Kanye West on Slavery Comments: 'I Never Said It's a Choice'

Kanye West sat down with the 'Times' for a wide-ranging chat on Trump, 'Ye,' family, Drake, Virgil, his collaborative approach to songwriting, and much more.

Kanye West's five-album marathon, which kicked off with Pusha-T's career best DAYTONA in May, arrived with a pair of widely shared (and just as widely divisive) video interviews. One, conducted with Charlamagne Tha God in Wyoming, presented a lengthy and often fascinating glimpse at an artist grappling with the ramifications of recklessly presented thoughts. The other, a very TMZ-y shitstorm even by TMZ standards, saw West utter the immediately and rightfully trashed "400 years? That sounds like a choice!" comment about slavery. On top of all that, West—despite seemingly backing away from his Trump support prior to this year—reaffirmed that support before the release of Ye by rocking a putrid MAGA hat and praising the neo-Nazi-sympathizer-in-chief's bullshit "dragon energy."

Now, in a new interview with the New York Times, West has re-addressed these moments in the light of Ye, Kids See Ghosts, and his production work on new albums from the aforementioned King Push and other G.O.O.D. affiliates. "I said the idea of sitting in something for 400 years sounds—sounds—like a choice to me, I never said it's a choice," he said. "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."


West added that, in his view, the Charlamagne interview was akin to "the most beautiful funeral," while the TMZ interview was like the casket opening up during said funeral. As for whether he would present these particulars ideas differently if given the chance, West isn't interested in framing "a one-liner or a headline."

Elsewhere, West was asked about his sporadic embraces of Trumpism, even though he's claimed before that he doesn't align with "all" of the former Apprentice host and current White House squatter's policies. "Having a political opinion that's overly informed, it's like knowing how to dress, as opposed to being a child—'I like this,'" he said. "I hear Trump talk and I'm like, I like the way it sounds, knowing that there's people who like me that don't like the way it sounds."

West also discussed the real-life inspirations behind Ye opener "I Thought About Killing You," Virgil Abloh, Drake (who, it's now confirmed, penned the chorus to "Yikes"), and more. Additionally, West detailed his collaborative songwriting process, saying it's more Tesla-esque than The Prestige and revealing that all of the Ye lyrics were written within 8 days of its release.

Read the full thing here, then ask yourself: Can you ever truly separate the artist from the art? And what, exactly, does the answer to that long-asked question mean for the listener?

Latest in Music