New York - Rapper Kanye West, on the receiving end of criticism in the music world after backing President Donald Trump, sparked fresh outrage on Tuesday when he called slavery "a choice."
The rapper, never shy about expressing himself, made the comments in passing during one of two free-flowing interviews he gave as he promotes two upcoming albums.
"You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice," West told TMZ Live, the broadcast wing of the celebrity gossip site.
West elaborated little on his statement but appeared to be drawing a parallel to how he is presumed to hold certain views as an African American artist.
"We're mentally in prison. I like the word 'prison' because slavery is too direct to the idea of blacks. Like Holocaust is Jews, slavery is blacks," West said.
West's remarks immediately sparked an uproar on Twitter, his favourite medium, and he was taken to task live by a TMZ employee who said he was "appalled."
"I actually don't think you're thinking anything," TMZ's Van Lathan quickly cracked back at West.
Lathan said while West gets to live the elite artist's life, "the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats in our lives. We have to deal with the marginalisation that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was our choice."
WATCH A CLIP OF THE INTERVIEW HERE:
Symone D. Sanders, political commentator and CNN contributor, led the anti-West chorus on Twitter.
"Kanye is a dangerous caricature of a 'free-thinking' black person in America," Sanders tweeted. "Frankly, I am disgusted and I'm over it. Also (I can't believe I have to say this): Slavery was far from a choice."
Kanye is a dangerous caricature of an “free thinking” black person in America. Frankly, I am disgusted and I’m over it. Also (I can’t believe I have to say this): Slavery was far from a choice.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) May 1, 2018
Others put it more briefly.
"Slavery wasn't a choice," Russ Bengtson tweeted, "but listening to Kanye is."
Slavery wasn't a choice but listening to Kanye is.— DO NOT CONGRATULATE (@russbengtson) May 1, 2018
Following his comments, West took to Twitter to clarify.
"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 wrote.
READ ALL THE TWEETS HERE:
to make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
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— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
They cut out our tongues so we couldn't communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
the reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
The 40-year-old rapper, designer and husband of reality television star Kim Kardashian re-emerged on Twitter last month after a year-long absence that followed a purported mental breakdown.
He enraged many fellow artists - but was embraced by conservative commentators - as he praised Trump, who has since cited the rapper's words as evidence of minority support.
West also told TMZ that he became addicted to opioids that doctors prescribed after he had liposuction surgery in 2016. He was hospitalised for a week and had to cut short his Pablo tour. West said the painkillers drove him to a "breakdown," which became a "breakthrough" when he found himself again.
WATCH A CLIP OF THE INTERVIW HERE:
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."
West - who in 2005 made headlines by saying that then president George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people" - is one of the few prominent African Americans to support Trump.
The president built his political career by promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about his predecessor Barack Obama's birthplace and has been embroiled in a number of racial controversies since taking office.
Speaking to Charlamagne tha God, West said he was upset that Obama invited other rappers to the White House such as Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z.
Obama, in off-record small talk with a reporter in 2009 that leaked, called West a "jackass" after the rapper disrupted the MTV Video Music Awards to say that Taylor Swift did not deserve her prize.
"You know, he never called me to apologise," West said, explaining that Obama had met him and his mother before being elected president.
"The same person who sat down with me and my mom, I think should have communicated with me directly."
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: