On Tuesday (May 1), West told TMZ: “I’m a black person, a [member] of the black community, but I’m not just that. I’m always gonna represent that, but I also represent the world.”
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he argued. “We’re mentally imprisoned.”
West later clarified his views on Twitter, saying: “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 added.
Kanye West stirs up the TMZ newsroom over TRUMP, SLAVERY and FREE THOUGHT. There's A LOT more that went down … and the fireworks are exploding on @TMZLive today. Check your local listings for show times. pic.twitter.com/jwVsJCMPiq
— TMZ (@TMZ) May 1, 2018
Appearing on Good Morning Britain earlier today (May 2), Will.I.Am said that Kanye’s comments had “broke my heart” and made him “want to cry”.
“When you’re a slave, you’re owned,” the Black Eyed Peas star said. “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.”
Will.I.Am added: “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.”
The star also went on to say that the comments weren’t representative of the Kanye that he knew. “That’s not Kanye,” he said. “To me, that’s a different person that’s saying that”.
“I hope it’s not to raise awareness so you could sell a record 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.”
Will.I.Am then pleaded to West: “I encourage you, if you really believe this, give your shoes away for free, give your album away for free.”
“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,” Will.I.Am said.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 2, 2018
Will.I.Am also tweeted at Kanye to say: “The fact that the USA builds prisons & not schools, is not our choice”.
its not & never was by choice.
This wickedness was done by force & strategic conditioning.
& education deprivation is at the root.
The fact that the USA builds prisons & not schools, is not our choicehttps://t.co/eCSLcypo5W
— will.i.am (@iamwill) May 2, 2018
Kanye’s comments have also been criticised by the likes of Talib Kweli and Spike Lee. Kweli accused West of “putting targets on our backs”, while Lee told the rapper to “wake up”.
I will always have love for @kanyewest but bro out here putting targets on our backs. Slavery was not a choice.
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) May 1, 2018
View this post on Instagram
“SLAVERY…A CHOICE”❓❓❓My Brother,OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Stolen From Mother Africa. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Ripped Of Our Religion,Language,Culture. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Murdered, Lynched,Castrated,Raped,Burnt At The Stake,Families Sold Apart. OUR Ancestors Built This Country (On Land Stolen From The Native Americans)From The Ground Up Under The Institution Of SLAVERY. Where Is This Brother In The Picture Next To Me❓❓❓I Would Not Be Surprised If OUR Ancestors Are Not Pleased With Your Uneducated Comments. P.S. Your Retraction Does Not Undue The Harm You Cause To Our Beloved ANCESTORS. WAKE UP.????????????????????
This week has also seen the release of a big video interview between Kanye and radio host Charlamagne. Check out the best bits from that here.
West’s new album will be the follow-up to 2016’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’. Here’s everything we know about the release so far.