Kanye West is opening up about everything from alcoholism to voting in a lengthy new interview with GQ. In the magazine’s May cover story, West is finally addressing that infamous MAGA hat, his baffling support for Trump, and those George W. Bush comments (you know the ones, right?). According to West, who has been quite controversial in recent years when it comes to voicing his political beliefs, nothing has really changed — he remains steadfast in his positions and he is okay with all that comes with it.
"I didn't intend for anything except to speak my mind and express how I felt. I have no intention other than to be free, and I don't intend to be free — I just simply am," West told GQ.
West credits his parents with instilling in him the belief that he can and should speak up for what he believes in, citing their role as activists during the Civil Rights Movement. “Both my parents were freedom fighters, and they used to drink from fountains they were told they couldn’t drink from, and they used to sit in restaurants where they were told they couldn’t eat from,” explained West. “They didn’t fight for me to be told by white people which white person I can vote on.”
And with that, he’s clear on where he stands in the upcoming election and refuses to be cancelled for his support of President Trump — something he was vocal about during his stint hosting Saturday Night Live in September 2018, when his pro-Trump rant had to be cut for time. “I’m definitely voting this time,” he said. “And we know who I’m voting on… I am the founder of a $4 billion organization, one of the most Google-searched brands on the planet, and I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color.”
West's history of political speech is certainly a storied one. In 2005, at a Hurricane Katrina relief concert, West took the stage and in an off-book announcement, said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people" before the camera was able to cut away. Years later, George W. Bush said that West's comment was an "all-time low" of his presidency. It came as a surprise to many that, over decade after the monumental moment West brought racism into the frontlines of American politics, he moved to support President Trump, who many have referred to the most offensive and "corrupt" president in modern history.
In 2018, after West posted pro-Trump tweets, many celebrities unfollowed him on Twitter, including Drake, Rihanna, and John Legend. That same year, the rapper took a meeting with Trump where he donned a MAGA hat and was pictured smiling and hugging the president. West says he was told that if he continued supporting Trump, it would end his career. In the interview, the rapper and performance artist also says he was also told his career would be over if he “wasn’t with her,” citing a popular slogan from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — which he likens to “if Obama’s campaign was ‘I’m with Black.’” He points out that his career has not ended as a result of his political views, saying, “I’m still here! Jesus Is King was No. 1!”
That being said, he claims he wasn’t trying to make a point when he wore that “Make America Great Again” hat (something he’s done more than once), “except to speak my mind and express how I felt,” he said.
Now, when it comes to his position on George Bush, West says things have changed: he now sees that comment as a "victim" statement. "This white person didn’t do something for us. That is stemmed in victim mentality,” he says of his previous position. “Every day I have to look in the mirror like I’m Robert De Niro and tell myself, ‘You are not a slave.’ As outspoken as I am, and the position that I am in, I need to tell myself.”