It’s been nearly two months since Kanye West angered many of his fans and peers when he said slavery was a choice.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … That sounds like a choice,” he said in May. “Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
Soon after, the basic narrative — at least online — was that Kanye should be canceled, and Black folks should turn their backs on him once and for all.
But some of that chatter has died down since then, thanks to a string of well-crafted releases produced by the Chicago native, including his own “Ye” album, Pusha T’s “DAYTONA” project, his “Kids See Ghost” collaboration with Kid Cudi, plus, Nas and Teyana Taylor’s new LPs.
In a newly released interview with The New York Times, Kanye spoke about those much talked about slavery comments and admitted that whatever he wanted to say got lost in translation.
“I said the idea of sitting in something for 400 years sounds like a choice to me, I never said it’s a choice,” he explained. “I never said slavery itself — like being shackled in chains — was a choice. That’s why I went from slave to 400 years to mental prison to this and that. If you look at the clip you see the way my mind works.”
In another part of the interview, Kanye said despite those slavery comments and doing other things, like supporting Donald Trump and hanging around with conservative host Candace Owens, he doesn’t feel like Black folks will totally abandon him — even though they may be angry with him right now.
He also talked about his longtime friend Virgil Abloh, who was his creative collaborator for three years and designed some of his eye-catching album covers, including the artwork for the “Watch the Throne” LP. Abloh and Ye also interned at Fendi together at one point.
Since those days, Abloh has broken away from the GOOD Music boss and was named the artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton. And During an interview in April of this year, Kanye admitted that he was jealous of his friend’s new position, and many believed there was tension between the two.
But that didn’t seem to be the case when they reunited at the Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month, because they cried and embraced when they saw each other.
“I don’t know what might have been in your mind, but there might have been some place where you wonder if those dudes still talk like that and you saw we do,” said Kanye about the emotional greeting.
But once again, the rapper admitted that he felt like he was losing out to Abloh in the fashion world, which is the same way he felt about Drake beating him out in music. Now, however, Kanye said he’s changed his thinking and doesn’t want to be No.1 so bad.
“And it was this thing where it’s like ‘O.K., you’re not the No. 1 rapper, Drake’s the No. 1 rapper, but you’re the No. 1 with shoes or this or that.’ And it’s like yo, no more No. 1s. What’s the No. 1 tree over there? Just be one of them. All of them are beautiful.”
About his slavery comments, Kanye said he doesn’t feel the need to re-explain himself, because he didn’t mean to say anything wrong.
“I wouldn’t frame a one-liner or a headline,” he said. “What I would say is … I feel like I’m in court having to justify a robbery that I didn’t actually commit, where I’m having to somehow re-frame something that I never said.”
“I feel stupid to have to say out loud that I know that being put on the boat wasn’t [a choice],” Kanye added. “But also I’m not backing down. What I will do is I’ll take responsibility for the fact that I allowed my voice to be used back to back in ways that were not protective of it when my voice means too much.”