Kanye West promised that a new album would arrive Saturday. Instead, he delivered three songs as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” and an impromptu monologue at the end of the show mentioning President Donald Trump.
West, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, continued his foray into off-the-cuff political commentary after the credits rolled for the season premiere, delivering a scattered speech that was cut off from some broadcasts. In footage from the crowd posted to comedian Chris Rock’s Instagram account, West can be seen musing on his support of Trump and urging, “We need to have a dialogue and not a diatribe.”
West, who is known for delivering similarly improvised addresses during his concerts, said he is often asked how he can support Trump because “he’s racist.” “If I was concerned about racism,” West said, “I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago.” He said Democrats were responsible for a plan to take “fathers out the home and promote welfare.” The rapper also mentioned his long-teased presidential aspirations for 2020 and referred to the “one-sided” liberal nature of the entertainment world as the “SNL” cast stood stoically behind him.
“Follow your heart and stop following your mind,” West said. “That’s how we’re controlled. That’s how we’re programmed. If you want the world to move forward, try love. Thank y’all for giving me this platform.”
NBC declined to comment.
Like many of West’s recent actions, the performance instantly became an issue. Questlove, the drummer for the Roots, the rap group that also serves as the in-house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” wrote on Twitter: “Welp.” He pointed his followers to Rock’s video and added, “I’m going to sleep. I’m done man. Done.”
Rap producer Swizz Beatz, in a video posted to social media, addressed West and his Make America Great Again hat in unkind (and mostly unprintable) terms. “You’ve got to stop,” he said, arguing that Trump was “blatantly hurting our people.”
West has found himself at odds with many of his hip-hop peers since he visited with Trump in 2016 after the election, and reaffirmed his appreciation for him earlier this year in the run-up to an album, “Ye.” “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him,” he wrote on Twitter in April. “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
Some conservatives, including Trump himself, have praised West for his position. “Thank you Kanye for your support,” the president wrote on Twitter. “It is making a big difference!” And he spoke up on Twitter Sunday afternoon, calling the show “no longer funny” and a “political ad for the Dems,” but giving a shout out to West. “Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told “no”), was great. He’s leading the charge!”
“Ye,” one of a string of albums West had his hand in this summer, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard chart in June, but faded commercially soon after. West announced this month that he would follow up the release with yet another album, “Yandhi,” which he said would be available Saturday night. As of early Sunday, the album had not yet materialized.
On “Saturday Night Live,” West performed three songs, instead of the standard two, including “I Love It,” his new single featuring Lil Pump, and “Ghost Town,” featuring Kid Cudi and 070 Shake, from “Ye.” He was also joined by singer and dancer Teyana Taylor for an unreleased number.
But after the third number, which aired during the show’s credits, West seemed determined to make a nonmusical moment. “They’re laughing at me,” he said. “You heard them? They screamed at me. They bully me. They bullied me backstage. They said don’t go out there with that hat on. They bullied me backstage. They bullied me.”
Representatives for West declined to comment.