Kanye West is no stranger to shaky PR messaging. From the moment he interrupted Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech, Kanye practically became a meme of how to be known for bad behavior. The entertainer’s popular music and brash confidence bought him some grace from others who tended to laugh off Kanye’s line-crossing comments and attitudes, even as some fans loved him for saying things they were thinking.
Then, Kanye said something that no one was thinking, and it upset pretty much everyone. During an interview, West began to opine about slavery. During those comments, he noted four centuries of involuntary servitude in the Americas by saying: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice…”
The comments enraged fans and gave Kanye critics huge amounts of ammunition for their critiques. At least one member of the media, Van Lathan, challenged West directly, saying: “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.”
For West, not being “real,” is harsher criticism than just about anything else. He has staked his claim on shooting from the hip, no matter the consequences. Still, though, West didn’t seem bothered by the torrent of rage. He waited, letting the hubbub die down before choosing to address the issue, most recently on a Chicago radio station. During that conversation, West “properly” apologized for the comments, saying,
“I don’t know if I properly apologized for how that slave comment made people feel… So, I want to take this moment right now to say … I’m sorry for people who felt let down by that moment.” He went on to address his jilted fans directly, especially those directly hurt by his previous statements. “(This situation) showed me how much black people love me and how much black people count on me and depend on me and I appreciate that.”
During the radio interview, West was emotional and open, presenting a different side of the entertainer that many fans have not seen, at least apart from his music. So, is this message and presentation part of a “new” Kanye, or is it his way of trying to work back into the good graces of fans who were appalled at his comments? At this point, it’s tough to say. What is clear, though, is that when it comes to Kanye West, he will make his message heard, so you won’t have to wonder for long.