Kanye West is making headlines for a lot of things these days, including his support of Donald Trump. But his recent comments about slavery have stunned even his closest allies. During an interview with TMZ Live on Tuesday, the rapper shocked viewers by saying that slavery in America was a choice.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years?” West said. “That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
He later asked the TMZ crew, “Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?”
TMZ employee Van Lathan immediately fired back at the entertainer, telling him: “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want.
“But there is fact and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And while you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said, for our people, was a choice.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
The backlash among the entertainer’s friends and fans was immediate. West later tweeted, “of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will”.
He added: “My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved.”
He also claimed he was “being attacked for presenting new ideas.”
Will.i.am, Others Heartbroken By West’s Words
Musician Will.i.am. appeared on Good Morning Britain Wednesday and expressed his sadness over West’s remarks.
“That broke my heart because I thought about my grandma, who was born in 1920, and her connection with her mom who raised her, who was born in the (late) 1800s, and my grandmother’s grandma, who was a slave,” he said. “When you’re a slave, you’re owned. You don’t choose if you’re owned. When you’re a slave you’re deprived of education. That’s not choice, that’s by force.
“I understand the need to have free thought, but if your thoughts aren’t researched, that is just going to hurt those that are still in conditions where it’s not choice that when they go down the street there’s a liquor store and fast food restaurants, and your education is not being funded the same way it is in Calabasas.”
Feminist writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “I don’t have the energy for nonsense but Kanye saying slavery was a choice reiterates my previous statements about how dangerous his trite, shallow ramblings are. He is not a free thinker. He is a free moron who doesn’t read.”
During the TMZ interview West also reinstated his “love” for Trump by calling him “one of rap’s favourite people.” For the past week, the rapper has been tweeting his support for the president, calling him his “brother” and posting a picture of a “Make America Great Again” hat that was signed by the president.
West Also Admitted To Liposuction, Opioid Abuse
The taped appearance with TMZ followed the release of a two-hour interview with Charlamagne Tha God from The Breakfast Club, which was filmed in April at West’s home in California. The rapper confessed he became addicted to opioids following liposuction surgery in 2016.
“I was addicted to opioids. I had plastic surgery because I was trying to look good for y’all,” he explained. “I got liposuction because I didn’t want y’all to call me fat like y’all called Rob [Kardashian] at the wedding and made him fly home before me and Kim got married. I didn’t want y’all to call me fat so I got liposuction, right? And they gave me opioids, right? And I started taking two of them and then drive into work on the opioids, right? And then … I’d always ask my boy, you know, ‘We on tour give me some weed blah, blah, blah,’ so he had to go get me the opioids. And there was talks amongst my camp like, ‘Ye’s popping pills,’ so when he handed them to me he said you know this is used to kill genius, so I didn’t take it. Two days later I was in the hospital.”
West was hospitalized for a week, which at the time was blamed on “exhaustion.” He is now calling the incident a “breakthrough.”