Kanye West defended the comments he made in May of 2018 regarding slavery as “a choice” to The New York Times in an interview published on June 25, stating his words were “taken out of context” by the public.
West appeared on TMZ Live and gave his views on slavery in May of 2018. His remarked in the video, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice… we’re mentally imprisoned.”
In an interview for The New York Times, West remarked that the public’s reaction to his statements was not what he expected.
The rapper told the newspaper, “I said the idea of sitting in something for 400 years sounds — sounds — like a choice to me, I never said it’s a choice. I never said slavery itself — like being shackled in chains — was a choice. If you look at the clip you see the way my mind works.”
The Times reporter then asked the artist if he would change his remarks looking back on the media firestorm they caused.
“I wouldn’t frame a one-liner or a headline,” he said. “What I would say is actually it’s literally like I feel like I’m in court having to justify a robbery that I didn’t actually commit, where I’m having to somehow reframe something that I never said. I feel stupid to have to say out loud that I know that being put on the boat was — but also I’m not backing down bro.”
“What I will do is I’ll take responsibility for the fact that I allowed my voice to be used back to back in ways that were not protective of it when my voice means too much,” he concluded.
Within the context of the NYT article, West also remarked that an artist should be able to express themselves freely without the limits of criticism.
“We need to be able to be in situations where you can be irresponsible,” he said in the interview. “That’s one of the great privileges of an artist. An artist should be irresponsible in a way — a 3-year-old.”
West also addressed his concerns to The New York Times that his wife Kim Kardashian West and mother of his three children North, Saint, and Chicago would leave him after the fallout from his TMZ comments.
“There was a moment where I felt like after TMZ, maybe a week after that, I felt like the energy levels were low, and I called different family members and was asking, you know, ‘Was Kim thinking about leaving me after TMZ?'” he said to The New York Times. “So that was a real conversation.”
West’s latest album ye is available now.