"When you hear about slavery for 400 years—for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," he said. "Like, you were there for 400 years and it's all of y'all? It's like we're mentally imprisoned. I like the word 'imprisoned' because slavery goes too directly to the idea of blacks. So prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race. That we're the human race."
After the clip surfaced, Kanye attempted to clarify his comments. "Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will," he tweeted. "My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means we were mentally enslaved."
Later, he explained that he mentioned "400 years" 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."
Kanye used the backlash to illustrate an ongoing theme of his: He refuses to be silenced by others.
Despite the negative reactions to his slave comments, Kanye declared his visit to TMZ a success.
He capped the spree of tweets by using a fake Harriet Tubman quote and giving the moment a title: "The overground hell road."
I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. - Harriet Tubman— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 2, 2018