"When you hear about slavery for 400 years -- for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," West said during a live interview with TMZ on Tuesday. "Like, you was there for 400 years and it's all of y'all?"
During the interview, a TMZ employee shared his outrage with West, saying, "While you are making music ... and living the life that you've earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with ... the marginalization that's come from the 400 years that you said, for our people, was a 'choice,' ... I'm appalled." Later, West apologized to the employee.
West took to Twitter Tuesday night to clarify what he meant.
"To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will," he wrote. "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."
He continued in a flurry of tweets, "They cut out our tongues so we couldn't communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut ... they hung the most powerful in order to force fear into the others."
In an attempt to further his explain his reasoning, West said that people are programmed a certain way when it comes to race issues.
"The reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years," he added. "We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea."
He said that schools should focus on the future and success, not just the past.
Fans reactions remained mixed, even after his mea culpa.
Some just thought it was West's delivery that needs to be fixed.
"Kanye has the communication skills of a 10 year old. If he wants people to get what he's saying he needs to get his point across better instead of saying s--- like slavery is a choice."