Rapper Kanye West, officially known as Ye, sparked controversy in October 2022 with a slew of deplorable actions, including making anti-Semitic remarks on social media and wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during the Paris Fashion Week.
Over the next few days, several top brands and athletes associated with the American rapper ended their relationship with him. As a result, Ye, who owns some of the most expensive things such as ranches and a Boeing 747, is no longer a billionaire on Forbes’ list — a status he enjoyed since 2020.
Controversy and condemnation: How Kanye West paved the path of his own downfall
Ye held a private show for 100 guests at the Paris Fashion Week on October 3. At this show, he was photographed wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt. The slogan was criticised by many as a fascist call in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. According to hate group tracker Southern Poverty Law Centre, White Lives Matter is a neo-Nazi group.
On October 8 2022, he posted anti-Semitic comments on Twitter and Instagram that violated the policies of the platforms. In one of his posts, which was later removed, Ye had said he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
“You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda,” he said in the same tweet.
Before putting out the comment, Ye took to Instagram, accusing record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs of being influenced by “the Jewish people.”
The Anti-Defamation League slammed Ye’s post, calling it “deeply troubling, dangerous, and antisemitic, period.”
“There is no excuse for his propagating of white supremacist slogans and classic antisemitism about Jewish power, especially with the platform he has,” the League said in a statement.
As a result, Ye was locked out of Twitter while Meta restricted his Instagram account.
The furore over Ye’s posts also led his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, who is one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram, to issue a statement condemning his remarks.
“Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end,” Kardashian posted on both Twitter and Instagram without naming Ye.
Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.
— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) October 24, 2022
Days later, Ye appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and made conspiratorial comments which were not aired by the channel.
Yet, according to TIME magazine, the unaired footage was later made public, and it shows Ye making unfounded claims on abortion as well as passing fatphobic comments about American singer-rapper Lizzo.
In the same interview, Ye defended his decision to wear the “White Lives Matter” T-shirt. “I said, ‘I thought the shirt was a funny shirt; I thought the idea of me wearing it was funny,’” he told Carlson. “And I said, ‘Dad, why did you think it was funny?’ He said, ‘Just a Black man stating the obvious.’”
He also claimed that former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, negotiated Middle East peace deals “to make money.”
Criticisms from celebrities
Following Ye’s comments and actions, an American white supremacist, anti-Semitic hate group named Goyim Defense League reportedly unfurled a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” on a Los Angeles flyover. Members of the group also reportedly did a Nazi salute.
Several top Hollywood celebrities pointed out that this was because of Ye. Comedian Sarah Silverman shared the picture of the hate group unfurling the banner and wrote: “Lemme guess: still not time to get scared.”
“Anti-semitism in any form is deplorable. In person. Online. Doesn’t matter where. It’s hate and it’s unacceptable,” tweeted Reese Witherspoon, adding, “Completely understand why my Jewish friends/colleagues are frightened for their families. This is a very scary time.”
Completely understand why my Jewish friends/ colleagues are frightened for their families. This is a very scary time.
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) October 24, 2022
Actor Florence Pugh also shared the picture of the banner on her Instagram account, captioning it: “Absolutely appalling.”
Companies that have ended their association with Kanye West amid the controversy
As things got heated further around Ye’s remarks, several top names from the world of business that were associated with the rapper terminated their relationship with him.
JP Morgan Chase severs ties
JP Morgan Chase has cut ties with Ye, but, according to reports, the bank’s decision was made before the recent controversy around the musician.
According to a letter shared on Twitter by conservative US commentator Candace Owens, the bank, on September 20, terminated its association with both Ye and his label Yeezy Inc. Owens shared the letter on October 12, which is when the news became public.
According to The New York Times, which verified the development, the bank will maintain the accounts till November 21 within which Ye needs to transfer them to another bank.
On October 12, Kanye West addressed all the controversy around him telling Page Six. He said, “Hey, if you call somebody out for bad business, that means you’re being antisemitic. I feel happy to have crossed the line of that idea so we can speak openly about things, like getting cancelled by a bank.”
He claimed that he was “the richest Black man in American history.” Ye had previously criticised the bank’s leadership, alleging that he was not granted access to the CEO Jamie Dimon.
Drinks Champs removes podcast
Kanye West appeared in a podcast for Drink Champs hosted by N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN where he made conspiratorial claims about the death of George Floyd and addressed the growing controversy around him over his “White Lives Matter” T-shirt.
On October 18, a representative for Drink Champs told The Hollywood Reporter that the episode had been pulled.
“Drink Champs prides itself on its ability to allow a free flow of ideas within the hip hop community. That being said, unfortunately, the recent interview with Kanye West contained false and hurtful information regarding the circumstances surrounding the murder of George Floyd. Integrity is very important and we don’t want to promote false narratives on our platform. Our goal is to celebrate the culture,” the representative said in a statement.
“Therefore, we had no choice but to remove the episode from distribution. We apologize to the family of Mr. Floyd and anyone else hurt by this episode,” the representative said.
Fashion houses, filmmakers, and other major brands as well as sports stars have also ended any association they had with Ye.
Balenciaga and Kering pull the plug
Paris-based fashion house Balenciaga and its parent company Kering ended ties with him on October 21.
“Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist,” Kering said in a statement to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). The company did not specifically state the reason.
Interestingly, Ye had walked at Balenciaga’s ready-to-wear show at the Paris Fashion Week early in October, which the brand’s creative director Demna called an “iconic moment.”
Vogue and Anna Wintour end their relationship with Ye
On October 21, Page Six reported both Vogue and its editor-in-chief Anna Wintour have terminated their association with Kanye West following the controversy around his anti-Semitic comments as well as the White Lives Matter issue. Wintour and Ye have had a long association, dating back to 2009.
According to the report, Wintour was seen sporting the new sunglasses by Yeezy in press images released in September, despite Ye having publicly bullied Kardashian online over their children.
The report also said that on October 4, Wintour sent famed film director Baz Luhrmann to document the rapper’s patch up with one of her editors, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.
Ye’s agency CAA removes him, former agency CTA condemns rapper
On 24 October, Deadline confirmed that CAA, one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, had severed its ties with Ye following the remarks. According to the report, CAA represented Ye only for his tours. Ye signed with the agency in 2016 but has not gone on a tour ever since, Deadline said.
Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of UTA, which was Ye’s agency before he moved to CAA, also issued a call for a boycott of the rapper in a company-wide memo on October 23, reported Variety.
“Regrettably, antisemitism, racism and many forms of hate and intolerance are part of the fabric of society. Generally, they live as a plague eroding the health of communities and are combatted by understanding, tolerance and the general goodness of most people,” Zimmer wrote.
“But throughout history some have used their public platform to spew the plague out loud and spread the contagion to dangerous effect. Kanye is the latest to do so, and we’re seeing how his words embolden others to amplify their vile beliefs. I’ve also seen copies of horribly antisemitic flyers left this weekend on the doorsteps of homes in LA neighborhoods, showing that the 405 banners are not the end of it,” the memo read.
MRC shelves completed documentary
On the same day, production house MRC announced that it was shelving a completed documentary on Ye following the controversy.
“This morning, after discussion with our filmmakers and distribution partners, we made the decision not to proceed with any distribution for our recently completed documentary about Kanye West. We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,” wrote MRC studio executives Asif Satchu, Modi Wiczyk and Scott Tenley in a memo.
“Kanye is a producer and sampler of music. Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3,000 years — the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain,” the memo read.
“The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising. What is new and sad, is the fear Jews have about speaking out in their own defense,” the trio added.
Adidas suffers massive loss but ends ties
Amid growing pressure, Adidas decided to suffer a loss of USD 246 million to its net income by ending its association with Ye.
In a statement released on 28 October, Adidas said that it conducted a “thorough review” of its relationship with the rapper and has decided to stop payments to Ye and his companies, and end production of the Yeezy line with immediate effect.
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the German sportswear brand said in its statement.
“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” it added.
Following the Paris Fashion Week controversy, Adidas had already stated that it was reviewing its relationship with Ye. Without mentioning the controversy, Adidas had then said that “successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values.”
According to Forbes, Ye’s share of the deal with Adidas stood at USD 1.5 billion. The end of the deal means that his net worth has now fallen to USD 400 million.
Top sports stars leave Donda Sports
Hours after Adidas terminated its contract with Ye, Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced they were leaving Ye’s agency, Donda Sports, over the anti-Semitic comments.
Brown had, a day before, said that he will remain with the agency.
“In the past 24 hours, I’ve been able to reflect and better understand how my previous statements lack clarity in expressing my stance against recent insensitive public remarks and actions,” Brown said in his statement announcing the end of his association.
He added, “For that, I apologize. And in this, I seek to be as clear as possible. I have always, and will always, continue to stand strongly against any antisemitism, hate speech, misrepresentation, and oppressive rhetoric of any kind.”
“In light of that, after sharing in conversations, I now recognize that there are times when my voice and my position can’t coexist in spaces that don’t correspond with my stance or my values. And, for that reason, I am terminating my association with Donda Sports,” he said.
In his statement, Donald said, “As parents and members of society, we felt a responsibility to send a clear message that hateful words and actions have consequences and that we must do better as human beings.”
He condemned Ye’s remarks as “the exact opposite of how we choose to live our lives and raise our children.”
Gap removing all Yeezy products
Gap, which ended its Yeezy Gap partnership with Ye in September, announced that it was taking “immediate steps” to remove all Yeezy products from all its stores as well as website following the controversy.
“In September, Gap announced ending its Yeezy Gap partnership. Our former partner’s recent remarks and behavior further underscore why,” the company said in a statement on 25 October.
“We are taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap product from our stores and we have shut down YeezyGap.com,” it added.
Skechers removes Ye from its corporate offices
A day after Adidas’ decision, Ye arrived at the Los Angeles corporate office of footwear brand Skechers but was escorted out by the company’s executives.
In a statement issued on October 26, Skechers noted that Ye “arrived unannounced and without invitation.”
“Skechers is not considering and has no intention of working with West. We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech. The Company would like to again stress that West showed up unannounced and uninvited to Skechers corporate offices,” the company said.
(Main and Featured images: Saul Loeb/AFP)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India