By Zoe Stratos | Staff Columnist
On Thursday Oct. 11, President Trump invited popular rap artist Kanye West to the Oval Office to discuss important topics like sentencing reform. However, they talked about anything but the supposedly planned subjects.
Surrounded by the press’ flashing cameras and microphones capturing every word, people from all over the country witnessed what could only be described as a freak show: an incoherent, loud and boisterous performance put on by the rapper while the president sat idly across from him smiling and nodding. Nothing like good entertainment to distract Trump himself and the world from Hurricane Michael relief and the looming murders of a U.S. citizen and journalist within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Like most others watching the spectacle on TV, I laughed at the nonsense Kanye was spewing throughout the meeting with Trump; however unlike some others, I happened to notice the manipulation behind bringing a top selling African-American rapper to the White House for a meeting. It was a way for the president to increase popularity among not only the youth, but African Americans; a group largely opposed to the Trump administration. You could even go as far to say it was a way for him to disingenuously show his attention to the prison system and its mistreatment of drug crimes committed by African Americans.
During the 2016 elections, Trump was accused of being racist throughout his life as a businessman and reality TV star, even being sued by the Department of Justice for racial discrimination in the 1970s. The claims of racism stem all the way up to the present with him calling for bans on Muslim immigration, as well as stating that the U.S. should accept more people from countries like Norway —predominantly Caucasian countries.
To combat said instances, Trump invited Kanye to ultimately show his friendship with a popular and influential African American man and to discuss things Kanye knows little to nothing about, and it showed.
Upon arriving, Kanye modeled his red “Make America Great Again” hat, claiming it makes him feel like “Superman” and that the I’m With Her campaign just didn’t give him that feeling as a male. That act alone broadcasted across the nation can influence fans of the super star to support who he supports: a clear goal Trump wants to emphasize.
“People expect that if you’re black you have to be democrat,” Kanye said during the meeting.
Also during their conversation, Kanye went on a ten-minute rant referencing his own brand, the Unabomber, abolishing the 13th Amendment, his own discovery of sleep deprivation, and a hydrogen powered plane. He then went on to explain how all of these ideas, plus insourcing the manufacturing of his shoe brand called Yeezy’s in Chicago factories can bring jobs and lower prison rates in the US — all the while spewing profanities that had to be cut out for TV appropriateness.
This is where the second exploitation ploy comes in. Kanye may very well also be doing interviews and posting about the president to attract attention from the media, fans, and haters — just like Trump. Publicly involving oneself in current events calls for attention; it’s no coincidence Kanye also released his new chart topping album Ye in June of this year.
According to Billboard.com, Ye is Kanye’s eighth number one album on the Billboard top 200 chart, ties the record for most number ones in a row, is the fifth biggest week of the year, and is the seventh largest streaming debut week ever.
Later on in the meeting, they opened up for questioning from the press.
“What would you like to ask President Trump to do for Chicago?” a Chicago Sun Times reporter asked. “You’re here to talk about crime in Chicago.”
Rather than simply answering her question with another question for the president, Kanye, after saying people wanted him to ask about stopping frisking, again resorted to ranting about his accomplishments and insisting the installation of Yeezy — his own shoe brand — factories within his hometown of Chicago will lower prison rates. He later even talked about rebranding the MAGA slogan to only read “Make America Great,” as he already manufactured hats donning the “improved” slogan.
It can definitely be assumed that both Kanye and Trump are only using each other for the publicity they don’t receive in their respective fan bases. A Caucasian politician and an African American rapper sitting equally across a table speaking about policy and consequently having lunch isn’t something the world sees everyday.
The truth of the matter is, though, their publicity has skyrocketed. Segments about the meeting have already appeared on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and just about every news channel in the country. Even people on social media have joined the conversation either praising or condemning the two men. Some are taking it as far as making memes out of the conversation, specifically when Kanye typed in his phone password: 000000.
Whatever the true reason may be for these two men from opposite worlds getting together, they really know how to put on a show, entertain and distract the world from more important things going on. If their true purpose really is to put themselves in the spotlight and gain publicity, they do a good job.