The disgraced rapper and designer formerly known as Kanye West has said he plans to run for president in 2024, amid a series of antisemitic tirades and new far-right associations.
The declaration of his candidacy, which referenced several political figures and aides associated with US white supremacist and anti-democracy movements, would make him the second person to enter the race after Donald Trump.
A day earlier, the sportswear giant Adidas announced it was launching an investigation into allegations he harassed former employees. Rolling Stone magazine reported claims by Adidas employees working on the rapper’s Yeezy shoe line that he used “porn, bullying and mind games” to create a “toxic environment” at the company.
That revelation itself followed several fashion brands, including Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga, dropping the 45-year-old star over antisemitic comments he made online, including that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”.
That comment, after he wore a controversial “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during Paris fashion week, triggered mass condemnation of the rapper, and he was dropped by banker JPMorgan, his talent agent CAA, lawyers and record company. Ye later said he had lost “$2bn in one day”.
Twitter and Instagram temporarily locked their accounts. Ye went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight and made further inflammatory comments, this time about his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, and the pop star Lizzo. He told former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo that his antisemitic comment was “not hate speech; this is the truth”.
Ye’s faltering effort to distance himself from the remarks were further undermined when antisemitic demonstrators referenced Ye in signs raised over the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California, and in Jacksonville, Florida. One sign reportedly read: “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
“This weekend’s anti-Semitic protests in LA were disgusting and cannot be normalized or brushed aside. Words matter”, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said in a tweet.
The presidential run is Ye’s second. During his first, in 2020, he qualified for ballot access in just 12 states, unsuccessfully sued for access to five more, gave up on four and missed registration deadlines on a further 29.
He held one highly emotional rally in South Carolina in which he spoke of his anti-abortion views, funded two television ads and ultimately picked up just 70,000 votes across the entire US.
Ye’s announcement of a second run for the White House was made with a video of his campaign logo to social media captioned “Ye24”. In it, he claimed to have asked Donald Trump to be his running mate, a suggestion that had “most perturbed” the former president.
“The thing that Trump was most disturbed about [is] me asking him to be my vice-president,” Kanye said in a video posted on his recently unlocked Twitter account. “I think that was, like, lower on the list of things that caught him off-guard.”
“It was the fact that I walked in with intelligence,” Ye added.
In the “Ye24” Twitter post, the rapper said he’d he advised Trump to “go and get these people that the media tried to cancel”, with flashes of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Roger Stone and InfoWars conspiracist Alex Jones.
Several days ago, Ye was seen in the company of white nationalist Nick Fuentes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club and home. In the subsequent video, titled “Mar-A-Lago Debrief”, Ye said Trump “started basically screaming at me at the table, telling me I’m going to lose. Has that ever worked for anyone in history? I’m like, ‘Wait, hold on Trump, you’re talking to Ye.’”
Fuentes is well known for virulent antisemitic opinions of his own, and started a white nationalist organization called America First Foundation. The Department of Justice has called him a white supremacist and he has been banned from multiple social media platforms.
In the video Ye sand Fuentes’s praises and called him a “loyalist”.
Ye also recently told the far-right British commentator Milo Yiannopoulos that he was “working on the campaign”, which Yiannopoulos said he took that to be a campaign announcement. On Thursday, Ye indicated that he had enlisted Yiannopoulos as his 2024 campaign manager.
Yiannopoulos has a long history of anti-Semitism, too, including donating $14.88 to a Jewish journalist, a figure that references the so-called “14 Words” white supremacist manifesto and 88, used by neo-Nazis as shorthand for “Heil Hitler” because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.