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Kanye West Auditions for ‘American Idol’ In First of Many Likely Finale Stunts

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Not smiling makes Kanye West smile, but auditioning for American Idol makes him smile too.

Kanye’s staged tryout happened back in October, and now Idol‘s finally shared the video as it ramps up to the premiere of its final season on Wednesday night. Host Ryan Seacrest told E! News how it all went down. “We were in San Francisco, and they said, ‘We’ve got a contestant that’s just going to jump into the line,'” he explained. “And up walked Kim and Kanye—Kim pregnant and Kanye enthusiastic and ready to go in there. He walks in there and does a lyric about J.Lo from one of his songs.”

If you’re even a casual Yeezy fan, you know which song Ryan’s referring to: the Ray Charles-sampling “Gold Digger” from 2005. Like most brave Idol contenders, he performed the song a cappella. And he nailed it, of course, because he’s an actual professional rapper with more than a little bit of stage experience.

“My name is Kanye, I’m from the south side of Chicago,” he told the judges upon entering, as a faux-unfazed Keith Urban nodded casually and asked what Kanye does.

“Originally a producer, I always wanted to rap and no one really believed in me,” Kanye replied to a round of giggles and knowing winks (though it’s worth noting that this was absolutely true when Kanye first started out as a producer, and Roc-a-Fella Records’ Dame Dash initially refused to give him a chance as an MC). As Kim chatted with Ryan in the green room, Kanye gives it is all for an appreciative J. Lo and co. — and he’s rewarded for his efforts.

A cute stunt, or cloying in its scripted whimsy? Watch the Golden Ticket-winning audition above and let us know what you think.

The 15th and final season of American Idol premieres Wednesday, January 6 on Fox.

Looking Back: ‘Idol,’ ‘The Voice’ + ‘X Factor’ Winners Through the Years

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