Kanye West on Thursday offered a simple explanation for his White Lives Matter T-shirt – saying he wore the controversial attire to a Paris runway show because “they do.”
The 45-year-old rapper doubled down on his decision to wear the shirt in an hour-long chat with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, where he also appeared shocked at the backlash the stunt caused.
“I do certain things out of a feeling,” West said. “I just channel the energy, it just feels right. It uses gut instinct, a connection to God and just plain brilliance,” he said of wearing the shirt.
West, who now legally goes by the first name Ye, said his father approached him about the shirt, which he found hilarious.
“I thought the shirt was a funny shirt. I thought the idea of wearing it was fun. And I said, ‘Dad, why do you think that’s funny?’ And he said, ‘Just a black guy stating the obvious.’”
West was publicly criticized by many – including Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and supermodel Gigi Hadid – for wearing the shirt at his runway show on Monday. Other models on the show wore the same shirt.
“They’re looking for an explanation — as an artist you don’t have to make an explanation, but as a leader you do,” the All of the Lights rapper told Carlson.
“So the answer to why I wrote ‘White Lives Matter’ on a t-shirt is that they do. It’s an obvious thing,” West said.
Amid the controversy, West’s contract with Adidas was reportedly put “under scrutiny”.
When Carlson asked rapper “Gold Digger” what he thought made the “White Lives Matter” statement so controversial, West blamed “a group mob” of “liberal Nazis” and the media, who he believes are pushing white societal norms.
“Because the same people who stripped us of our identity and called us a color told us what it means to be black and the slang to have,” he said.
He shared an anecdote about his father, a former Black Panther, who faced racial discrimination growing up in Delaware as one of, if not the only, black family. When his father attended a black university, West said his father was told by his black classmates that he “speaks white.”
The controversy behind the shirt, he said, stemmed from a black girl who said she felt “traumatized” after seeing it.
“It’s like a black girl saying, ‘I felt traumatized when I saw a black man wearing something he shouldn’t be wearing,'” he said.
He likened it to the 2012 Quinten Tarantino film Django Unchained, in which Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a house slave, gets upset with Jamie Fox’s character, a free black man, for being in antebellum America on a horse ridden.
“If we saw ourselves as a people and not a race, we would treat our people better,” West, who called the Black Lives Matter movement a “fraud” earlier this week, later said.
“In America, as black people, we look down on each other for how well we speak. But we speak English. There is nothing whiter than English. We’re actually not in our native language. So we judge each other by white finish lines, not by exactly what our culture is based on.”
West is no stranger to controversial dress choices. He wore a MAGA hat during his infamous visit to meet former President Donald Trump at the White House in 2018. The rapper wore a Confederate flag jacket back in 2013.
He told Carlson that his support, which he has expressed for President Donald Trump and other issues, has isolated him from friends and even put him at risk of violent attacks.
“My so-called friends/handlers around me told me that if I said I liked Trump, my career would be over. That my life would be over They said people get killed for wearing a hat like that. They threatened my life. They basically said I was going to get killed for wearing the hat,” West said.
“I had someone call me last night and say anyone wearing a white Lives Matter shirt gets the green light. That means they will beat you up if you wear it. I think, you know, okay, then give me the green light.”
More West interviews with Carlson are scheduled to air on his program tomorrow night.