When it comes to the topic of racism, Kanye West has a varied past. Early in his career, the “Life of Pablo” rapper never shied away from the topic, rapping about it on songs and delivering his now-famous, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” line on live TV.
In recent years, Kanye’s views on the issue have changed, which has included him saying “racism is a dated concept” and revealing he would have voted for President-elect Donald Trump if he voted in the U.S. election. Check out these seven times Kanye has spoken about racism:
1. “Never Let Me Down”
One of the standout tracks from Kanye’s discography features one of his most quoted lyrics. On “Never Let Me Down” from 2004’s “The College Dropout,” Kanye famously rapped, “Racism’s still alive, they just be concealin’ it.”
2. “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
Four days after Hurricane Katrina had hit the city of New Orleans, Kanye appeared on the NBC telethon “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” to help raise money for the devastated city. Kanye’s appearance on Sept. 2, 2005 came just a week after his second album, “Late Registration,” was released and sold 860,000 copies in its first week.
The rapper was becoming a popular figure, and while standing next to actor Mike Myers, West looked straight into the camera and said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” While the statement was controversial at the time, it showed just who Kanye West was: someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
3. “New Slaves”
On 2013’s “Yeezus,” Kanye put out two his most politically charged songs, “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead.” It’s the latter that features some of Kanye’s most memorable lyrics about racism.
4. “There Aren’t No Black Guys Or Celebrities Making No Louis Vuitton Nothing”
During a 2014 performance at London’s Wireless Festival, Kanye went on one of his famous rants, this time, against the fashion industry. According to the rapper, he was discriminated against in meetings with fashion companies. Kanye said while rappers such as him and Pharrell have collaborated with companies before, they didn’t want them doing too much.
“They let Pharrell make those glasses, and we liked them, right? They let me make those shoes, and we liked them right? And they say... Not no more. That’s too much. That’s too much... That’s way too much. That’s way too much. Stay in your place. Sit in the front of that show and wear this jacket I made you. Stay in your place. Do what you get paid to do. Stay in your place. Don’t embarrass yourself trying to chase your dreams. Save face. Save face,” he said.
5. The Human Race
While accepting the Visionary Award at the 2015 BET Honors, West delivered a speech which dealt with humans focusing on different races as opposed to the human race. “The ‘micro’ of it is we focus on the different races as opposed to the ‘macro,’ which is the human race,” he said.
6. “Racism Is A Dated Concept”
Kanye’s most controversial statement came a few months after his BET speech when he called racism a “dated concept.” While speaking with Clique TV, the rapper said racism was a “silly concept” that is used to “separate, to alienate, to pinpoint anything.” West revealed he doesn’t like to use the word “racism” because it’s not “an actual thing that even means anything.”
7. “I Would’ve Voted For Trump”
The “Ultralight Beam” rapper may have delivered his most controversial statement during a concert on Thursday night when he said, “I told y’all I didn’t vote, right? But if I would’ve voted, I would’ve voted for Trump.” The crowd at the San Jose, California, show began booing West after his statement with some even leaving the show.
West also spoke about racism during the show, echoing his previous statements about the topic. “Specifically to black people, stop focusing on racism,” he said. “This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much… We are in a racist country. Period.”