Kanye West on Thursday offered a simple explanation for his “White Lives Matter” t-shirt — saying he wore the controversial attire at a Paris fashion show because “they do.”
The 45-year-old rapper doubled down on his decision to wear the shirt in an hour-long sit-down with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, where he also appeared shocked by the backlash the stunt caused.
“I do certain things from a feeling,” West said. “I just channel the energy, it just feels right. It’s using a gut instinct, a connection with God and just brilliance,” he said about wearing the shirt.
West, who now legally goes by the first name Ye, said his father had reached out to him about the shirt, which he found hilarious.
“I thought the shirt was a funny shirt. I thought the idea of wearing it was funny. And I said ‘Dad why do you think it’s funny?’ And he said ‘just a black man stating the obvious.’”
West has been criticized publicly by many — including Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and supermodel Gigi Hadid — for wearing the shirt to his fashion show on Monday. Other models in the show wore the same shirt.
“They’re looking for an explanation — as an artist you don’t have to give 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 shirt is they do. It’s an obvious thing,” West said.
In the wake of the controversy, West’s contract with Adidas was reportedly “under review.”
When Carlson asked the “Gold Digger” rapper what he thought made the “White Lives Matter” statement so controversial, West blamed “a group mob” of “liberal nazis” as well as the media, which he said pushes white societal norms.
“Because the same people that have stripped us of an identity and labeled us as a color have told us what it means to be black and the vernacular you’re supposed to have,” he said.
He told an anecdote about his father, a former Black Panther, facing racial discrimination growing up in Delaware as one of the only, if not the only, black family’s around. When his father attended an black university, West said his father was told by his black classmates that he “talked white.”
The controversy behind the shirt, he said, stemmed from a black girl saying 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 wasn’t supposed to wear,” he said.
He compared it to the movie Quinten Tarantino’s 2012 film “Django Unchained,” in which Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a house slave, is upset with Jamie Fox’s character, a free black man, for riding on a horse in antebellum America.
“If we saw ourselves as a people and not a race then we would treat our people better,” West, who called the Black Lives Matter movement a “scam” earlier this week, later said.
“In America, we as blacks we’ll look down each other on how good we speak. But we’re speaking English. There’s nothing whiter than English. We’re not in our native tongue, actually. So we judge each other on white goal lines, not based on exactly what our culture is based on.”
West is no stranger to contentious wardrobe choices. He wore a MAGA hat during his infamous visit with former President Donald Trump at the White House in 2018. The rapper has also previously donned a jacket with the Confederate flag on it back in 2013.
He told Carlson that his support he’s 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 if I said that I liked Trump that my career would be over. That my life would be over. They said stuff like people get killed for wearing a hat like that. They threatened my life. They basically said that I would be killed for wearing the hat,” West said.
“I had someone call me last night and said anybody wearing a white lives matter shirt is going to be green-lit. That means they are going to beat them up if they wear it. I’m like, you know, okay, green light me then.”
More of the West’s interview with Carlson is scheduled to air on his program tomorrow night.