The same day that Kanye West released a reflective two-hour interview with Charlamagne the God, he also visited TMZ for a live interview that appeared to be wildly different. The rapper drew tremendous ire for his flippant comments about the history of American slavery.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years: For 400 years, that sounds like choice,” West said. “You was there for 400 years,” he added, seemingly in disbelief, “And it’s all of y’all?”
The video of West’s visit to TMZ also contained footage from an encounter with one of the outlet’s employees, Van Lathan, in the newsroom. “Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?” West asked the crowd. Van Lathan, who had a camera on him as he decided to speak, responded sharply, “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything.”
Lathan continued to address West: “While you are making music and being an artist and living a life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of in society have to deal with these threats in 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 our choice.”
West’s remarks stemmed from him explaining to TMZ’s Harvey Levin why he is proud to wear a Make America Great Again hat. “I just love Trump,” West said. “That’s my boy … So many rappers – you’ll look at a video of like Snoop Dogg, loving Trump, but then he gets into office and now [Snoop Dogg] don’t love him. Trump is one of rap’s favorite people.”
West also addressed his relationship with Trump when speaking to Charlamagne the God. “I would meet him today,” West noted. He acknowledged that many of his associates advised him not to voice his support for the President. “So many people around me said, don’t express your feelings,” West noted. “Why? ‘Your brand, your this, your that’ … They say, well, ‘what makes George Bush any more racist than Trump?’ … My response is, racism isn’t the deal-breaker for me. If that were the case, I wouldn’t live in America.”