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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Alexandra Del Rosario

Kanye West tells Tucker Carlson that his Trump support 'threatened' his life and career

Kanye West, who has been embroiled in controversy this week after wearing a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt at Paris Fashion Week, apparently isn't backing down anytime soon.

On Thursday, the rapper — whose legal name is Ye — found a kindred spirit on the conservative Fox News network. He appeared on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" for a sit-down conversation filmed in West's office in Los Angeles; the interview's second part will air Friday.

West and Carlson touched on everything from the consequences of West supporting former President Donald Trump to abortion ("I'm pro-life") to his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian. West even managed to mention musician Lizzo and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk.

Sporting a beard, a black hoodie, a cap emblazoned with "2023" and a lanyard with an ultrasound of a fetus, West told Carlson that he found the divisive "White Lives Matter" shirt entertaining.

"I thought the shirt was a funny shirt," he said. "I thought that the idea of me wearing it was funny."

He said he discussed the controversial apparel with his dad, who he said was a former member of the Black Panther Party. West said his father noted that it was just a "Black man stating the obvious." He then reiterated that "the answer to why I wrote 'White Lives Matter' on a shirt is because they do. It's the obvious thing," echoing a sentiment he posted Wednesday on Instagram.

His Paris Fashion Week outfit wasn't the first time West has taken heat for his clothing. During the 2016 election, the rapper was regularly seen wearing the red "Make America Great Again" hat associated with Trump. Early in Thursday's interview, West told Carlson that the accessory made him a target.

"My so-called friends-slash-handlers around me told me if I said that I liked Trump that my career would be over, that my life would be over," he said. "They said stuff like, 'People get killed for wearing a hat like that.' They threatened my life. They basically said that I would be killed for wearing the hat."

In the hours leading up to his interview with Carlson, West posted an Instagram video of the anchor visiting the new Yeezy office to try out unidentified beverages and to test the fashion entrepreneur's new 3D-printed shoes.

West's chat with Carlson comes amid no shortage of controversy. On Monday, West turned heads when he wore a "White Lives Matter" shirt, matching with conservative commentator Candace Owens in Paris. He weathered backlash not only from critics on Twitter, but also fashion-world figures including Gigi Hadid, Jaden Smith and Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.

On social media, Hadid called West a "bully" for saying in an Instagram post that Karefa-Johnson "is not a fashion person" and for mocking the boots the editor wore to Paris Fashion Week.

Vogue then released a statement on Wednesday in support of Karefa-Johnson.

"She was personally targeted and bullied," the magazine's statement said. "It is unacceptable. Now more than ever voices like hers are needed and in a private meeting with Ye today she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms."

Talking with Carlson, West said the backlash "was a setup." But then he turned his feud with Karefa-Johnson into commentary on his "good friend" Lizzo and her body.

"When Lizzo loses 10 pounds and announces it, the bots … attack her for losing weight because the media wants to put out a perception that being overweight is the new goal, when it's actually unhealthy," West said. "If someone thinks it's attractive, to each his own. It's actually clinically unhealthy. And for people to promote that, it's demonic."

When Carlson asked the rap mogul to explain his stance on body diversity, West claimed that "it's genocide of the Black race. They want to kill us in any way they can."

Elsewhere in the interview, West spoke about Kardashian and her ties to the Clinton family. He claimed that "he didn't know how close my own wife was to the Clintons," presumably referring to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Carlson then asked whether the rapper felt pressure from his wife and her political connections.

"Yes, there was manipulation," he said. "Me not saying I like Trump was a form of manipulation."

The first segment of the two-part interview ended with West weighing in on his "potential" run for president in 2024 (he also ran in 2020), Musk ("he's a great team player"), his contentious relationship with the Kushners and how he was "bullied by Hollywood" to "bite his tongue" about his support for Trump.

But West also suggested that his relationship with Trump could be complicated at times.

"For older white people, they're quick to classify a Black person only by the fact that we're Black. Even Trump, a person that we'd consider a friend of mine, when I went to the White House, I called him after that to get ASAP Rocky out of jail. And one of the things he said to me is, 'Kanye, you're my friend. When you came to the White House, my Black approval rating went up 40%.'

"And for politicians, all Black people are worth is an approval rating," he added. "The Democrats feel that they don't owe us anything. And Republicans feel that they don't owe us anything. Blacks have never demanded something for our vote."


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