Did Kanye and Trump Trade Jewish Gossip — or Just Say ‘L’Chaim’?
Rapper Kanye West paid a visit to Trump Tower on Tuesday to visit with the man he told an audience recently he would have voted for had he voted on Election Day. Two days after that concert, on November 21, the hip-hop superstar cancelled his remaining concerts and was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital, where he reportedly spent 10 days under psychiatric observation for paranoid and delusional fantasies, or, in the parlance of Hollywood flackdom – for “nervous exhaustion.”
No sooner was West released than, a few days later, he appeared in public with dyed blond hair. And then, today, he risked being re-institutionalized by going to visit Donald Trump.
It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that West would favor Trump. The two, after all, are both ardent users of Twitter and stars of reality TV — West by marriage into the No. 1 family of the genre, the Kardashians. (Kim Kardashian is West’s wife and the mother of his children.)
Also, West shares with Trump a dislike for the current occupant of the Oval Office. President Obama called West a “jackass” after the critically acclaimed and commercially successful rapper stormed the stage to interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for her Best Female Video win at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. (West thought the award should have gone to Beyoncé.) West, to his credit, replied, “I’m sure I’d beat him in basketball.”
In the heat of this year’s presidential campaign, West declared his own run for the White House in 2020. Trump, nevertheless, took the meeting today with his potential opponent for a second term. Maybe it was a strategic move to co-opt Kanye into not running for office. Or perhaps Trump was hoping to sign West for an appearance at his inauguration party. Trump allegedly hasn’t had much success in getting any A-list musicians to agree to perform for him.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka was reportedly in on the meeting, and one wonders if they sat around talking about the plethora of samples of Jewish artists and songwriters that have appeared on West’s albums. The list includes Steely Dan; Laura Nyro; Bette Midler; hard-rock group Mountain (led by Leslie West, born Leslie Weinstein); the Turtles (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman aka Flo & Eddie); Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (led by Manfred Mann, born Manfred Sepse Lubowitz); Burt Bacharach and Hal David; Michael Bolton; Cynthia Weil; Carole King and Gerry Goffin; Rodgers and Hart; and Lerner & Loewe.
Maybe they also talked about how West has called on Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and Israeli-American violinist Miri Ben-Ari to join him in the recording studio, where famed Jewish-American record producer Rick Rubin can often be found, working with recording engineer Noah Goldstein. Among the many Kanye albums those two have worked on is an upcoming duo album featuring West and Canadian-Jewish rapper Drake.
Or maybe they compared notes on their respective trips to Israel. In April 2015, West and Kardashian went to Jerusalem to have their daughter, North, baptized at the Cathedral of St. James, located in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. West returned to the Holy Land in October of that year to perform at Ramat Gan Stadium before 20,000 fans, after which he was rumored to be shopping for Tel Aviv real estate with Kardashian.
Or maybe, as Donald Trump told the press at the end of their meeting, they just all spoke about “life.” As in “L’chaim”?
Seth Rogovoy is a contributing editor at the Forward.