The current spectacle that is Kanye West continued to top itself on Tuesday, when the rapper “took over” the TMZ offices for a day and made more than a few questionable declarations.
While chatting with TMZ head honcho Harvey Levin and another producer, live on camera, Kanye referred to Donald Trump as his “brother,” and explained why he had previously tweeted a picture of himself in a Make America Great Again hat: “I felt a freedom in doing something that everybody tells you not to do.”
At one point, he declared, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
It’s a comment that set off a shockwave across social media as fans began disowning the artist that they previously loved.
Kanye then asked the room, “Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?”
That’s when TMZ producer Van Lathan jumped in to respond, voicing much of Twitter’s reaction, saying, “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything.”
Lathan continued, “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And 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 am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
Roxane Gay also tweeted regarding the broadcast, saying simply, “He is not a free thinker. He is a free moron who doesn’t read.”
To make himself “clear,” Kanye later took to Twitter to say, “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. … They cut our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut. … Once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas.”
Later that day, Kanye’s two-hour interview with Charlamagne Tha God was published, in which the rapper revealed that he had suffered an opioid addiction when doctors prescribed him painkillers after having liposuction surgery in 2016.
He said he had been hospitalized for two weeks, but eventually had a “breakthrough” and found himself in “a stronger place.”