Kanye West has had a long and varied relationship with Saturday Night Live. The rapper, designer and politician has dominated the musical guest spots over the years, delivering the kind of performance that changes culture entirely. But one moment ranks as easily his most controversial on the show.
For the show’s 44th series premiere West arrived on the show sporting a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and gave a pro-Trump speech. “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.”
“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. The moment came at the end of Kanye’s three-song set after the show had started to go off the air, so much of his speech was cut off.
The speech raised claims from the cast of the show that they had been duped into going on stage with West when he made the speech. He 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.”
It was met with a splattering of cheers, a heavy number of boos and an overwhelming amount of confusion. Later, West would mount his own challenge against Trump during a brief and ill-fated attempt to become President in 2020.