Kanye West sparks backlash after suggesting slavery 'is a choice'

A TMZ reporter told the rapper he was 'disappointed, appalled and unbelievably hurt' by the comments

Kanye West sparks backlash after suggesting slavery 'is a choice'

Kanye West. Picture by: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

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."

"I'm disappointed, I'm appalled"

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:

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.