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Kanye West Not ‘Traditionally American,’ Says Trump Team

West was not invited to perform at Trump's inauguration because "it's not the venue."

President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West meet at Trump Tower. / REUTERS

Kanye West was not asked to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration because the event will be “typically and traditionally American,” according to the inauguration committee.

“We haven’t asked him,” committee chairman Tom Barrack told CNN. “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, and Kanye is a great guy, we just haven’t asked him to perform. We move on with our agenda.”

In addition to being a songwriter, fashion designer and entrepreneur, West, who was born in Atlanta, is a rapper and hip hop artist. Both genres of music originated in the United States.

Notably, Michael Flatley, a traditionally Irish dancer known for his role in “Riverdance,” is scheduled to perform on Friday. A member of Trump’s team also falsely reported to BBC that Elton John would be performing.

“Incorrect. He will NOT be performing,” a publicist for the British singer said in response.

John was born in England, not the United States.

Two insiders with the inauguration committee reported to The Wrap that they were struggling to find artists who were willing to perform.

“They are willing to pay anything,” one unnamed source said. “They told me, ‘We’ll pay their fees.’ Most of these artists’ fees are in the six to seven figures.” The insider said the Trump negotiator also offered to pay him for delivering top talent, saying, “Name your price.”

Another insider said it was strange that the team was willing to compensate anyone at all, reporting that neither Beyoncé Knowles nor Aretha Franklin, who both performed at ceremonies for the Obamas, were paid for their performances, only for production and travel expenses.

Trump’s team denied the rumor. Boris Epshteyn, spokesman for the committee, said in a statement, “We are focused on organizing an exciting and uniting celebration of freedom and democracy while following all rules, regulations and appropriate standards of conduct.”‎

But in addition to Elton John, a long list of other artists also said they would not perform even if they were asked, including singer John Legend.

“Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate,” Legend said to BBC. “We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that’s preaching division and hate and bigotry, it’s unlikely he’ll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him.”

Pop star Adam Lambert, an active figure in the LGBT community, said he would not be “endorsing that.”

“I don’t think I would take the money on that one,” he said.

On Thursday a pre-inaugural “Make America Great Again! Welcome Ceremony” took place. On the list of performers were country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood, rock band 3 Doors Down, soul singer Sam Moore, DJ RaviDrums, The Piano Guys and The Frontmen of Country (featuring Tim Rushlow, former lead singer of “Little Texas”; Richie McDonald of “Lonestar”; and Larry Stewart of “Restless Heart”).

Origins of Rap and Hip Hop

In the 1960s “rapping” was a term used in the Black community that referred to talking or having a conversation. While hip hop sometimes shares characteristics with rap music, which is considered to have African roots, the genre originated in the Bronx in the 1970s. According to “Investigations: Birthplace of Hip Hop” on PBS:

“The story goes that on August 11, 1973 DJ Kool Herc, a building resident, was entertaining at his sister’s back-to-school party, and tried something new on the turntable: he extended an instrumental beat (breaking or scratching) to let people dance longer (break dancing) and began MC’ing (rapping) during the extended breakdancing.

“This, the contributor believes, marked the birth of hip hop. The music led to an entire cultural movement that’s altered generational thinking – from politics and race to art and language.”

Rap music as it is known today also arguably stemmed from Herc, who was a Jamaican immigrant, as he further developed hip hop, BlackPast.org writes:

“Realizing that dancers became most energized during the parts of songs where the sole instrumentation was percussion, Herc used two copies of the same record to endlessly loop a beat, driving the dance-floor crazy. During performances, to further excite the crowd, Herc’s crew of hype-men, in the style of Jamaican dancehall toasting, would recite rhymes over the microphone, pioneering the art of rapping.”

Rap and hip hop music have both become largely mainstream today, and artists of the genres often use their platforms to address national social issues, making them in fact very traditionally American.

9 comments


  • “Typically and traditionally American” would include Native American drumming, Hawaiian and Latino music, Gospel, Jazz, etc., none of which so-called Birthers like Trump would include because they’re associated with ethic minorities, whom they don’t consider typical or traditional Americans. Michael Flatley, Elton John and Andrea Boccelli are not even Americans.

  • I am sure Trump supporters would not want to hear Kanye West perform.
    As usual, they come up with ridiculous explanations. Not American, right……

  • West’s most recent hit Stronger has dozens of vulgarities including of Sh*t and F*ck. He calls a woman a dyke. His works nearly always have something offensive and all of his albums carry offence warning labels. N*gga and N*gger are used with regularity. Every television appearance I’ve seen carry multiple bleep and silence. Although uniquely American and putting out great rhythms and beats I don’t think we will ever see the Kennedy Award for the arts bestowed upon him. And don’t place this exclusively on white folk (they buy most of his tunes). He has never been asked to sing in the White House…nor will he any time soon. Oh and he completely dissed Taylor Swift on live TV!

  • Saw only part if his entertainment at inauguration. Most folks like him. Did not see much diversity there.

    • Most folks who were there like him, but that’s significantly fewer people than President Obama’s last inauguration. Significantly fewer people than in the woman’s march is that occurred the next day. And he received significantly fewer votes than the hapless Hillary Clinton, who ran the worst candidacy I’ve seen since Dukakis.

      He is not a well-liked man. He’s liked by Vladimir Putin, though.

  • Trump’s Traditionally American is white only and not diverse or inclusive which is non-American.

  • Hip hop has been part of the American music scenes for nearly 40 years. What exactly isn’t American about it? I guess the trump team means it isn’t “white” enough for them, or that Kanye obviously isn’t enough of a trumpf supporter for them. What a stupid thing to say,though—that its not “typically and traditionally American”–maybe to them it isn’t, but us hip-hop fans would completely disagree.

    • This incident underscores the futility of trying to appease or befriend hateful people when they are in power. There are plenty of heart warming stories about former Ku Klux Klan members, white supremacists and Nazis changing their ways and becoming human beings, but that is never when they are in power.

      Evil will try to shame you into compliance. “Give him a chance”. Give him a chance to take away your liberty or execute you and your family? Why would you do that?

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