Kanye West Responses To ‘Slavery Was A Choice’ Backlash


Kanye West took a break from tweeting to stop by TMZ’s newsroom and share his opinion that slavery was a “choice.

During a conversation on “TMZ Live” with Harvey Levin and Charles Latibeaudiere, West said:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. You was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because ‘slavery’ goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Slavery is to blacks as the Holocaust is to Jews. Prison is something that unites as one race, blacks and whites, that we’re the human race.”

Kanye West also further explained his support of President Donald Trump on the show after tweeting a picture last week of him wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. West said:

“I just love Trump. That’s my boy. Like so many rappers you’ll look at a video of Snoop Dogg loving Trump but then he get in the office and now they don’t want to love him.”

He concluded:

“Trump is one of rap’s favorite people,”

After that, Latibeaudiere jumped in to say that hip-hop artists have featured Trump in their music, West added:

“By the way, I am in hip-hop but I’m not just in hip-hop. I’m a black person, black community, but I’m not just that.”

He continued:

“I feel like one thing is people try to minimize me to artist, hip-hop, black community yeah I’m always going to represent that. But, I also represent the world.”

He said that his recent tweeting frenzy is a result of him thinking and feeling freely. West explained:

“We don’t know how to think for ourselves. We don’t know how to feel for ourselves. People say, ‘Feel free,’ but they don’t really want us to feel free. I felt a freedom and first of all just doing something that everyone tells you not to do.”

West said that society is “mentally in a prison” and that he prefers to use the word prison “because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks.” He compared the relationship between slavery and blacks to Holocaust and Jewish people.

“Prison is something that unites us as one race blacks and whites being one race. That we’re the human race.”

After West’s comments he asked the newsroom:

“Do you feel that I’m feeling, being free and thinking free?”

TMZ reporter Van Lathan responded, saying he is “disappointed” and “appalled” by West’s recent behavior. The video ends with West approached Lathan saying:

“Bro, I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Kanye West later tried to clarify his comments on Twitter, writing:

“Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. 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 went on:

“They cut out our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut.”

Check out the full interview below.

That led to a wave of criticism from fans, fellow artists and others on social media – including the viral hashtag #IfSlaveryWasAChoice.

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Will.i.am slammed Kanye West for claiming that “slavery is a choice”, saying that he “will not throw my ancestors under the bus to profit”. When asked about the comments on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Will.i.am said:

“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. And 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.

He adds:

“So 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.

He continued:

“That when they go down the street and there’s a liqueur store and fast-food restaurants and your education is not being funded the same way that it is being in Calabasas, when governments stifle and limit the amount of money that goes to Chicago, Bronx, Watts, 5th Ward Mississippi, East Los Angeles, where I’m from.”

Will.i.am added:

“That statement was one of the most ignorant statements that anybody who came from the hood could ever say about their ancestors, that slavery is a choice. What are you talking about.”

Speaking about his former friendship with West, Adams explained that the rapper was behaving like a “different person.” Will.i.am explained:

“To me, that’s a different person that’s saying that, and I hope it’s not to raise awareness so you could sell some records and some shoes, because that would be the worst thing to do, to stir up this very touchy race situation and you be the benefactor from it. So I encourage you, if you really believe this, give your shoes away for free, give your album away for free. And I don’t like talking about going against my community, but that is harmful. I will not throw my ancestors under the bus to profit.”

The star returned to Twitter two weeks ago after almost a year away. That’s pretty standard behaviour – lots of artists “go dark” on social media in the run-up to a new record, only to reappear in (what they hope is) a blaze of publicity when the release date draws near.

But West is instinctively a provocateur. He started to going off subject and tweeting about his admiration of Donald Trump and right-wing commentators who “challenge” conventional thoughts. Since the uproar about West’s comments, he has posted a series of tweets attempting to clarify them and said he was being “attacked for presenting new ideas”. He wrote on tweeter:

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018

His subsequent statements online and on camera, have only stoked the controversy further. But if this is all a marketing ploy, as Forbes suggests , it’s backfiring spectacularly. Because unless I’m mistaken, alienating your fanbase isn’t a commonly accepted principle of advertising.

All the same, West will use the controversy to fuel his music. After all, the song he released on Saturday, Ye Vs The People, which sees fellow rap star TI challenging his views, was apparently recorded just 48 hours earlier. So he’s reacting and creating in addition to provoking and promoting, which makes this a curiously compelling moment in music.