A TMZ reporter told the rapper he was 'disappointed, appalled and unbelievably hurt' by the comments
US rapper Kanye West has sparked a backlash after suggesting slavery is 'a choice'.
The latest controversy follows a series of widely-shared tweets from West in which he expressed his support for Donald Trump.
He has also faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum following his praise of right-wing commentator Candace Owens and Parkland shooting survivor turned gun control advocate Emma González.
Speaking at the offices of celebrity news site TMZ yesterday, West claimed: "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. I like the word prison, because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks.
He added: "It's like slavery, holocaust. Holocaust - Jews, slavery is blacks. Prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race."
When asked to explain his comments, West suggested: "Yeah, right now we're choosing to be enslaved."
The comments provoked an immediate response from TMZ reporter Van Lathan.
He told West: "I don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing now is actually the absence of thought.
"Kanye, you're entitled to your opinion, you're entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact and real-life, real-world consequences behind everything you just said."
He added: "[The rest of us in society] have to deal with the marginalisation 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 that you have morphed into something that, for me, is not real."
Facing a widespread backlash following his comments, West took to Twitter to defend his remarks:
once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas— 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
During the TMZ interview, the 40-year-old rapper also commented on other aspects of his personal life.
West, who was hospitalised in 2016 after a series of cancelled concerts and public rants, said that he became addicted to opioids after being prescribed painkillers following liposuction operation.
West has broken a lengthy social media silence ahead of the release of two new albums next month.