Following a string of Twitter rants last week, Kanye West turned up at the TMZ offices on Tuesday to film “TMZ Live” and made controversial comments about slavery that caused offense.
Things began when West was asked about his recent support of President Trump and his answer turned to the concept of freedom, prompting some controversial words about the United States’ history with slavery.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? Like, we’re mentally in prison. Like, slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks,” he said. “So prison is something that unites us as one race, blacks and whites being one race. We’re the human race.”
His comments caused at least one TMZ staffer to clap back. West and the staffer were filmed shouting across the newsroom, abandoning the interview format of “TMZ Live.”
“He was filming ‘TMZ live,’ which is always filmed in the office, and he just stood up and walked around and pretty much did the interview for the entire office,” a TMZ insider, who was there during filming, told Fox News. “He came with Candace Owens so [the interview was] controversial to say the least.”
In the clip from “TMZ” staffer, Van Lathan confronts West following the slavery comments.
“Do you feel that I’m feeling, do you feel that I’m being free and thinking free?!” West shouts in the office newsroom.
Lathan fires back: “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 that I feel like that is, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion; you’re entitled to believe whatever you want, but there’s fact and real life consequence behind everything you just said. 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’m unbelievable hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
West approaches him apologizing for hurting him, but Lathan just keeps lecturing the rapper about how his voice is too big. It didn’t take long for the clip to garner backlash on social media.
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“Just watched tmz video on YouTube so Kanye West said slavery was a choice. He is the stupidest ignorant person I ever seen he needs help. Sick human being,” one user wrote.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. 400 years?! That sounds like a choice.’ Just awful words from @kanyewest. He’s absolutely lost it. Thank you @VanLathan for being the voice of reason!!!” another user noted.
“How can you honestly sit there and say slavery was a choice,” a third user said shortly after the below video dropped.
West later took to Twitter to clarify his remarks in another thread of disjointed tweets.
“We need to have open discussions and ideas on unsettled pain,” he wrote.
“To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” he wrote. “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.”
“They cut out our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut,” he continued. “They hung the most powerful in order to force fear into the others. They can no longer stop our voice.”
Earlier on Tuesday, West posted a nearly two-hour interview with TV personality Charlamagne Tha God in which he covered many topics, including slavery as well.
“That was the moment that I wanted to use Bitcoin, when I saw Harriett Tubman on the $20 bill,” he said. “It’s like when you just see all the slave movies. It’s like why do you gotta keep reminding us about slavery? Why don’t you… put Michael Jordan on the $20 bill?”