Kanye West Brand Drops

One of the most influential rappers of all time, Kanye West (now known as Ye), has been the center of headlines recently after a series of controversial remarks in the last month.  West is a well-known public figure who has released twelve studio albums, won 21 Grammys, and produced a successful clothing brand, Yeezy.  

The artist’s actions have stripped him of his billionaire status, taking his net worth from $2.0 billion to $400 million, a loss of $1.5 billion.  His album sales have gone down 23 percent, and his radio airplay times are down 17.5 percent.  West’s accounts on Instagram and Twitter have been disabled due to hate speech, but he remains apathetic about the fact that everything he has created is spiraling right in front of him.  

West has always been known to push boundaries, but recently, he’s been crossing many lines and permanently burning bridges with many powerful people.  This began when he appeared at Paris Fashion Week with conservative author and political commentator Candace Owens, who were both wearing custom shirts that read “White Lives Matter” on the back.  

“White Lives Matter” is a white supremacist phrase that was coined in an attempt to undermine the “Black Lives Matter” social justice movement in 2020.  Many were naturally enraged that someone with such a huge influence would parade around with a harmful message.  

After heaps of social media backlash, Owens went on Tucker Carlson Tonight, a political talk show, and explained how she was happy to appear in the shirts with Ye and explained why she believed it demonstrated the hypocrisy of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.  Since “White Lives Matter” is considered to be a form of hate speech on many social media platforms, many of Ye’s accounts have been revoked.  

The next fatal blow to West’s reputation came when he began making directly antisemitic posts on Twitter. 

“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” said Ye on Twitter.  

Communities of people in every corner of the internet were outraged.  West was a central point of discussion on both social media and in national news headlines.  There was a feeling of disgust, as he was blatantly spreading hate.  

This wasn’t the first antisemitic remark West has made.  In 2013, West said, “Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people.”  This sentiment amplified harmful stereotypes.  

These actions have been deemed unforgivable by many, especially those who believe that West should take more responsibility for the sway he has over younger generations.  For instance, a group of alleged neo-Nazis were displaying a banner of the Los Angeles freeway saying “Kanye is right about the Jews.”  

“I think it’s so upsetting the way that Kanye has been talking about Jewish people in the media.  It is extremely disrespectful, and he deserves to lose his platform for spreading hate like that,” said sophomore Zoë Lucas.

These two major controversies caused a domino effect of huge companies to end their collaborations with West.  His booking agency, Create Arts Agency (CAA), is no longer representing him, and his former agency, United Talent Agency (UTA), a rival of CAA, is speaking out against him.  MRC Entertainment has also decided to not just halt the work for their documentary on West, but completely scrap the project in an effort to no longer give him a platform to spread his hateful words.  

Balenciaga took steps in stopping their work with West by pulling out of the clothing line they worked on with him from July, deciding not to collaborate in musical performances such as the “Donda 2” listening event, and removing pictures of him from their website.  Lawyer Camille Vasquez, a partner in Brown Rudnick who became well known for defending Johnny Depp in his defamation trial against Amber Heard, has also made the decision not to work with West.  Def Jam Recordings and his label, G.O.O.D. Music, have no longer affiliated themselves with West either.  

Furthermore, West’s successful and lucrative partnership with Adidas has been terminated after nine years.  The deal was put under review after his scandalous appearance at Paris Fashion week, and the decision to cut ties with the artist became official on Oct. 25, after being under intense pressure from the public for weeks.  Adidas hauled all of Yeezy brand’s productions and payments to West.  This decision will cost the company $250 million.  

“Kanye’s actions have become more and more questionable over the years, but I never thought it would become so serious to the point where he would lose so much money over it,” said sophomore Sloane Silverstein.

Another company, The Gap, which has also sold Yeezy products in store and online, ended their business with Kanye by removing his products from retail locations and the website.  The first piece from the line that they ever sold was a $200 jacket, which sold out instantaneously.  This perfectly exemplifies how this is a financial sacrifice for the company to be ending their partnership only two years into a ten-year contract.  The Gap’s reasoning for this decision was due to “substantial noncompliance.”  Foot Locker soon followed and made the executive choice to not support any future releases from the Yeezy company, and pulled all of its products from retail stores.  

West also has had a messy history with JP Morgan Chase bank, as he formerly criticized its leaders online despite putting $140 million into their bank.  The public found out about this through Candace Owens tweeting a photo of the letter to West announcing they would end their relationship with him.  In this letter, the corporation informed him that he would have until Nov. 21 to move his assets.  

On Oct. 10, Kanye released a thirty-minute documentary, LAST WEEK, on YouTube.  It follows him around and features him attending a basketball game for his daughter North West, and visiting prospective campuses for Donda Academy, his own private school.  Ye even talks about his plans for a Donda University and how he wants to expand nationwide.  The part of this documentary which brought a ton of media attention to Kanye was a meeting with two Adidas executives where he forces them to watch an inappropriate video on his phone and makes tasteless and unprofessional comments.  He then proceeded to accuse the company of stealing his ideas.  

In recent months, Kanye West has gone from being an edgy artist who sometimes pushes boundaries, to a rampaging and offensive tornado of an internet presence, leaving behind countless destroyed business deals in his path.  His incredibly large fan base is decreasing daily, as they are having trouble supporting and defending someone who is bringing so much harm upon innocent people with his words.  Online, many are even worried about him because by their logic, someone mentally healthy would not be falling off the rails so aggressively like West seems to be.  

Art is supposed to test limits, but why does Kanye West’s art always seem to be at the expense of undeserving people?