In recent weeks, one business after another has cut ties with Kanye West over the rapper's series of antisemitic comments. Here is a complete timeline of the controversy and the ongoing fallout:
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, first draws backlash in October 2022 after wearing a controversial "White Lives Matter" shirt during a Paris Fashion Week show. The Anti-Defamation League describes "White Lives Matter" as a "white supremacist phrase" and a "racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement."
"It's a dangerously dumb message to send for someone with his massive platform," The Atlantic writer Jemele Hill tweets. Ye draws support from controversial conservative commentator Candace Owens, who also wears a "White Lives Matter" shirt.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Amid the ongoing controversy, Adidas announces it has placed its partnership with West "under review."
Ye appears on Tucker Carlson Tonight and defends wearing his "White Lives Matter" shirt, telling the Fox News host he "thought the idea of me wearing it was funny" and that he drew from his "gut instinct, a connection with God, and just brilliance." He added, "The answer to why I wrote 'White Lives Matter' on a shirt is because they do. It's the obvious thing."
Oct. 7 and Oct. 8
After having his Instagram account restricted as a result, Ye subsequently returns to Twitter and slams Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, tweeting, "How you gone kick me off instagram."
But later that night, Ye tweets, "I'm a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I'm going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE," claiming, "I actually can't be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda."
Elon Musk, who did not yet officially own Twitter, says he talked to Ye and "expressed my concerns about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart."
A report from Vice News reveals Ye expressed "numerous antisemitic sentiments" in his Tucker Carlson interview that were cut from the broadcast, as well as other bizarre statements, including that "professional actors" were "placed into my house to sexualize my kids."
Ye appears for a more than three-hour interview on the Drink Champs podcast and makes more antisemitic comments, talking about "Jewish business secrets" and "Jewish Zionists" while claiming "Jewish people have owned the Black voice." He expresses confidence that Adidas will not end its business relationship with him.
"I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can't drop me," he asserts.
Ye also falsely claims in the interview that George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in 2020, actually died from fentanyl, even though Derek Chauvin was convicted of his murder. "If you look, the guy's knee wasn't even on his neck like that," Ye says. The podcast is later removed.
Ye announces he is purchasing Parler, the conservative social media platform popular on the right and especially among supporters of former President Donald Trump. The company's CEO is also Candace Owens' husband.
That same day, Ye speaks with former CNN host Chris Cuomo in a contentious interview, in which the rapper says he doesn't "believe" in the term antisemitism and claims he is being attacked by the "Jewish underground media mafia." Cuomo repeatedly condemns Ye during in the interview, telling him his comments are "ugly," "inherently antisemitic," and "damaging to decency."
George Floyd's family begins preparing to sue Ye for $250 million for the "blatantly false" and "malicious" claims about his death made during the Drink Champs podcast. "George Floyd's daughter is being retraumatized by Kanye West's comments and he's creating an unsafe and unhealthy environment for her," attorney Nuru Witherspoon says.
A spokesperson for Vogue tells Page Six "that neither the magazine nor its editor-in-chief Anna Wintour intend to work with Kanye West again," and the fashion house Balenciaga's parent company says it "has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to" Ye.
Meanwhile, Ye gives a 100-minute interview to Piers Morgan, in which he says he's "absolutely not" sorry for his antisemitic comments.
"Racism is racism, and you know that, I think, don't you?" Morgan asks Ye, who responds, "Yeah, obviously, that's why I said it."
"So you said it knowing it's racist?" Morgan asks, and Ye tells him, "Yes. I fought fire with fire."
An antisemitic hate group reportedly holds banners over a busy Los Angeles freeway, one of which says, "Kanye is right about the Jews." A "number of people raised their arms in a Nazi salute" while standing behind the banners, NBC News reports.
Political leaders condemn the group's actions, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who tweets, "Hate speech opens the door to hateful action. This weekend's antisemitic protests in L.A. were disgusting and cannot be normalized or brushed aside. Words matter, and in California we'll always speak out against racial, ethnic, and religious hate when it rears its ugly head."
In an interview published Oct. 24, Ye speaks with MIT research scientist Lex Fridman and makes more antisemitic statements, slamming "Jewish record labels" and saying, "A Jewish friend of mine said, 'Go visit the Holocaust Museum,' and my response was, let's visit our Holocaust Museum: Planned Parenthood."
Ye's ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, shares a statement on social media saying, "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." However, she does not mention Ye in the post. Kardashian's sisters, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie, and their mother Kris Jenner, also share statements in support of the Jewish community.
That same day, the Hollywood talent agency CAA confirms it has stopped representing Ye, and a completed documentary about him from MRC is shelved, Variety reports. "We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform," MRC studio executives say.
Also on Oct. 24, TMZ reports that Camille Vasquez, the attorney who represented Johnny Depp during the Amber Heard defamation trial, will no longer be working with Ye, just days after the outlet reported Ye hired her. Vasquez's law firm "attempted to work with Kanye, but only under the condition he publicly retract his hateful and antisemitic words," TMZ reports. Ye reportedly "refused to do so, and fired" the firm.
Adidas announces it has "immediately" ended its business relationship with Ye because of his antisemitic comments.
"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company says. "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."
Adidas estimates that this decision will "have a short-term negative impact of up to" $246 million on its net income in 2022.
"In September, Gap announced ending its Yeezy Gap partnership," Gap says. "Our former partner's recent remarks and behavior further underscore why. … Antisemitism, racism, and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values."
Additionally, the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown announces he is "terminating my association with" Ye's marketing agency Donda Sports. The Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald also decides to "part ways with Donda Sports" due to Ye's "recent comments and displays of hate and antisemitism." Peloton also announces it won't use any of Ye's music in "newly produced classes."
As the fallout continues, Forbes reports that as a result of Adidas ending its relationship with Ye, the rapper is no longer a billionaire. The deal with Adidas accounted "for $1.5 billion of his net worth," Forbes says, so his net worth has dropped to $400 million.
Skechers releases a statement revealing Ye "showed up unannounced and uninvited" to one of its corporate offices in Los Angeles.
"Considering Ye was engaged in unauthorized filming, two Skechers executives escorted him and his party from the building after a brief conversation," the company says. "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." Commentators assume Ye's visit was about trying to secure a new home for his Yeezy shoes after the end of the Adidas deal, though Skechers doesn't provide further details.
But Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tells Reuters that while the rapper's comments were "just awful," his music won't be removed. "His music doesn't violate our policy," Ek says. "It's up to his label, if they want to take action or not."
Parents of students at Donda Academy, Ye's private school, receive an email from the principal stating that "at the discretion of our founder, Donda Academy will close for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year effective immediately," TMZ reports.
However, just hours later, an email reportedly goes out saying the school isn't closing after all and that "with the help of our parents and community, we are back and returning with a vengeance!" But TMZ says the school "may be shut down for good" because Ye's antisemitic comments "triggered the departure of a growing number of teachers and staff."
Additionally, a report from CNN emerges alleging that Ye "has long been fascinated by Adolf Hitler" and even wanted to name his 2018 album after Hitler before changing the name to Ye. "He would praise Hitler by saying how incredible it was that he was able to accumulate so much power and would talk about all the great things he and the Nazi Party achieved for the German people," a business executive who worked with Ye told CNN. This lined up with a previous claim from former TMZ employee Van Lathan, who alleged on his Higher Learning podcast that he heard Ye saying he "loved Hitler and the Nazis" in 2018.
Ye soon returns to Instagram and claims he "lost 2 billion dollars in one day," adding, "This is love speech."
Speaking to the paparazzi, Ye apologizes for his comments about George Floyd's death, but in the process, he controversially compares himself to Floyd.
"When I said that, and I questioned the death of George Floyd, it hurt my people," he says. "It hurt the Black people. So I want to apologize for hurting them because right now, God has shown me, by what Adidas is doing and by what the media is doing, I know how it feels to have a knee on my neck now."
But Ye once again doubles down on his antisemitic comments while speaking with the paparazzi, reading off a list of companies with Jewish executives. "If you look at the definition of defcon, it means to get extra defense, which obviously I must have needed," he says. He also claims a "Jewish doctor" misdiagnosed him with "having a disorder that would have had me on medication right now."
Page Six reports that Ye "could face financial crisis within months" because he has "five sources of income" and "four of them have been either completely shut down or badly compromised," including his deals with Adidas and Gap.
Despite this, Ye continues making antisemitic comments. After returning to Instagram, he posts a screenshot of a text exchange with Russell Simmons, saying he's "gotta get the Jewish business people to make the contracts fair." He also shares a graphic photo of Emmett Till and rants against Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, who had called for businesses to boycott Ye.
"You tried to bankrupt adidas and me at the same time … Now eeeeveryone knows how much power you 'Business' people actually have," Ye writes. He subsequently says on Parler he has been "kicked off Instagram for 30 days."
NBC News reports that Ye settled with a former employee who alleged he "praised Hitler or Nazis in business meetings," an allegation the rapper denied.
The report also says that six sources who have either worked with Ye or witnessed him in professional environments during the past five years have "heard him mention conspiracy theories about Jewish people or praise Hitler." One former employee alleges he said Hitler "had some good qualities" and "wasn't all bad" in 2018.
"I feel like he was just kind of like looking around, like seeing like, how are people reacting?" a former employee tells NBC. "He would say 'I even love Hitler' and then he would like pause for reactions."
Three sources also tell the outlet that Ye went on an antisemitic rant at the TMZ offices in 2018, supporting Van Lathan's claim that he praised Hitler but that this footage was cut from the interview. A former TMZ employee tells NBC that founder Harvey Levin "came back into the edit bay and said, cut out anything related to Jews, to that type of antisemitism."
Ye returns to Twitter and posts an image of Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets player who had been facing criticism for promoting an antisemitic movie. Prior to Ye's tweet, Irving said he was "aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility" and announced he would donate $500,000 to "causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities." Ye's tweet did not contain any text, though he previously shared a picture of Irving on Instagram with the caption, "There's some real ones still here."
Ye compares the term antisemitic to the N-word in a tweet, which is taken down.
Comedian Dave Chappelle hosts Saturday Night Live and delivers a monologue about Ye's antisemitism backlash, only to draw backlash himself. "If they're Black, then it's a gang," Chappelle jokes. "If they're Italian, it's a mob. But if they're Jewish, it's a coincidence and you should never speak about it."
In response, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweets, "We shouldn't expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society's moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?"
Ye is spotted with alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. In a video shared by X17 Online, the rapper claims he will run for president again in 2024 and that Yiannopoulos is working on his campaign.
That same day, Ye again returns to Twitter, "testing" to see "if my Twitter is unblocked" before tweeting, "Shalom." The tweet is "liked" by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who also tweets at the rapper, "Don't kill what ye hate Save what ye love."
A report from Rolling Stone cites former Yeezy and Adidas employees who allege the rapper "used intimidation tactics with the staff of his fashion empire that were provocative, frequently sexualized, and often directed toward women," including showing pornography in business meetings and even explicit images of his wife, Kim Kardashian.
Reports later reveal Ye attended a Nov. 22 dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former President Donald Trump and white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, sparking heavy criticism of the former president. "Bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including at Mar-A-Lago," White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates says.
In a statement, Trump says Ye "very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago" and their dinner "was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about."
Meanwhile, Ye posts a series of strange videos on social media about his meeting with Trump, including one where he says the former president was "perturbed" when he asked him "to be my vice president."
Ye also claims Trump was "really impressed" with Fuentes and that the former president "started basically screaming at me at the table, telling me I was gonna lose," and insulted his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian. "I was like, hold on, hold on, hold on, Trump," he says. "You're talking to Ye."
Adidas says it will launch an investigation following Rolling Stone's report that Ye played pornography to staffers.
"We take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations," a spokesperson tells Rolling Stone.
In a new statement, Trump claims he met with Ye to "help" a "seriously troubled man, who happens to be Black," because he has "been decimated in his business and virtually everything else."
Ye is interviewed by podcaster Tim Pool but storms out only 20 minutes in after the host pushes back somewhat on the rapper's antisemitic comments.
"I think they've been extremely unfair to you," Pool says, leading Ye to ask, "Who is they, though?" When Pool declines to identify "they" as Jewish people, Ye immediately storms off the set.
Ye appears on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' show and repeatedly makes shocking antisemitic statements, including denying the Holocaust and openly praising Adolf Hitler.
"I like Hitler," Ye says. "I'm not trying to be shocking. I like Hitler. The Holocaust is not what happened, let's look at the facts of that, and Hitler has a lot of redeeming qualities."
Ye also tells Jones that he loves Nazis, who "did good things too," and that "every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler." Jones appears taken aback by Ye's open praise of Hitler, asking him if he's trolling, but the rapper reiterates he believes that Hitler "seems like a cool guy" and falsely claims he "didn't kill six million Jews."
Ye faces widespread backlash for the interview, which is seen as a significant escalation of his prior antisemitic rhetoric and also appears to confirm earlier reports that he has privately expressed admiration of Hitler. The Republican Jewish Coalition condemns the "horrific cesspool of dangerous, bigoted Jew hatred" and calls the rapper a "vile, repellent bigot." The comments also prompt the GOP House Judiciary Committee to delete an Oct. 6 tweet that simply said, "Kanye. Elon. Trump."
Later that evening, Ye tweets an image combining a Jewish Star of David with a swastika, leading him to be suspended from the platform. "I tried my best," Musk tweets. "Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended."
Parler also confirms that Ye is no longer buying the social media platform. "The company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler," the company says. "This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November."
Backlash to Ye's pro-Hitler statements continue with President Biden weighing in. The president tweets, "I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity."
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.