Kanye Just Said Slavery Was A Choice. This TMZ Staffer Took Him To Task In An Epic Way.

"I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that's not real," said TMZ's Van Lathan after Kanye said slavery was a choice.

So we all know that Kanye has had a WEEK. He's professed his love for Trump/worn a MAGA hat, slammed Obama, and got the far right all excited.

Well, he visited the TMZ offices in Los Angeles on Tuesday, offering up his controversial thoughts about everything from "free thinking" to Trump, to slavery. Yep, slavery.

Kanye West stirs up the TMZ newsroom over TRUMP, SLAVERY and FREE THOUGHT. There's A LOT more that went down ... and the fireworks are exploding on @TMZLive today. Check your local listings for show times. https://t.co/jwVsJCMPiq

"When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," said Kanye. "You were there for 400 years and it's all of y'all. It's like we're mentally imprisoned."

The remarks quickly turned heads in the TMZ office.

Then something incredible happened. As Kanye was yelling at TMZ staffers about whether they thought he was "being free and thinking free" by speaking his mind, one TMZ employee directly challenged the rapper.

"I actually don't think you're thinking anything," said Van Lathan.

"We have to deal with the marginalization that's come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice," Lathan said.

"And 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," he said.

Kanye's face as he was being schooled said it all.

A TMZ source told BuzzFeed News that staffers were absolutely stunned when West began addressing the entire newsroom, and were even more shocked when Lathan pushed back. "That moment was not supposed to happen," the TMZ source said.

But Kanye wasn't done. "Black people have a tendency to focus and march when a white person kills a black person or wears a hat," said Kanye, who has been hanging out in recent days with right-wing figures. "But when it is 700 kids being killed in Chicago, it's ok. It's ok for blacks to kill blacks!"

Again, Lathan pushed back. "That's a lie!" he said.

Kanye wanted to come closer to Lathan to continue their discussion. "If I come over there, you're not going to fight me?" he asked.

"I am not going to hit Kanye West on TMZ," Lathan replied.

"You gotta be responsible. Your voice is too big," Lathan told him.

"There are people dedicating their lives to working throughout the problems of black people. There are black people every day, boots on the ground, they are all over the place working towards this," he said. "The narrative that black people don't care about black lives until a white person takes them is false. That is not true."

After a week of Kanye headlines, many people were floored by Lathan's words and bravado.

The gentleman caught the holy spirit and said what we've all been thinking to Kanye face to face. https://t.co/Wu1HeOT8sv

Some were thankful.

Man @VanLathan thank you for saying what you said to Kanye.

Others wanted him to run for president.

I want the guy schooling Kanye to run for president. https://t.co/7jlBtXrBS1

Some felt Lathan's response seemed like the "most heartfelt reprimand" of West.

Van Lathan gave what seems to be the most heartfelt reprimand. It wasn’t no dis rap or saucy tweet or call to get buddy beat up. You could hear the concern and disappointment.

But others just wanted this whole Kanye thing to be over with.

This is it. This should be it. I don't want to hear another word about this stupid motherfucker ever again. https://t.co/EmPJBjb4f1

Even Charlamagne tha God, who conducted an in-depth interview with West released Tuesday, said Lathan "didn't utter one lie."

My brother @vanlathan on @TMZ doing God’s work. He didn’t utter one lie to @kanyewest gotta get them to have a conversation later......

Later in the day, West followed up this tweet to ~clear things up~

to make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will

the reason why I brought up the 400 years point is 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 It was just an idea

once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas

However, while trying to ~clear things up,~ he falsely attributed a quote to Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery to become one of the most famous abolitionists and activists in American history.

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. - Harriet Tubman

People immediately pointed out that, nope, there is no evidence anywhere that Tubman ever said that.

@kanyewest https://t.co/3OoG1Lvvye Nope, try again

...as well as how easy it was to fact check.

@kanyewest btw, it literally took me 4 seconds to fact check this

So, yes, to summarize:


Van Lathan said what Kanye was doing was an "absence of thought." An earlier version of this post misquoted him.


Van Lathan is a senior producer at TMZ. A previous version of this post misidentified him as a reporter.

Skip to footer