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Kanye West calls slavery a 'choice'

May 2, 2018

During an interview with TMZ, US rapper Kanye West said 400 years of slavery "sounds like a choice." After outrage ensued, the artist took to Twitter to try and explain himself.

Kanye West
Image: picture-alliance/Newscom

Kanye West has sparked outrage after he described slavery as a "choice" during a video interview posted on American celebrity news site TMZ.com on Tuesday.

"When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice," the 40-year-old rapper said in the interview,

"Do you feel like I'm thinking free and feeling free?" West asked TMZ employees in the room, to which TMZ’s Van Lathan responded, "I actually don't think you're thinking anything."

Read more: As slave trade abolition is celebrated, millions of Africans continue to live as slaves

Lathan said as West gets to live the life of an elite artist, "the rest of us 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."

Millions of Africans were brought to the present-day US, starting from late in the 16th century in colonies; the practice was not abolished in the US until the late 19th century.

Read more: Ghana: Rescuing children from slavery

West later took to Twitter and attempted to justify his comments.

"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."

'I just love Trump'

During the interview, West also emphasized his support for US President Donald Trump.

"I just love Trump," West said, adding that many people in the hip-hop community agreed with him before Trump became president. "Trump is one of rap's favorite people." One known exception to this would be Eminem, who last year issued a scathing video taking Trump to task.

Read more: Kanye West: The calculated impulsiveness of a hit maker

In a separate interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God, West said he had not followed Trump's policies but, "When I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that."

He also told TMZ that he became addicted to opioids that doctors had prescribed after he had liposuction surgery in 2016. As a result, he was hospitalized for a week and had to shorten his "Pablo" tour.

West said the painkillers led to him having a "breakdown," which then became a "breakthrough" when he found himself again.

law/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)