Steve McQueen Explains the Meaning Behind Kanye West’s Erratic Behavior: ‘He Wants to be a Free Black Man’

The "12 Years a Slave" and "Widows" director worked with Kanye West on his "All Day/ I Feel That" music video.
Kanye West and Steve McQueen
Kanye West and Steve McQueen
Owen Kolasinski/

Kanye West’s polarizing behavior and love of Donald Trump has confounded many of his fans over the last several months, but at least one person understands where the rapper is coming from. Steve McQueen, the Oscar winner behind “12 Years a Slave” and the upcoming “Widows,” knows Kanye West after directing his “All Day/ I Feel That” video, and the director explained to Bossip his interpretation of the rapper’s recent trials and tribulations.

“Listen, I understand Kanye in a way. Well, I think I do, obviously, everyone thinks they understand people and don’t,” McQueen said. “What I’m trying to say is I understand it in a way that he wants to be a free Black man. He wants to be totally free. Free, free. He wants to be FREE.”

McQueen explained that West’s “idea of being free” manifests in “him having an idea of something that he believes in or him choosing against the majority of people.” West is doing whatever he wants to do, McQueen said, which is how the rapper is proving to the world he is “free of mental slavery, free from bondage.”

“As a Black man, I understand that in the western world,” McQueen said. “I don’t necessarily agree with how he is doing it but I know where it comes from. It comes from the idea of Black people being enslaved in one way, shape, form or the other and I totally get it. He wants to be liberated.”

McQueen stressed that he doesn’t agree with West’s actions, even if he can understand where they are coming from. “I spoke to him very briefly after the TMZ thing, I imagine a lot of people did,” the director said. “Obviously, I loved him but I didn’t think that was the platform to have that conversation. To say I was disappointed is an understatement of course, but its one of those things.”

McQueen returns to theaters with “Widows,” opening in theaters November 16 from 20th Century Fox.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.