The latest wrinkle in the Kanye West political drama started with a $25 piece of merchandise but ended as a tempest in a T-shirt.
Candace Owens, the conservative who’s leading an initiative she dubbed “Blexit,” urging black Democrats to leave the party, on Wednesday apologized to rapper Kanye West for the “rumor” that he had designed a line of “Blexit” merchandise, and suggested that she — not President Trump — was to blame for West’s dramatic renouncement of all things politics.
After news stories crediting West for the shirts circulated this weekend, the rapper and Trump supporter announced over Twitter on Tuesday that he had been “used” and that he was distancing himself from politics altogether.
On Wednesday, Owens denied saying that West had designed the merchandise, though a New York Post reporter quoted her as saying West had “created” the logo and the color scheme: The shirts, in hues of lilac, orange and teal, have the name of the movement, with the “X” formed by the shape of a human with outstretched arms and legs. Still, in a lengthy blog post, she offered a mea culpa.
“Kanye was completely right to feel used in that regard and as I have done personally, I would like to publicly apologize to him for any undue stress or pain the effort to correct that rumor has caused him, his business relationships, or his family,” Owens wrote. “He simply never designed them.”
Owens went on to say that West’s broader decision to walk away from politics had nothing to do with Trump, who has enjoyed the rapper’s adulation.
“I would also like to publicly apologize to President Trump, as I know that Kanye’s tweets were rapidly misinterpreted as a shot to this administration,” she wrote. “His tweets were aimed at me and me only, rightfully, for my personal failings.”
The drama started this past weekend at a meeting of young black conservatives in Washington sponsored by Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit for which Owens is a spokeswoman. Owens introduced the movement and its merchandise by giving a shout-out to the rap star: “Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West.”
But soon after, Owens offered an initial attempt to walk back that statement, saying in a message posted to Twitter on Monday that she had merely sought West’s design advice and that she had only said West was responsible for the “X” in the design. “Everyone who knows him asks him for advice on design,” she wrote. “Ye supports various people in different regards.” She wrote that “Blexit is a project that is mine entirely” and that West had merely hooked her up with a designer who, despite having “different beliefs,” came up with the logo.
But West said differently. “I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn’t want their name on it so she used mine,” he tweeted Tuesday. “I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it.”
He didn’t stop there. “My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in,” he tweeted. “I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!”
That’s quite a turnabout for West, who has practically made controversial-political-statements-that-tick-off-his-fans a part of his carefully curated brand. West has called slavery a choice, called for the 13th Amendment to be abolished and has professed fervent support for fellow “dragon energy”-haver Donald Trump, a mutual admiration that was capped off with a bizarre meeting in the Oval Office in early October.
But it looks like we shouldn’t expect any more of that from Ye, who will (maybe) just stick to making music and designing — his own — T-shirts.