Kanye West, already famous for his artistic innovation, recently did something unique on the late-night talk show circuit. He didn’t answer a question.
In an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” the host said, “You so famously and so powerfully said ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people.’ It makes me wonder, what makes you think that Donald Trump does?” In response, West didn’t speak off the top of his head or dive into a prepared anecdote. Instead, as he described on Twitter, he “took time to think.”
Kimmel cut to commercial break in the ensuing silence, and West never finished his thought. Not until Wednesday, when he finally answered the question in a surprise appearance on Chicago’s WGCI 107.5.
Let’s rewind: Why was he asked in the first place?
Many events, which have been exhaustively catalogued, led to this question. In case you forgot: After being relatively quiet since canceling a 2016 concert mid-show and being subsequently hospitalized, West hopped back on Twitter in spring, where he announced he was writing a philosophy book before tweeting that his tweets were the philosophy book, which he was writing in real time. He then proclaimed his admiration for President Trump and Trump-adjacent people like Candace Owens, visited the TMZ newsroom and declared slavery a choice (on the part of the slaves) and pumped out five middling-to-great records in Wyoming and appeared on “Family Feud.” That led him to Kimmel’s chair and his silence.
On Wednesday, West indeed gave a thoughtful answer, claiming that Trump — driven by ego — doesn’t especially care about black people but instead about what the black community thinks of him.
“I feel that [Trump] cares about the way black people feel about him, and he would like for black people to like him like they did when he was cool in the rap songs and all this,” West said. “He will do the things that are necessary to make that happen because he’s got an ego like all the rest of us, and he wants to be the greatest president, and he knows that he can’t be the greatest president without the acceptance of the black community. So it’s something he’s gonna work toward, but we’re gonna have to speak to him.”
Throughout his interview with the radio station, West also discussed his TMZ rant in detail.
Around the time that his unusual behavior began peaking, West disclosed that he has bipolar disorder. The handwritten words “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome” adorned the cover of “Ye,” his newest record. In the interview, he discussed how his mental illness played a role in the now-infamous TMZ appearance.
“The thing about being called crazy, the biggest stigma that has to be broken is that you instantly get written off. But you might be the only one who knows what they’re talking about,” West said, adding: “I have never really approached or addressed the slavery comment fully. And it’s not something for me to overly intellectualize.”
“This is something about the fact that it hurt people’s feelings and the way that I presented that piece of information. I could present in a way more calm way, but I was ramped up,” he continued.
Finally, he apologized, not just for his commentary on slavery but for posting a photo to Twitter of an autographed “Make America Great Again” hat.
“I apologize. That happens sometimes when people are — I’m not blaming mental health, but I’m explaining mental health,” West said. “I don’t know if I properly apologized for how the slavery comment made people feel. I’m sorry for the one-two effect of the MAGA hat into the slave comment, and I’m sorry for people that felt let down by that moment. And I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk to you about the way I was thinking and what I was going through.”
Later in the interview, West broke down crying when talking about his longtime collaborator Don C, a Chicago clothing designer who was close with West during the beginning of his career. He talked about how others around him might be using him for money as opposed to Don C, whom he considers a true friend.
“The people who were around and are starting to make money, they just didn’t care about me as much,” he said. “Because Kanye West was an entity, a moneymaking machine, and you get into that situation and you don’t have people that are continuously looking out for your best interests at all costs. Because I even had people that was with me at TMZ that could have stopped it. That could have said, ‘Yo, this is going too far.’ ”
“I believe that the downfall of Kanye West is directly related to Don C not being around,” he added. “Don is actually … he’s actually in town right now because I just told him I need him. To be there for me, so [stuff] like this doesn’t happen to me.”