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Kanye West joins Chance the Rapper at rally for mayoral candidate Amara Enyia

A day after opening up his checkbook for mayoral contender Amara Enyia, Kanye West lent his star power to her campaign with a surprise appearance Tuesday afternoon at a Woodlawn neighborhood “pull-up” event along with fellow hip hop superstar Chance the Rapper.

West sidled up in a neon orange hoodie a few minutes into the storefront spectacle at 63rd Street and Cottage Grove, as Enyia and Chance took turns on a megaphone discussing gentrification and unemployment.

But rather than the campaign platform, a good portion of the more than 300 supporters who flooded the sidewalk, were focused instead on elbowing their way through the crowd and craning their cellphones for snapshots of the rappers. Breathless teenagers climbed street signs for better views as Chicago police officers stood by trying, and mostly failing, to keep the throng from spilling onto the street.

Enyia gave kudos to West — whose $73,540 donation earlier this week settled her debt to the Illinois State Board of Elections for failing to file campaign finance reports since her run in the last mayoral election — and Chance, whose endorsement earlier this month instantly elevated her in the crowded field of candidates.

“Chance represents someone who has seen what we can do and what we can be as a city,” Enyia said to raucous applause.

West leaned against a wall listening to Enyia and Chance speak, whipping out his phone a few times to shoot video of the scene. He exchanged a few hushed words with Enyia before whispering to Chance that “I’ve got to bounce,” hustling away with his entourage after about five minutes.

Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia chats with Kanye West during a "pop-up" rally near East 63rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia chats with Kanye West during a “pull-up” rally near East 63rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

 

Chance the Rapper and Kanye West attend a "pop-up" rally for Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia near East 63rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chance the Rapper and Kanye West attend a “pull-up” rally for Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia near East 63rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

West’s donation was another shot in the arm for Enyia’s campaign, though opponents have pounced on her association with the polarizing celebrity and his fondness for President Donald Trump, among other controversial comments he has made, including on slavery. Earlier Tuesday, Enyia told the Chicago Sun-Times that she’s not a Trump supporter, asserting that West “put his money where his mouth is” in support of her policies.

Enyia said her “pull-up” event was the first in a series designed to “amplify the issues in that community,” choosing Woodlawn due to the pending construction of the Obama Presidential Center, and joining Chance in calling for a community benefits agreement before the center is built.

As the crowd swelled, the rally took on an informal Q-and-A format, with the persistent few who were able to clamber to the front asking questions about violence and homelessness — and pleading for selfies and autographs from Chance.

“Amara believes that, No. 1, bringing opportunities, bringing job programs, bringing better schooling, bringing better park district programming is integral to a child and eventually a man’s growth,” Chance said.

“My heart is literally exploding,” one girl said — on the condition of anonymity, because she cut class at nearby Robeson High School for a glimpse of Chance the Rapper. “He’s my idol. He’s right there.”

University of Chicago student Nigere Epps said Chance’s endorsement of Enyia pushed him to register to vote.

“It’s a great way to connect hip hop to political action,” Epps said of the gathering.

Enyia said they would hold another “pull-up” later this week in the Loop.