'SNL': Kanye West Gave Pro-Trump Speech That Didn't Make It to Air
The rapper, sporting a Make America Great Again hat, called for more open political dialogue and hinted at a 2020 run.
During the 44th season premiere of NBC's Saturday Night Live on Saturday, musical guest Kanye West gave a pro-Trump speech while wearing a Make America Great Again hat in a speech made after the TV broadcast ended.
“There’s so many times I talked to a white person about this and they’re like, ‘How can you like Trump, he’s racist?’ Well, if I was concerned about racism I would have moved out of America a long time ago,” West said to the crowd at Studio 8H in New York, eliciting several claps and a number of boos.
"You’ve got a situation where you need to have a dialogue and not a diatribe...It’s easy to make it seem like it's so, so, so one-sided," West said in his speech.
West also briefly alluded to plans of running for political office in 2020.
His speech was filmed and posted to Instagram by comedian Chris Rock, who was in the crowd at the taping.
The rapper delivered the comments after a final performance following the cast's sign-off. He was given extra time to perform a third song and when the broadcast ended, West invited the cast back onstage. When he began speaking, the moment made the cast uncomfortable, says a show insider — something that could be seen in the videos posted on social media. The insider said the cast returned to the stage assuming they would be dancing for his performance and what transpired was "unfair."
During his speech from the SNL stage, West said he was "bullied" backstage before coming out in his MAGA hat. "You see they're laughing at me, they screamed at me," West said onstage. "They said, 'Don't go out there with that hat on.' They bullied me backstage. They bullied me! And then they say I'm in a sunken place. You want to see the sunken place? Okay, I'm going to listen to y'all now, or I'm going to put my Superman cape on," he said, replacing his MAGA cap. "This means you can't tell me what to do."
West went on to say: "Follow your heart and stop following your mind. That's how we're controlled. That's how we're programmed. If you want the world to move forward, try love."
The insider refuted West's "bullied" claim. West also wore the MAGA hat in promos leading up to the premiere with host Adam Driver and castmember Kenan Thompson, and in show photos leading up to his performance that aired during the broadcast.
SNL goes off the air at 1 a.m. and West began his speech several minutes after 1 a.m., said the insider about why the moment didn't make it to air.
KANYE SNL TALK THAT GOT CUT OFF FREEDOM OF SPEECH SHOULD HAVE EXTENDED pic.twitter.com/IpULoEJxsN— MIKE DEAN! #MWA (@therealmikedean) September 30, 2018
On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump responded to West's performance on Twitter: "Like many, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it) - no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. 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!"
Trump has not been shy about criticizing SNL in the past. The president has been strongly critical of Alec Baldwin's impersonation of him on the program, saying, "Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch."
The rapper had previously voiced support for Trump, tweeting a picture of a MAGA hat he owned signed by the president and declaring they both had similar "dragon energy."
"Just as a musician, African-American, everyone around me tried to pick my candidate for me and then told me that I couldn't say that I like Trump," West told late-night host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year. West also took issue with the notion that "blacks can only be Democrats," an adage that fellow Chicago musician Chance the Rapper echoed on Twitter in April.
Trump, at the time, responded to West's support by thanking the rapper via Twitter.
Jackie Strause contributed to this story.
Oct. 1., 9: 30 a.m. This story has been updated with additional details of West's performance.