Kanye West wants to amend, not abolish, the 13th Amendment, says he 'misspoke'

Kanye West is walking back his provocative statement calling for the abolition of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which eliminated slavery.

West, who recently changed his stage name to Ye, went on TMZ: Live Monday, five months after his controversial appearance during which he called slavery a “choice.” The husband of Kim Kardashian was asked to explain what he meant by his recent remark.

“What I want to say is ‘abolish’ was the wrong language, I misspoke by saying ‘abolish.’ ‘Amend’ is the right language,” West said. “What’s beautiful about our Constitution is we can amend it.”

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The “Yikes” rapper appears to take issue with the part that reads “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” essentially allowing for slavery in prisons.

“This translates to, in order to make a freed man a slave, all you have to do is convict them of a crime,” West said. (A friend of the rapper’s from Chicago actually wrote that explanation for him, which he read aloud from his phone.)

“What you’re saying is … you can use prison as a pretext to bring involuntary servitude back, is that what you’re saying?” Harvey Levin asked.

“Well it has,” West replied. Although he gave a rambling response, West seemed to want to drive home a point about how many African-American prisoners are first-time offenders serving sentences for nonviolent crimes or struggling with mental health issues.

Levin asked West exactly how the Constitution should be amended. “So that people cannot be forced to work in prison? What are you talking about?”

West pulled his phone back out and gave a long pause before responding.

“There should be a group, a modern-day group, of respected, super knowledgeable people. Not me as a celebrity with an opinion. There should be a group of super knowledgeable people that come from all cultures that then make the amendments on our Constitution,” he said. “I didn’t say modern, I didn’t say new because that notes a specific time, and time is used to control us and control our energy. So there needs to be people that look like the people who are being spoken about.”

“I’m trying to understand, are you focusing in on the prison part of the 13th Amendment? I just want to make sure I understand what you’re saying,” Levin asked.

“OK, what I’m saying is, in order to come up with the solution to this complicated issue, to get a soundbite from me would only cause some type of headline. So the soundbite I’m going to give you is … we need people to amend the 13th Amendment that look like the people that the 13th Amendment [is] talking about.”

“But what’s deficient about it in your view?” Levin asked.

“What’s deficient about it is the principals [who] wrote the Constitution were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, and John Adams,” West said, later adding, “all white men.”

Kanye West
Kanye West (Photo: Edward Berthelot/GC Images)

Levin noted it was Abraham Lincoln who really drove the 13th Amendment, causing West to complain about people trying to slip him up with facts. (“This is what liberals often do [to] Donald Trump,” West said.) Eventually, he brought it back around to the point he was trying to make.

“Right now there’s over 2 million black, African-Americans in prison, a lot for nonviolent crimes, a lot for first-time offenses, and 80 to 90 percent because they’ve been brainwashed and programmed to pick up a gun because that’s what’s hard,” West explained. “This country and the world has up to this point been run by fear and not by love. … That’s the end of my point right there.”

Prison reform is a passion shared by West’s famous wife as well.

During the rapper’s 40-minute interview, he also talked about wanting to bring Trump and Colin Kaepernick together. That would seem to be a tough assignment given that the president has been outspoken about the former NFL quarterback, calling football players who don’t stand for the national anthem sons of b****es.

“I’ve been calling Colin this morning, reaching him, so I can bring Colin to the White House so we can remove that ‘sons of b****es’ statement and we can be on the same page,” West said. It’s unclear if POTUS is aware of his friend’s plan or what Kaepernick’s response was (if any).

The remark came as West struggled to articulate why exactly he supports Trump despite some seemingly racist and hurtful remarks made by the president.

West didn’t shy away from expressing his love of his MAGA hat.

“I’ve got the right to wear what I want, that’s what’s so dope about this country. It’s a free country. I got the right to think what I want, I have the right to feel what I want and I will not be bullied because I do what I feel,” the rapper said at the top of the show.

He also clarified that it was not SNL staff who bullied him about the hat behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live this weekend, “it was my staff.”

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