No one could ever accuse Kanye West of thinking small.
Just when we thought 2020 had reached peak levels of bizarre, last weekend, the US rapper boldly declared his candidacy for US president.
The abrupt Twitter announcement from the billionaire hip hop star, who first set eyes rolling in 2015 when he claimed he would be running for president, prompted a reaction that went from confusion, to panic, to countless reports dissecting whether a presidency bid from the star was even possible this late in the game, and what the world under president Kanye might look like.
But while many may be nervous that Kanye could actually win the seat in the Oval Office (it is in the West Wing, after all) there’s one blinding sign suggesting his campaign won’t even go ahead: Kanye has a long history of making passionate, radical project announcements that fizzle when he inevitably loses interest.
This week, a rambling Forbes interview – gathered over several lengthy phone calls with journalist Randall Lane – gave a vague run down of the rapper’s heavily religious political platform, in which he made troubling his anti-abortion, anti-vax stance known.
He also confirmed his party will be called Birthday Party (“because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday”), with the campaign slogan: “YES!”
“In our deodorant, in our toothpaste, there are chemicals that affect our ability to be of service to God,” he said among the interview’s several puzzling statements while vowing to “clean up the chemicals”.
Some of his claims, including a vicious rant directed at US sexual health centre Planned Parenthood, have rightly sparked outrage, but while he may have been backed early by Tesla boss Elon Musk, and already has his sights set on a vice president (Michelle Tidball, a Wyoming preacher and “biblical life coach”), all signs point to Kanye’s promise being yet another broken one.
With just four months to go before polling day on November 3, not only has Kanye already missed several important filing deadlines, he has a history of publicising grand gestures that never seem to go anywhere.
“I’ve been connected to the most culturally important albums of the past four years, the most influential artists of the past 10 years,” West told The New York Times in 2013. “You have, like, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, Nicolas Ghesquière, Anna Wintour, David Stern. I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: ‘This is the level that things could be at.’”
From TV shows, to video games, to wild new technology, here’s a timeline of would-be projects Kanye pitched passionately to the world:
THE PASTELLE CLOTHING LINE – 2007
Before Kanye reached billionaire status with his sneaker empire Yeezy, Pastelle was how he planned to break into the fashion industry.
In 2007, Kanye recruited Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton for the streetwear line, which was described by one anonymous associate as “a cross between that real golden era of Polo, a simpler A Bathing Ape, and a little bit of A.P.C.”.
In a 2018 Complex article on the label that never came to fruition, a source said: “I think he wanted to do something that was a little more high end,” calling Pastelle Kanye’s ”university for fashion”.
WORLD TOUR WITH LADY GAGA – 2009
Less than a week after tickets went on sale, Kanye West and Lady Gaga abruptly called off their 34-show Fame Kills tour on October 1st, 2009, without citing a reason.
The tour was scheduled to run from November 2009 to January 2010, but was cancelled after controversy regarding West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s Best Female Video speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
“We mutually decided to cancel the tour,” Gaga said in a statement.
“He’s going to take a break, but I’m not,” she added.
At the time, reps for tour promoter Live Nation wouldn’t comment, nor would agents and publicists for both artists.
Gaga’s choreographer, Laurieann Gibson, later said the tour was terminated due to “creative differences” between the singers.
DONDA DESIGN AGENCY – 2012
Named after West’s late mother, Donda West, the presidential hopeful announced the wide-ranging company on January 5, 2012, via a series of tweets proclaiming that the company would “pick up where Steve Jobs left off”.
In a lengthy, typo-filled creed, he went on to outline what the organisation would set out to achieve, pitching DONDA as “a design company which will galvanise amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there (sic) dreams and ideas.
“DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford. I want to put creatives in a room together with like minds that are all waaaay doper than me.
“We want to help simplify and aesthetically improve everything we see hear, touch, taste and feel. We can collectively effect (sic) the world trough (sic) design. We need to pick up where Steve Jobs left off.”
In 2016, he shared a chart containing the products he intended to create via the design studio.
They include “emoticons,” ”luxury cloud service,” ”compressed natural gas,” medical research for HIV and cancer, and, “survaliance (sic) technology”.
He also mentioned “at-home hovercrafts” under the “Home” section and again under “Trademarks & Patents”.
HIS HBO SITCOM – 2013
Kanye’s Curb Your Enthusiasm-style pilot for HBO first emerged in 2013, around the time his album Yeezus dropped.
Opinions on the series were divided, with those who have seen the full episode calling it everything from “incredible,” to “terrible,” and “not as bad as you hoped”.
You can watch a snippet of it here:
The show, which was screened in 2013 by Wyatt Cenac, an actor and comedian who worked with the musician on the show, was envisioned as a combination of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Sex and the City, and Charlie Rose.
HBO passed on the project, and it was never spoken of by Kanye again.
ONLY ONE THE VIDEO GAME – 2016
In Only One the game, players were to take on the role of Donda West ascending to the gates of heaven. The game was in production for over a year, with a trailer debuting in 2016 at the E3 video game trade event in Los Angeles.
YEEZY HOME – 2018
An architecture arm of Kanye’s Yeezy label, Yeezy Home, was launched in 2018, and while it hasn’t seen any completed projects yet – the star this week shared an image of what will be its first creation, “Yeezy Shelters”.
In a 2019 interview with Forbes, the star revealed his intentions to create low-income prefabricated housing for homeless people through the company.
He said he planned for the Yeezy Home units to take inspiration from the Star Wars film, specifically Luke Skywalker’s underground childhood home.
THE LIFE OF PABLO PORN – 2018
On a 2018 episode of his podcast, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis revealed that Kanye had asked him to write pornographic video content for tracks from album The Life of Pablo.
Although the project never saw the light of day, Ellis – whom West had enlisted four years earlier to write a screenplay for a Yeezus-inspired movie – said it was still a valuable experience.
“Kanye is, yes, a genius, and every hour I spent with him was more than worth it, even if the project never happened,” Ellis said.
FLYING CAR FACTORY – 2018
2018 was a big year for Kanye.
While there’s no indication this idea ever moved beyond a public brainstorm, in 2018, after Kanye visited the offices of The FADER, he made known his ambitions to put together a flying car factory in Chicago with the help of Tesla alumni.
A few days later, he tweeted “where’s the flying car department? Dan Gilbert,” referencing the US billionaire businessman, investor, and philanthropist who is also the co-founder of Quicken Loans.
KANYE BIOPIC – 2019
In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in July 2019, Eastbound & Down actor Danny McBride revealed Kanye approached him with a proposition.
“He had an idea for a project that I think was a pretty brilliant idea,” McBride said.
“He wanted to do a movie about the story of his life and he wanted me to play him. I thought it was a cool enough idea that I was like, ‘Yeah, I would’.”
“Maybe someday we’ll make the film. Who knows?” he reminisced.
He later told The Guardian: “That was a pretty stunning phone call to get. I don’t know why he wanted me to do it. Maybe that sense of ego I’m able to portray? I have no clue.”
It’s been five years since Kanye’s first comments about running for president of the United States.
Onstage at the 2015 MTV VMAs, where he was accepting the Video Vanguard Award, West spoke for more than 12 minutes in a lecture that concluded with the rapper telling the audience, “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
Three years later, West sat down with DJ Pharris of Chicago radio station Power 92, were he commented on the statement, “Yes, 100 per cent it could happen … 2024,” he claimed.
In the same interview, he also revealed the now-confirmed name for his own independent political party: The Birthday Party.
Since then, he’s publicly supported President Trump, donning a MAGA cap on several occasions.
But, in his Forbes interview this week, Kanye notably said he’s now gone off Trump – revealing he’s lost confidence in the commander in chief.
RELATED: Inside Kanye’s friendship with Trump
Fast-forward five years from his first presidency announcement, he’s insisted he’s definitely running this year.
One thing’s for certain – Kanye West is laudable in ambition.