After Kanye West’s on-stage meltdown last November and subsequent hospitalization, the rapper met briefly with Donald Trump at Trump Tower, fueling speculation that West might be asked to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration. While the thought did seem a little far-fetched due to Kanye’s reputation for unpredictable behavior, some thought the move could be seen by Trump and his team as a good one for securing the support of an artist most people would not readily identify as a Trump supporter and perhaps open some of Kanye’s fans to the idea that Donald Trump might make a good president. The idea never came to fruition, and now we know why.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Trump inauguration chairman Tom Barrack said Wednesday on CNN that Kanye West was passed over for a slot performing at the inauguration because he is not “traditionally American” enough for the festivities.
“We haven’t asked him,” Barrack said. “He’s been great. He considers himself a friend of the president-elect, but it’s not the venue. The venue we have for entertainment is filled out. It’s perfect. It’s going to be typically and traditionally American.”
Hip-hop is a music style created by Americans in America, so it’s not totally clear why Kanye West would be described as not conforming to the Trump team’s notion of what is or is not traditionally American. West is one of the hip-hop world’s most successful and critically-acclaimed performers, and Barrack did not further elaborate as to what exactly he meant during the CNN interview.
Toby Keith, a country music performer perhaps most famous for his patriotic anthem, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” was apparently deemed traditionally American enough to perform by the Trump inauguration team. According to AM New York, the rock band, 3 Doors Down, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and R&B singer Chrisette Michele will also be performing at the inauguration, as well as a variety of other acts.
If the Trump team were going for only traditionally American acts, it is unclear why they asked “Lord of the Dance,” Michael Flatley to perform. The Irish dancer and his troupe of traditional Irish folk dancers are certainly not what one could describe as traditionally American, especially not compared to a hip-hop artist, considering that hip-hop is an American art-form and Irish dance is not. Similarly, one could also question the inclusion of opera singer, Jackie Evancho, on the slate of performers. According to Theatre History, Opera is a 16th-century Italian art form derived from the stylings of ancient Greek tragedy. It would be hard to argue that opera is more traditionally American than hip-hop.
It’s possible that the decision not to ask Kanye West to perform at the inauguration has something to do with jitters over his reputation for speaking his mind. in 2005, Kanye famously spoke the line on national television, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” during the airing of A Concert For Hurricane Relief, a benefit for victims of Hurrican Katrina in New Orleans that hit four days prior to Kanye’s now-infamous statement on NBC.
It is unknown as of this writing is Kanye West will be attending the inauguration as a guest. West’s mother-in-law, Caitlyn Jenner, will be in attendance. Rumors were floating earlier today that Trump’s advisers were urging the future president to dance with Jenner at the inauguration, but according to People, a representative for Jenner has denied the rumors.
“This is a ridiculous story,” Jenner’s representative said. “There have been no discussions about who Caitlyn will or won’t dance with, or if she will dance at all. I can’t deal in hypotheticals and have no idea what any Trump aids hope happens. Of course, the real question is if they danced, who would lead?”
According to USA Today, Kanye West canceled his Saint Pablo tour after his on-stage meltdown in November, so it’s unknown whether or not the rapper would have even agreed to perform at Trump’s inauguration in the first place, and as of this writing, West or his representatives have not commented on the matter.
[Featured Image by Seth Wenig/AP Images]