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As Saturday Night Live’s Broadcast Ended, Kanye West Donned His MAGA Hat and Treated the Audience to an Impromptu Speech About Donald Trump

A Saturday Night Live interstitial photo of Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat.
Kanye West and his MAGA hat. NBC

Kanye West is up to his old tricks again. The rapper, who was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this week, made it through the show’s standard two performances without any major live broadcast fiascos. West and Lil Pump’s performance of “I Love It,” which featured both men awkwardly dancing around in giant water bottle costumes, was actually pretty charming: West is clearly having a blast being silly and ridiculous, and only the Make America Great Again he’s wearing in the interstitial photo casts a pall on things:

But things got weird during the show’s closing credits, as Kanye took the stage again, accompanied by Kid Cudi, 070 Shake, Ty Dolla $ign, and a bright red MAGA hat, to perform “Ghost Town.” NBC rolled the credits mid-performance and hasn’t released the video:

But Kanye didn’t stop just because the TV cameras had been turned off. Chris Rock, who was in the audience, posted some of the craziness that followed as an Instagram story. Kanye invited the cast on stage at the end—you can see it on the broadcast—but then gave a rambling speech about Donald Trump, as the SNL cast members behind him stared intently at the floor and worked on their Mike Myers impersonations. There’s no full video, but a lot of what Kanye had to say can be reconstructed from Rock’s posts and a tweet from record producer Mike Dean, who played guitar during the performance, showing what looks like a green room feed:

Host Adam Driver seems to have avoided the stage during Kanye’s big number, but the rest of the cast was not as lucky. It’s fascinating, in a trainwreck sort of way, to watch the cast members try to decide what to do as Kanye talks. Rachel Dratch rolls her eyes; Pete Davidson and Beck Bennett have a skeptical conversation with each other before leading a mini-exodus from the stage, followed by Dratch and Melissa Villaseñor. Meanwhile, Colin Jost camouflaged his own exit by awkwardly dancing his way off. The situation was grimmer stage right, where Heidi Gardner, Kate McKinnon, Mikey Day, and Alex Moffatt seemed to be thinking very hard about whether or not they should nod at anything Kanye is saying; they could not have been more visibly happy when he brings the band back, and their intense claps and head-bobbing when the scene got safely apolitical are something to behold. Chris Redd, on the other hand, cut the Gordian knot by never going on stage at all, and made his feelings clear on Twitter:

Redd is apparently the man who, in West’s telling, “bullied” him over wearing his MAGA hat, a charge the comedian disputed:

Here’s as much of what Kanye had to say as we could reconstruct from the existing video:

I wanna cry right now. Black man in America, supposed to keep what you feel inside right now. And the liberals …

… Blacks weren’t always Democrats. You know it’s like what Clinton did, to take the fathers out of the home and promote welfare? Does anybody know about that? That’s a Democratic plan.

And so many times I talk to, like, a white person about this, and they say, “How could you like Trump, he’s racist?” Well, uh, if I was concerned about racism I would have moved out of America a long time ago. We don’t just make our dec- …

… builder. And that inspires me. And when I said I’d run in 2020, all of my smartest friends …


Now you’ve got a situation where we need to have a dialogue, and not a diatribe. Because if you want something to change, it’s not gonna …

Try love, try love, try love. You see, they’re laughing at me. You heard ’em? They scream at me. They bully me. They bullied me backstage, 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 wanna see the sunken place? Ok, I’m gonna listen to y’all now. Or I’m gonna put my superman cape on. And this means you can’t tell me what to do. 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. Thank y’all for giving me this platform. I know some of y’all don’t agree. But y’all be going at that man’s neck a lot, and I don’t think it’s actually that helpful. I think the universe has balance. 90% of news are liberal. 90% of TV, L.A., New York, writers, rappers, musicians So it’s easy to make it seem like it’s so, so, so one-sided. And I –… I feel kinda free.

Kanye elaborated his thoughts on the subject of freedom via Twitter, tweeting a photo of himself wearing his MAGA hat on a private plane, explaining that it represented a strong economic platform that would make America whole again, at least in part by abolishing the 13th amendment.

It seems like abolishing the 13th amendment might have some unforeseen consequences, freedom-wise, given that it is the amendment that ended slavery, but West seems to have conflated the prison-labor part of the amendment with the main thrust of it, which he later clarified:

In short, the whole thing is a gigantic, and still-ongoing, shitshow. In fact, it was exactly the sort of shitshow Saturday Night Live was banking on, judging from the promo they shot with West in which a gleeful Kenan Thompson says that Kanye is “definitely gonna do something.”:

Well, as promised, Kanye did something, so NBC got their money’s worth. Poopity-scoop.