West, Trump talk about 'multicultural issues'

Rapper Kanye West went to Trump Tower for a 15-minute chat with Republican President-elect Donald Trump on issues including bullying, education and violence.
Rapper Kanye West went to Trump Tower for a 15-minute chat with Republican President-elect Donald Trump on issues including bullying, education and violence.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • After weeks of reports of severe exhaustion and ensuing hospitalisation, rapper Kanye West met Republican President- elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss what he said were "multicultural issues", including bullying, education and violence.

His meeting at Manhattan's Trump Tower sent social media into a frenzy and fuelled speculation about a possible performance at Mr Trump's Jan 20 inauguration or an informal administration role for the rapper.

The chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Mr Tom Barrack, told CNN in an interview later on Tuesday that West would not be performing at the inauguration.

West, 39, later said on Twitter he had wanted to meet Mr Trump "to discuss multicultural issues".

"These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernising curriculums and violence in Chicago," tweeted the singer, who was raised in Chicago.

"I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change."

The 15-minute meeting was the first major outing by West and generated his first tweets since he was released on Nov 30 after a week in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital with an unexplained condition. It quickly became the top trending topic on Twitter.

He again teased the prospect of running for president himself, adding a last tweet that said simply #2024. Last year, he declared he was planning to run in 2020, but has given no details.

Asked about the purpose of the meeting, Mr Trump told reporters after the meeting: "Friends, just friends. He's a good man. Long time. Friends for a long time."

He added that the two had "discussed life".

West, sporting blond hair, dodged questions about the possibility of performing at the inauguration. He only smiled at reporters and said: "I just want to take a picture right now."

He made headlines last month when he was booed at a concert for declaring his support for Mr Trump, although he said he had not voted in the Nov 8 presidential election.

Ms Hope Hicks, Mr Trump's spokesman, said in an e-mail that West had requested the meeting, and "we were delighted to host him. They had a very positive and productive conversation."

Music stars including Beyonce, Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the election and no celebrities have yet been announced as taking part in the inauguration, although country singer Garth Brooks is in discussions to perform.

West was hospitalised last month following a series of rants and after he abruptly cancelled the rest of his United States tour.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'West, Trump talk about 'multicultural issues''. Print Edition | Subscribe