Kanye "an under-medicated, mentally unstable megalomaniac."
Live From New York, Kanye Gives Pro-Trump Rant – Sept. 2018
During a surprise third-musical performance on the "Saturday Night Live" season premiere, Kanye West donned his red MAGA hat. And after the cameras stopped, he ranted in support for President Trump -- to much booing from the crowd. Later on, cast member Kenan Thompson said, "I don’t know if that's the moment necessarily to hold people hostage like that."
MAGA and Abolishing the 13th – Sept. 2018
Just a couple of days after his "SNL" appearance, Ye tweeted, “We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment,” attached with a photo of him in a MAGA hat. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, though many activists oppose its provision that prisoners can be used for unpaid labor.
A 'MAGA' Hat for a Cape – Oct. 2018West made headlines again with a truly weird visit with Donald Trump at the Oval Office. Though the two were set to discuss prison reform, West told President Trump that wearing his Make America Great Again hat made him "feel like Superman." "You made a superman cape for me," the rapper said.
"Blexit" Drama – Oct. 2018
On Oct. 27 at a conservative conference, pro-Trump activist Candace Owens unveiled merch for her self-styled “Blexit” campaign, urging black voters to abandon the Democratic Party. Owens took pains to strongly associate Kanye with the campaign, telling Page Six that he designed the campaign's X-shaped stick figure logo, and stating that the rapper was at the conference "in spirit." But maybe not: Just two days later, Owens clarified in a statement on Twitter that West only designed the logo, and is not otherwise involved in the campaign.That wasn't the end of it, however...
Kanye Renounces Politics -- Oct. 2018On Oct. 30, West categorically denied any involvement in "Blexit" at all, tweeting, "I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn’t want their name on it so she used mine. I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it." Then in a follow up tweet, Ye renounced politics -- and certain unnamed people -- entirely. "My eyes are now wide open and now realize I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in," he said. But has Kanye West's political flame-fanning finally come to an end? Only time will tell.