September 07, 2005 04:20 PM

In his first public appearance since his off-the-cuff remarks criticizing President Bush on an NBC telethon last weekend, Kanye West said he would stick to entertainment at this week’s NFL opening kickoff concert.

“I don’t want to detract from the show at all, because it’s entertainment, and a lot of times, in a time of need, we need entertainment to lift people’s spirits,” the rapper said at a news conference to promote Thursday’s free concert at the Los Angeles Coliseum, according to the Associated Press.

Friday night during the live, televised Concert for Hurricane Relief – with a surprised-looking Mike Myers standing at his side – West declared that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” and that America is set up “to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.”

His comments were deleted from the tape-delayed program before being shown on the West Coast.

At the press conference Tuesday, a solemn-looking West, 28, sidestepped questions about his TV editorial, saying only that the week’s events have been “a lot of pressure for one human being.” But he did say he would visit the Gulf Coast after the NFL event to assist personally in the relief effort, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Rev. Al Sharpton defended West’s comments, saying on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that NBC was wrong to edit out his statement about Bush.

“If he got on there calling women names, they wouldn’t have censored him,” Sharpton said. “For him to stand up for his own people, they censor. I think they should let Kanye say what needs to be said and let the president defend it if he wants to.”

Other celebrities – most notably Sean Penn and Pierce Brosnan – have also criticized the Bush administration for its sluggish response to the disaster, while Oprah Winfrey said the entire country owes an apology to both the surviving and the lost victims of the storm.

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