‘I don’t think he’s trying to hurt anyone’: TMZ producer speaks out after Kanye calls slavery ‘a choice’

The TMZ producer who confronted Kanye West after the rapper said American slavery was a "choice" is speaking out.

"When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years, that sounds like choice," West said on "TMZ Live" last Tuesday after questions on his pro-President Donald Trump posts and pictures that caused a dust-up. "You was there for 400 years, and it's all of y'all?"

"Do you feel like I'm thinking free and feeling free?" West asked the TMZ employees in the room.

TMZ's senior producer Van Lathan told WGN Morning News during an interview Tuesday, the moment West turned around and asked the newsroom that question -- he knew he had to respond.

"I actually don't think you're thinking anything," Lathan quickly cracked back at West in front of the entire TMZ newsroom.

The senior producer said that after the confrontation, West walked over to him and apologized for hurting him.

"He just wanted to make sure that I knew he wasn't trying to hurt me," Lathan told WGN. "I think that's the interesting thing about everything that Kanye is doing. I don't think that he's actually trying to hurt anyone. But that's why it's important that people around him, and people that follow him, make sure that he's informed."

Lathan says he thinks Kanye was being genuine when he made the comment, and he doesn't think it was to sell records.

"I don't think Kanye West is a bad person. But if I thought for one second that all of this was just to sell records, if he was sort of confronting my ancestors or impugning their reputations in any way, or what they went through in any way just to sell records, I would then have to believe he was a bad person. And I don't think that he's doing that."