Kanye West insists he's very serious about running for president in 2020. The 43-year-old rapper and clothing designer speaks with Forbes, and opens up about politics, his beliefs, and his past support of President Donald Trump.
“I am taking the red hat off, with this interview,” says West, who has publicly worn a red "Make America Great Again" hat and visited Trump for a public meeting at the White House.
“One of the main reasons I wore the red hat as a protest to the segregation of votes in the Black community. Also, other than the fact that I like Trump hotels and the saxophones in the lobby," he says of his past controversial fashion statement.
He also criticizes Trump's recent actions, seemingly in relation to the Black Lives Matter protests. There was a report in June that Trump had been brought down to an underground bunker in the White House during protests in Washington, D.C., which Trump has since denied. West says, "It looks like one big mess to me. I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker."
While he's not supporting Trump any longer, the Jesus Is King rapper adds, “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation."
He also says that if Trump weren't in the race, he'd be running as a Republican candidate. Since he is in the race, West will be running as a member of the "Birthday Party."
"Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday," he declares.
His running mate will be Michelle Tidball, a preacher from Wyoming, where West has a massive ranch, and his campaign slogan is "YES!"
West says his only advisers currently are his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and billionaire Elon Musk.
“We’ve been talking about this for years,” West claims. "I proposed to [Musk] to be the head of our space program.”
The GRAMMY winner adds, “I’m speaking with experts, I’m going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with [Joe] Biden.”
As for the predicted Democratic nominee, West does not have many kind words for former Vice President Biden.
“I’m not saying Trump’s in my way, he may be a part of my way. And Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know?" he says. "Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden’s not special."
He takes offense to the notion that all Black people must vote for the Democratic candidate.
“That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all Black people need to be Democrat and to assume that me running is me splitting the vote," he says. "I was told that if I voted on Trump my music career would be over. I was threatened into being in one party. I was threatened as a celebrity into being in one party. I was threatened as a Black man into the Democratic party. And that’s what the Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people."
West also says that he believes he contracted the coronavirus in February, though he tells Forbes that wasn't a factor in his decision to run.
“Chills, shaking in the bed, taking hot showers, looking at videos telling me what I'm supposed to do to get over it," he describes of the experience. "I remember someone had told me Drake had the coronavirus and my response was, 'Drake can’t be sicker than me!'"
As for a vaccine for the virus, West says, "When they say the way we’re going to fix COVID is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven."
As for some of his beliefs, he says, “I am pro-life because I’m following the word of the Bible... Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the devil’s work.”
He also says he wants to model his "design group" in the White House off of the country of Wakanda from Black Panther.
West says he decided to run for president while showering at Kris Jenner's home when he and Kim were living there in 2015.
"I was in the shower thinking -- I write raps in the shower -- it hit me to say, ‘you’re going to run for president’ and I started laughing hysterically. I was like, this is the best. I'm going to go out there and they’re going to think I'm going to do these songs and do this for entertainment, how rigged awards shows are, and then say I’m president,'" West recalls, referencing his announcement at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. "And I just laughed in the shower, I don’t know for how long, but that’s the moment it hit me.”
A source previously told ET that West is taking his presidential election announcement seriously.
"Kanye is telling people close to him that his announcement of running for president is serious," the source said. [He] has been toying with the idea for a while and has been getting more and more into politics."
According to Ballotpedia, West will be unable to appear on the ballot in Indiana, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas due to registration deadlines. Though there's still time for West to officially register in other states, they each have their own rules to get on the ballot.
At the moment, West has not filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, which is a necessary step to getting on the ballot. Even if West instead intended to run as a write-on candidate, some states require that paperwork be filed in advance in order for those votes to be counted.