After some of the ugliest months of his career, Kanye West’s long list of business associates is once again faced with a choice – stick with him, knowing that at any moment he could be hateful to anyone his soon-to-be ex-wife ‘s lengthy dissertation. The whole Jewish new boyfriend — or finally cut ties with the music superstar.
The 45-year-old rapper, now called Ye, has spent his career working with some of the biggest music, fashion and technology companies in the world — Apple, Adidas, Def Jam, CAA and Gap. Even after years of flirting with far-right politics, including support and meetings with former President Trump, he remains a popular collaborator.
Ye’s outbursts have often been forgiven in the past, in part because of his battle with bipolar disorder. But his recent moves have become less likely to defend or ignore, and some brands like Adidas have started pulling away.
“It’s not Will Smith’s slap in the face,” said Travis Knox, an associate professor at Chapman University. “His rhetoric is so racist, so anti-Semitic, he’s not going to get over it anytime soon. Impossible.”
Just last year, West’s wife Kim Kardashian filed for divorce, prompting West to publicly attack her and her family. West threatened her then-boyfriend Pete Davidson (including simulating murder in the music video for “Eazy”), and the Grammys canceled his planned performance at April’s ceremony, citing “about online behavior.” His longtime friend and collaborator Kid Cudi, who also cut ties with West this year, said: “It takes a… miracle for me and that guy to be friends again.”
Last week, West’s behavior came to light. He poses with far-right political commentator Candace Owens at the YZY show during Paris Fashion Week in a “White Lives Matter” shirt, a popular slogan for fascist and neo-Nazi groups. After facing widespread criticism, he posted that he would be participating in “Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” which prompted Instagram and later Twitter to take down his account. He then went on to appear on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, making further anti-Semitic rhetoric and claiming conspiracy over the school shooting in Uwald, Texas, among other lies. In unaired footage, he said someone had planted “fake kids” in his home to “sexualize my kids”.
Adidas, which produces his popular Yeezy shoe line, said in a statement last week that in light of his recent outburst, “after many private efforts to resolve the issue, we have decided to review the partnership.”
West responded on Instagram, writing: “I’m Adidas Adidas and I was raped and stole my designs by Adidas.”
To be sure, West remains a major force in pop music. With the exception of his debut album (“The College Dropout” in 2004), every album has topped the Billboard 200, including “Donda” in 2021, which earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year . In the run-up to “Donda,” he held public “listening parties” at football stadiums in Atlanta and Chicago and streamed it live on Apple Music (he was heavily criticized for featuring special guests DaBaby and Marilyn Manson, who have come under scrutiny for paranoid language or alleged abuse). His sold-out December show with Drake at the Los Angeles Coliseum showed that he’s still a formidable concert, one of the few hip-hop artists to make headlines at major music festivals around the world.
But his A-list status as a live performer may be shaky. He canceled at the last minute the headline performances of two of this year’s festivals — the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the sizzling Miami — leaving promoters only a few days to get their hands on new top performances.
Tariq Cherif, co-founder of Rolling Loud, told The Times in August, “Before Kanye’s exit, we never had the headlines, and we don’t take it lightly. The platform we built deserves respect, and we don’t like it. We Knowing he wasn’t ready to perform as Toutiao, we had to respect that and find a replacement. Unfortunately, we did our best.”
CAA, which currently represents West on tour, declined to comment on its current relationship with the artist. West’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, did not respond to a request for comment on their current working relationship. Representatives for AEG Presents, Coachella’s parent company and Live Nation declined to comment on West.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear who will release West’s next album. A source familiar with his deal with longtime record label Def Jam said he had fulfilled the terms of his record contract, making him a free agent. Although he was No. 1 10 times in a row. 1 album, and it’s uncertain whether a major record label (some of which is publicly traded) will carry the baggage that West brings. (Of course, West could choose to release future albums without traditional label support, as he did with “Donda 2” in February, which was only available with his own $200 Stem. streaming device is connected.)
Meanwhile, leading streaming service Spotify, which is still playing West’s music on many of its internal playlists, temporarily stopped promoting country star Morgan Warren after he was caught on video using the N word in February 2021 . A Spotify representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Other top entertainers have recently bounced back from public violations. After using a racist slur, Warren has returned to the sold-out arena and televised the Academy of Country Music honors. After years of racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, Mel Gibson is directing and starring in big movies. Brad Pitt’s career has yet to suffer after ex-wife Angelina Jolie accused Brad Pitt of suffocating their child on a plane. After winning an ugly defamation lawsuit with ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp is arguably more popular than ever in some circles.
West still has some illicit popularity in high fashion. At Paris Fashion Week, industry luminaries including Anna Wintour, John Galliano, Balenciaga designer (and West collaborator) Demna Gvasalia and Tiffany & Co.’s Alexandre Arnault (son of LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault) were in attendance. October. 3 runway events, he wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt. As Galliano himself demonstrated in his anti-Semitic outburst and comeback in 2011, the fashion industry will send you back to work if it believes in your talent and commercial viability.
It’s not clear who is backing his collection, but West said at the Paris fashion show, “Tonight we’re opening our own house.” Later, he told Women’s Wear Daily: “Why would I do a deal? I run a culture. … That’s what happens when you’re independent, you can’t rely on those big companies to deliver your vision. “
In September, West ended a partnership with apparel retailer Gap, citing distribution and retail issues. “Yeezy notified Gap of its concerns in August and gave the company a contractual 30 days to correct its violations,” Gravante told CNBC at the time. Gap CEO Mark Breitbard wrote in a company memo: “While our vision is to bring high-quality, edgy, functional design to everyone through Yeezy Gap’s unique omni-directional experience, how do we work together to achieve this vision? Doesn’t matter. Align.”
Big brands recognize that creative minds like Yeh’s can sometimes be unpredictable or questionable. But Americus Reed, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said it will be difficult for companies to justify partnering with him again after his latest outburst.
“This kind of thing is the death knell of celebrity sponsorship,” Reed said. “Celebrities don’t get paid to speak their minds, they get paid to maintain the brand, they get paid not to damage the brand.”
This is true even for media brands who might want to hear him speak or at least document his latest swings. Andscape reported that Ye had recently appeared on “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” which moved to YouTube this year after it aired on HBO, citing Maverick Carter of Spring Hill, CEO of the company that produced the series.
Carter told Andscape: “I believe he’s capable of a respectful discussion and he’s ready to address all of his recent comments. Unfortunately, he uses ‘shop’ to reiterate more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes. We have Decided not to air this episode or any of Kanye’s remarks.”
Even right-wing flamethrower Carlson had to remove the unreasonable gibberish from West’s two-part appearances on his show. Vice released leaked footage in which West claimed Planned Parenthood was formed “to control the Jewish population.” …when I say Jews, I mean the lost 12 tribes of Judas, the lineage of Christ, known as the black race. This is our people. blood of Christ. As a Christian, this is my belief. “
Some of the relationship breakdowns appear to have been instigated by the artist himself, long before his most recent outburst of racism.
Last week, Owens tweeted that JPMorgan had closed its banking relationship with Ye. As evidence of the so-called “cancellation” of financial institutions in the West, the claim gained traction in right-wing media.
“Earlier today, I learned that @kanyewest was officially kicked out of JPMorgan. I was told that no official reason was given, but they also sent this letter to confirm that he has until late November for Yeezy Empire looking for another place to store banks,” Owens tweeted on Thursday. She shared a screenshot of the letter.
A person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly said the letter was dated Sept. 11. 20, before the latest round of outbreaks.
West is one of the few artists with the resources to open his own retail store, self-release albums and book sold-out gigs. Last year, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.8 billion, largely from his sneaker deals with Adidas (though West claims that Forbes says he is not the richest black man in America).
But Reid said that whatever goodwill West might have maintained for his artistic vision and commercial prowess is now in real danger.
“Once you start going off track and attacking the CEO and doing all kinds of extreme things,” Reed said, “you’re making yourself radioactive.”