WASHINGTON (AP) – Live from the Oval Office, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance.
The rapper didn’t rap. But, seated across from President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a rambling, multipart monologue that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more.
Seizing the spotlight from the typically center-stage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals – and went in for a hug.
“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said of his red “Make America Great Again” cap. But, he said, “This hat, it gives me power in a way.”
“You made a Superman cape for me,” he told Trump.
It was a surreal scene even by the standards of a nonconventional White House. The unlikely allies spoke to reporters before a closed-door lunch that had been billed as a forum to discuss policy issues including manufacturing, gangs, prison reform and violence in Chicago, where West grew up. Spectators at the show included Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, former NFL star Jim Brown, the attorney for a gang leader serving time in federal prison, and a gaggle of reporters.
During one pause, Trump seemed to acknowledge the oddness of the moment, saying, “That was quite something.”
West’s mental health has been a question of speculation since he was hospitalized in 2016. In a bizarre performance last month on “Saturday Night Live” he delivered an unscripted pro-Trump message after the credits rolled.
Addressing the topic Thursday, West said he had at one point been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but was later told by a neuropsychologist he’d been misdiagnosed.
“So he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar; I had sleep deprivation, which could cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now, where I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name,” he said.
The conversation began with an exchange on North Korea among Trump, Brown and West. Trump said the region was headed for war before he took over, and West commended him for stopping it.
Brown said he liked North Korea; Trump agreed.
From there, West discussed prison reform and violence in inner-city Chicago. He brought up Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gangster Disciples who is serving a life sentence for murder, claiming: “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.”