For years critics have denounced Ye for his rightwing views and comments – but only now are they costing him his career
In the span of two weeks, Kanye West has lost his talent representation, connections to major fashion houses and other lucrative relationships over recent anti-Black and antisemitic comments.
As sports brand Adidas ended its estimated €250m partnership with West on Tuesday, reportedly costing the Black American rapper his billionaire status, many are asking if the fashion and music mogul’s actions have ended his decades-long career.
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is not new to controversies.
Before the latest firestorm, Ye’s actions and comments have continuously been met with outrage, with many accusing his fashion and music partners of coddling offensive behavior.
Since 2016, Ye has faced a number of denouncements. Earlier that year, he was criticized for his embrace of right-wing politics, including sporting the infamous red “Make America Great Again” hat and publicly supporting former president Donald Trump. Ye announced this year that he would buy the far-right social media app Parler.
While performing at his later cancelled Saint Pablo tour in 2016, Ye gave a speech celebrating Trump while criticizing his fellow peers in the music industry such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Ye was later hospitalized during the tour for a psychiatric emergency. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and discussed his illness, though medical experts and advocates warn that his bigotry and mental health struggles are separate problems.
Since then, Ye has made a number of anti-Black comments. He once declared slavery a “choice” and said that abolitionist Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves”, prompting further backlash.
More recently, the family of George Floyd announced plans to sue Ye over comments he made that Floyd died of fentanyl use when a jury has concluded that Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, a killing captured on a cellphone video.
Several have also called out Ye for his harassment of his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, as well as her former boyfriend comedian Pete Davidson. Ye posted a number of screenshots to his Instagram and made threats against Davidson.
At one point, Ye bragged on social media that Davidson deleted his Instagram account amid escalating threats from Ye and his fanbase.
That was not the first time that Ye has been accused of bullying former partners. His ex-girlfriend Amber Rose said Ye had bullied her for 10 years after their two-year relationship ended in 2010.
This month, Ye received widespread criticism for T-shirts he presented at Paris fashion week that featured the white supremacist slogan “White Lives Matter”. He later gave those T-shirts to homeless people living in Los Angeles.
Ye also used his Instagram account to publicly insult a Black Vogue fashion editor who called out Ye’s collection, prompting Vogue to issue a statement condemning Ye’s remarks and later signaling that the magazine will no longer work with him.
Shortly after, several antisemitic outbursts and comments made by Ye appeared to be the last straw for many, with businesses publicly cutting ties with the artist and urging others to do the same. Ye has also been locked out of his social media accounts on Instagram and Twitter.
Talent agency CAA on Monday dropped Ye over his remarks. He is no longer signed to Def Jam, the production company that he was long associated with, after his contract expired in 2021. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are facing pressure to stop playing Ye’s music, the New York Times reported.
Weeks after Ye walked in Balenciaga’s Paris fashion week show, the brand shared that it had severed ties with him.
“Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist,” Kering, Balenciaga’s parent company, said to Women’s Wear Daily. The brand also removed associations with Ye from its website, including a collaboration between Yeezy Gap and the brand, Insider reported.
Ye publicly shared his displeasure with the Gap brand, announcing in September that he had terminated a collaboration agreement with the company. Gap countered that it had taken steps to end its partnership with Ye, announcing on Tuesday that the company is “taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap products from our stores” and shut down the Yeezy Gap website.
Two athletes represented by Ye also cut ties with him on Tuesday: Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and NFL superstar Aaron Donald. Both had been represented by Ye’s Donda Sports agency.
Brown had said in a recent interview that he wanted to stick by Donda Sports because “it represented education, it represented activism, disruption”. In the interview with the Boston Globe, Brown added: “It represented single-parent households, and a lot more people are involved in something like that.”
However, Brown on Tuesday struck a different chord, saying in a statement: “I … stand strongly against any antisemitism, hate speech, misrepresentation and oppressive rhetoric of any kind.”
Donald’s own statement added: “Hateful words and actions have consequences and … we must do better as human beings.”
Ye’s comments and actions have not only taken a toll on the artist’s social standing – they have also hurt his financial standing palpably.
As of Tuesday Ye was no longer featured on the Forbes billionaires list as the ranks of those who were done working with the mogul swelled.