Has Kanye Wests' breakdown brought his fan-base crashing down? After his TMZ interview on Tuesday (1 May 2018), fans have been fighting back, saying that they no longer support the new direction he has taken. The rapper described slavery as a "choice", praised Donald Trump for doing "the impossible" by becoming U.S. president, and attributed his 2016 mental breakdown to opioid addiction. That's a lot to take in at once but it all started with West emerging from a year's silence on Twitter two weeks ago, posting up to 20 tweets an hour on topics ranging from politics to philosophy and fashion.
He then spoke freely about his break down in 2016 with TMZ. West was booked into a hospital after he presented with erratic behaviour on his Saint Pablo tour. He told Charlamagne tha God that the breakdown (or as he refers to it, the breakthrough) could have been due to "fear," "stress," "being controlled" and several traumatic events that took place beforehand. West admitted that he was frustrated that his album "Life of Pablo" wasn't seeing more radio play, which he thought may have been the backlash from the Taylor Swift incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. "Ever since the Taylor Swift moment, it's never been the same," he said. "It was much harder after that." Another factor, he added, was his wife, Kim Kardashian West, being held up at gunpoint in Paris, and a third was the backlash he received at a 2016 Yeezy fashion show. "I was 45 minutes late and they LeBron'd me. Remember when LeBron [James] went to Miami? They killed him and burned his jersey," West said. "I felt like it was the fashion community getting the right to say n----- without saying it."
There is no doubt that loved ones being held at gunpoint is enough to scare anyone and Kim reported that she overheard the robbers saying that they had waited for West to leave so they were able to target her alone. He also mentioned in the interview that he was hurt that Jay-Z and Beyoncé didn't attend his wedding in 2014 saying: "I understand they were going through some things," he acknowledged, "but if it's family, you're not gonna miss a wedding." West admitted that he was addicted to drugs after he had undergone plastic surgery and got hooked leading up to his hospitalisation saying: “I had plastic surgery because I was trying to look good for y’all. I got liposuction because I didn’t want y’all to call me fat like y’all called Rob [Kardashian] at the wedding and made him fly home before me and Kim got married," saying, "They gave me opioids."
When asked about his thoughts on the Barack Obama incidents in which West said that Obama met with him and his mother before he ran for office "because I am his favorite artist of all time." ("I am the greatest artist of all time. It makes sense! He's got good taste," he added.). After Obama saw West disrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards he called West a "jackass". During the interview, he reflected on the situation saying: "You know, he never called me to apologise. The same person who sat down with me and my mom, I think should have communicated with me directly." However, he doesn't appear to be holding any grudges and said "I love Obama. I'm sure we'll hang out, go to Richard Branson's island, whatever, it'll be cool. I just think we were in a period where he had so much stuff to deal with, he couldn't deal with a wildcard like me."
But when talking about the current president of the United States, West reaffirmed his “love” for Trump to TMZ, saying the president is “one of rap’s favorite people.” His comments supporting Trump came after a series of similar tweets last week, during which West posted a picture of a red “Make America Great Again” hat signed by Trump. “We are both dragon energy,” West posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” The president retweeted West, saying the tweet was “very cool!”
By far the most controversial point in the interview was when West suggested that American slavery was a “choice.” “When you hear about slavery for 400 years – for 400 years?” West said. “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.” He then turned to the TMZ employees in the offices asking: “Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?” to which a specific employee, Van Lathan, fired back and dropped the proverbial mic saying: “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” Lathan said. “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want.” Lathan continued: “But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And while you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We 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 by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
Support for Lathan's response poured in with feminist writer, Roxane Gay, tweeting, “I don’t have the energy for nonsense but Kanye saying slavery was a choice reiterates my previous statements about how dangerous his trite, shallow ramblings are. He is not a free thinker. He is a free moron who doesn’t read.” Of course, West took to Twitter to defend himself saying: “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 that we were mentally enslaved. They cut our tongues so we couldn’t communicate with each other,” he added. “I will not allow my tongue to be cut.” The civil rights group NAACP said in a Twitter response addressed to West, "There is a lot of misinformation out there and we are happy to provide insight. Black people have fought against slavery since we first landed on this continent."
It seems that his fans and probably most of the world won't allow their thoughts to flow freely into the realm of offensive nonsense.
Check out the full interview below.