Kanye West is Building a ‘City of the Future’ in Haiti

Kanye West has had a tumultuous 2020, to say the least. The rapper made waves when he launched a campaign for president on July 4th after he had endorsed Donald Trump. He revealed shocking personal details about his marriage to Kim Kardashian West and has made headlines for various antics, including posting a video of himself urinating on one of his Grammy awards.

Kanye West Twitter
Kanye West | Photo by Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Kanye West is building a new city in Haiti

West’s newest venture is in the Caribbean. Haiti has borne the brunt of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters over the past several years, and remains one of the poorest countries on earth.

In a recent appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, West discussed a recent trip to Haiti and his newest project: creating an all-new, state-of-the-art city. President Jovenel Moïse gave West an island to develop his project. He took to Twitter after his appearance to clarify the details of the deal.

“Just to be clear: we are engaged with Haiti’s government to make a transformational investment to bring jobs, development, help support local farmers and fishermen and build a new ‘city of the future’ in a very beautiful country,” West said.

Kanye West smiling looking away from the camera wearing a red hat that says 'Make America Great Again'
Kanye West | Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Kanye West has done charity work in the past

While West’s announcement may seem a little out-of-the-blue, it isn’t the first time that West has used his platform and his resources to help those in need.

After his mother’s unexpected death in 2007, West teamed up with rapper Rhymefest to create Donda’s House, a charity that honored the memory of West’s mother who was an educator. But West gradually became less involved with the group, and in 2018, after a contentious public spat with Kardashian West, the organization renamed itself Art of Culture and distanced themselves from the rapper.

In 2019, West made a $1 million donation in Kardashian West’s name to organizations working for prison reform, including Cut 50, the Buried Alive Project, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Kanye West not smiling, looking at the camera
Kanye West | Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images/Getty Images

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Kanye West isn’t the only musician building a new city

Though West’s announcement of his “city of the future” in Haiti seems like the first of its kind, there’s another artist out there who’s been making the same plans for a while. In 2018, Senegalese-American singer Akon announced that he’s building his own city of the future in Senegal.

The city will be located in Mbodiène, about 75 miles away from the capital city of Dakar and just minutes from the international airport. Akon has become increasingly involved in the cryptocurrency space, and he announced that Akon City will run entirely on the artist’s unique cryptocurrency, AKOIN.

In early 2020, he confirmed that plans had been finalized with the Senegalese government, and $6 billion — about one-third of the necessary funding — was acquired to begin work on the project. In September, he released a statement describing his mission for the city: to provide a “home back home” for Black people of the diaspora who have been treated unfairly by the countries they live in.

“The system back home treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine. And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way,” he said. “So if you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”

Locals are excited for the project to begin and are hopeful that it will revitalize the area. “We have a lot of hope,” Mbodiène village chief Michel Diom said. “Many promised us projects, but we saw nothing.”