What: An awkward, revealing moment on late-night TV.
Who: Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye West.
Why we care: The ever-loquacious Kanye West is seldom at a loss for words. His Twitter account often reads like the transcript of a hypercaffeinated beat poet relating several unrelated anecdotes simultaneously, and in interviews he gives off the air of someone impatient for a turn to speak. However, when the unparalleled producer/rapper went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday night to discuss his controversy-stirring behavior in 2018, there was one moment when he came up speechless.
The interview was already off to an uncomfortable start, with Kanye offering long, stilted explanations for so enthusiastically boarding the Trump Train earlier this year to an uncharacteristically silent talk-show audience.
“Just as a musician, African-American, guy out in Hollywood, all these different things–everyone around me tried to pick my candidate for me,” he says early on in the clip, after Kimmel asks whether he thinks Trump is actually doing a good job. “And then told me every time I said I like Trump, people told me I couldn’t say it out loud or my career would be over. I’d get kicked out of the black community because blacks–we’re supposed to have a monolithic thought, we can only like, we can only be Democrats, so even when I said it right before I went to the hospital, and I expressed myself and when I came out, I lost my confidence. I didn’t have the confidence to take on the world and it took me a year and a half to have the confidence to stand up and put on the hat, no matter what the consequences. And what it represented for me, it didn’t represent his policies and stuff. It represented overcoming fear and doing what you felt no matter what anyone said, and saying, ‘You can’t bully me.’ Liberals can’t bully me, news can’t bully me, the hip-hop community, they can’t bully me. Because at that point, if I’m afraid to be me, I’m no longer Ye. That’s what makes Ye. And actually I quite enjoy when people are mad at me in certain situations.”
So odd that it happened to take Kanye exactly the length of time between leaving the hospital and embarking on a promotional blitz for his new album to work up the courage to go full MAGA. Coincidences! In any case, Kimmel smartly put on a receptive face and bided his time until just the right moment to cut through Kanye’s dodges about Trump’s actual policies.
“Just in literal terms, there are families being torn apart at the border of the country–there are literally families being torn apart as a result of what this president is doing,” Kimmel says. “And I think we cannot forget that whether we like his personality or not, his actions are really what matter. 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, or any people at all?”
In response, Kanye puts on a thoughtful face, but seems to have no answer. After four seconds of silence, Kimmel throws to commercial, promising to return to the topic later. They never do.
Watch the speechless moment, which comes at around 10:45 in the video below.