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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Explained: Kanye West, his career, politics and now presidential bid

While rapper Kanye West has said he will run for President of the United States, he has not confirmed if he has submitted the official paperwork required to appear on state election ballots.

Written by Rahel Philipose , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 8, 2020 10:34:32 am
Kanye west president, Kanye west net worth, Kanye west wife, who is Kanye west, donald trump, US presidential elections, indian express, express explained This is not the first time Kanye West has declared his intention to run for the Oval Office. (AP Photo)

Hip hop artiste and producer Kanye West took to Twitter on Saturday to announce he would be running for President of the United States, in the elections slated to take place in November.

The 43-year-old rapper chose July 4 — widely celebrated across the United States as its Independence Day — to make his announcement. “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020 vision,” West tweeted Saturday evening.

This is not the first time West has declared his intention to run for the Oval Office. It was in 2015, while accepting an award at the MTV Video Music Awards, when he first announced he would run for President in 2020.

The rapper, a vocal supporter of the current President, Donald Trump, has courted controversy over the years for his eccentric behaviour and political beliefs. Several critics and social media users have claimed that his supposed presidential bid is merely a publicity stunt to promote his new album, ‘God’s Country’.

Who is Kanye West?

Kanye Omari West, 21-time Grammy award-winning rapper and music producer, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 8, 1977. He began his career in the early 2000s as a producer for the record label Roc-A-Fella Records, before releasing his first solo rap album ‘The College Dropout’ in 2004.

West married reality TV star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian in 2014. (Reuters Photo)

Since then, West’s impressive discography has grown to include more than 10 albums and over 100 songs. In 2019, West was named the highest-paid hip-hop act in the world with over $150 million in income, according to Forbes.

West has also had a successful career as a fashion designer that began in 2007, when he collaborated with the streetwear brand A Bathing Ape to design a sneaker that featured his mascot — the ‘Dropout Bear’. Over the years, he has worked with a number of brands, including Nike and Louis Vuitton.

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In 2015, West made waves in the fashion industry after he launched his apparel line ‘Yeezy’ in collaboration with German activewear brand Adidas.

West married reality TV star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian in 2014. The couple has four children — North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm.

In 2018, West revealed that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and described his condition as a “superpower” in his song ‘Yikes’. The rapper spoke about the importance of understanding mental health issues, and said his own bipolar symptoms include feeling “hyper-paranoid” about his surroundings.

However, later that year, during a visit to the White House, West claimed he had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, and was actually just “sleep-deprived”.

While meeting with President Trump at the White House to discuss prison reforms in October 2018, West donned a Make America great Again hat and delivered a 10-minute rambling monologue. (Reuters Photo)

Kanye’s political journey

In the past, the rapper has repeatedly publicly voiced his support for President Trump. On the TV show Saturday Night Live in 2018, West famously grabbed the mic to criticise Democrats and praise Trump. “If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all their policies,” he said.

West has garnered considerable criticism for his comments — such as when he claimed that slavery was a choice, and when he called for the abolition of Article 13 of the US constitution, which banned slavery.

He is also known to support far-right commentators on Twitter like Candace Owens, who has referred to Black Lives Matter protestors as “whiny toddlers pretending to be oppressed”.

However, Kanye’s political identity is complex and ever-changing — in 2005, West claimed that then-Republican President George Bush did not care about black people. Years later, he backtracked, saying his comment was coming from a “victimised mentality”.

West and Kardashian have been known to be advocates of prison reform. Last year, on Kardashian’s birthday, West donated $1million to prison reform charities in her name. While meeting with President Trump at the White House to discuss prison reforms in October 2018, West donned a Make America great Again hat and delivered a 10-minute rambling monologue.

“People expect that if you’re black you have to be Democrat. I have a – I’ve had conversations that basically said that welfare is the reason why a lot of black people end up being Democrat,” West said at the meeting. “They say – you know, first of all, it’s a limited amount of jobs. So the fathers lose the jobs, and they say, “We’ll give you more money for having more kids in your home.” And then, we got rid of the mental health institutes in the ’80s and the ’90s, and the prison rates just shot up.”

At an event in November last year, West declared he would run for President in 2024. “When I run for President in 2024, we would’ve created so many jobs that I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk,” he said.

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What are Kanye West’s chances?

With merely four months to go for polling day on November 3, West has not confirmed whether he has submitted the official paperwork required to appear on state election ballots. He is also yet to clarify whether he will be running as an Independent candidate or if he has any party affiliations.

According to a BBC report, his name does not appear in the Federal Election Commission (FEC) database for the upcoming Presidential election in November. The closest name is a candidate called ‘Kanye Deez Nutz West’, who registered with the FEC in 2015, using the address ‘1977 Golddigger Avenue, Suite Yeezus’, BBC reported.

To appear on the state ballot as an independent candidate, Kanye will be required to collect a certain amount of signatures and register in states before a deadline. While this deadline has passed in most states, there are a few where Kanye can still register, Reuters reported.

Soon after West announced he was running for President, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to his tweet, saying: “You have my full support!”

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