Musician Kanye West performs onstage at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty for iHeartMedia

Kanye West appears to declare Bill Cosby innocent

Only polarizing rap star Kanye West could steal Donald Trump’s spotlight. The self-declared “Yeezus” left fans scratching their heads, and in some cases outraged, when he inexplicably tweeted on the night of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary: “BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!” 

It’s still unclear whether the hip-hop star’s social media account was hacked. The reference to the embattled comedian, who has been accused by several dozen women of rape and who currently faces charges stemming from an alleged 2004 sexual assault on a former employee of his alma mater Temple University, came amid one of West’s prototypical Twitter rants — this one concerning a sneaker deal his sister-in-law Kylie Jenner purportedly may have reached with Puma. West, who is affiliated with Adidas, also tweeted apologies to NBA star Michael Jordan, whose Nike brand the rapper reportedly trashes on a new track.

As of Wednesday morning, the controversial Cosby tweet has yet to be deleted from West’s account, despite several prominent social media users condemning it. In the past, as he did with his recent string of insults directed at fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa and his former girlfriend Amber Rose, West has deleted uncouth tweets that have gotten him into trouble, but not this time. Ironically, in a recent song West appeared to be criticizing Cosby. In “Facts,” which debuted on New Year’s Eve, West rapped“Do anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby? Did he forget names just like Steve Harvey?” 

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Perhaps West was simply being provocative to draw attention to himself or it was meant to be ironic. Some have also speculated that a later tweet which included an image that read “Kylie was here,” implies that his sister-in-law may have been pranking him. Still, many of his followers, several of whom are women, are unamused:

The uproar over West’s apparent defense of Cosby also recalls the backlash caused by a series of tweets he posted in 2011 on the subject of abortion. West deeply offended reproductive rights advocates when he suggested that women (who he referred to as “gold diggin’ b***hes”) deliberately get impregnated to extort men for money.

Cosby, who has never previously been charged with a crime and who has denied all allegations against him in the past, has had some prominent defenders, especially within the black community, but that support appeared to be dwindling after accusers continued to come forward and a 2005 deposition testimony revealed that the comedian had admitted to giving women Quaaludes in the past for the purpose of sexual gratification. Besides West, comedian Eddie Griffin has been one of the few famous faces to stand by Cosby, recently claiming that the allegations against him are part of a conspiracy to tear down successful black men.

“There is a systematic effort to destroy every black male entertainer’s image. They want us all to have an asterisk by our name,” Griffin said in video interview with hip-hop tabloid website VladTV last December. “Nobody leaves this business clean,” he added. 

For his part, West has yet to extrapolate on what the intent or motivation was behind the seemingly pro-Cosby tweet on his account. He is currently prepping his new album, the title of which has been a source of contention, just like his penchant for public meltdowns.

Meanwhile, he also has remained mum on his plan to run for president in 2020, which he announced during an MTV Video Music Award acceptance speech last year. If he does indeed run, West will likely have to explain why he once appeared to align himself with perhaps the most infamous accused sexual predator of all time.