A series of pro-Trump tweets from Kanye West sent the far right into a gleeful fit Wednesday, turning a simmering flirtation with the rapper into a full-blown love-fest from a conservative movement that more often rails against hip-hop and the entertainment industry than praises it.
West's Trump-themed tweetstorm Wednesday began with a message about "free thinkers," followed by the assertion that "you don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him." It eventually featured a picture of one of Trump's signature Make America Great Again hats, a screenshot of Trump retweeting West, and criticism of former Democratic president Barack Obama.
The tweets prompted significant head-scratching — and some backlash — from West's fans. But among high-profile figures on the far right, the rapper's comments were quickly hailed as a courageous pushback against mainstream liberal centers of cultural and political power.
The praise came from some of the most controversial figures on the right, many of whom have emerged in the wake of Trump's political rise, and some of whom have at times been accused of harboring racist and extremist views.
"The fact that they're flipping out so bad and trying to bully him into submission and he's not bowing down is powerful, it's a revolutionary idea," Jones said of West's response toward the reaction to his tweets. "It's the return of Americana and not being a coward and having your own internal compass."
"The fact is that he's standing up to the thought police and the bullies at an absolute critical time right now," Jones added.
Other right-wing figures had similar reactions. Controversial commentators such as Lucian Wintrich and Jack Posobiec suggested West's tweets were the beginning of some larger shift toward conservatism in the US. Others argued that West had been "redpilled," a recurring right-wing trope that derives from The Matrix and connotes embracing hard truths.
The right's embrace of West is a surprising twist, given the rapper's past support for liberal causes. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, West donated to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, and he has also expressed support for causes such as Black Lives Matter and gun control. Most famously, in the aftermath of the George W. Bush administration's botched response to 2005's Hurricane Katrina, West declared that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
He does, however, have a history of political heterodoxy and notably said in 2016 that had he voted, he would have cast his ballot for Trump.
Those conservative leanings apparently intensified over the last week, beginning with his praise for Trump-supporting YouTuber Candace Owens. On Monday, West tweeted nine video clips from a Periscope by Scott Adams, the controversial creator of the Dilbert comics who has been outspoken in his support for Trump.
Those initial tweets prompted a trickle of pro-Kanye content from the far right. Jones praised the rapper, while Breitbart published multiple pieces expressing support for West. A Kanye West room on Gab — a social network frequented by some on the far right — began filling up with pro-Kanye memes.
For some, the support of West was an abrupt about-face from past criticism of entertainers generally, and hip-hop music specifically. In 2015, for example, Jones blasted "hip-hop gangster culture" and compared the genre to a "cult brainwashing chant."
In 2016, Katrina Pierson — a former Trump campaign spokesperson who called West "woke" Wednesday — said that the entertainment industry and hip-hop music support "rape culture." Breitbart, which had at least seven posts about West's tweets on its homepage Wednesday evening, ran a piece in 2009 headlined "rap is crap." The article argued that the genre was degrading and "isn't music."
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the budding relationship between far-right tweeters and West, a black music artist from Chicago who currently lives in an affluent part of California. Beyond his tweets Wednesday, West hasn't directly addressed the support he's gotten from controversial right-wing figures like Jones.
He has, however, tweeted many times about being a free thinker and not following crowds — hinting that his eclectic political diatribes are not likely to end.