Kanye West’s record You may feel too late, especially if you’ve been a victim of his dangerous rhetoric and actions for years. As Karen Attiah recently wrote in The Washington Post, “Ye’s open flirtation with anti-Blackness over the past decade has had no significant consequences.”
In recent years, the rapper-turned-designer, whose legal name is now Ye, has suggested that 400 years of chattel slavery was “a choice” and sported the Confederate flag as a fashion statement. He championed people like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly; aligned itself with controversial figures like DaBaby, Marilyn Manson and former President Donald Trump; and spoke out in favor of the MAGA movement at the height of tensions in the country.
None of these acts seemed to threaten his burgeoning sneaker and apparel empire, which made Ye a billionaire, at least on paper. The 45-year-old, who has spoken regularly about his relationship with his late mother, his bipolar disorder and society’s treatment of black Americans, has never been shy about saying what he wants. And he also does what he wants, whether it’s a failed presidential election in 2020 or using Yeezy apparel to spread white supremacist messages.
But this fall, even company employees who had long benefited from Ye’s cultural capital found themselves backed into a corner as their cash cow plunged them into a moral crisis. The first of his business dealings ended in September, when it was announced that Yeezy Gap’s billions-worth 10-year deal was ending after just two years.
In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Ye said he was ready to “go it alone” and outlined his vision for Yeezy stores and Donda campuses across the country, independent of his current staff. According to Insider, its deals with Gap and Adidas were originally scheduled to end in 2030 and 2026.
The Cult of Ye attempted to rationalize the spinoff as part of a master plan for the artist to emancipate himself from his business partners. “Did Kanye just get out of all his LMFAO contracts,” tweeted Canadian rapper 88Camino.
But the reality is that within weeks, the Yeezy empire crumbled, Ye’s fashion affiliations evaporated, and the minority communities have been the target of hate speech and dangerous rhetoric, at the same time as Ye has appeared in multiple interviews on mainstream platforms speaking out against so-called cancel culture and supposed attempts to silence him.
Ye has dared collaborators to divest themselves of their business interests in recent weeks by bragging that his biggest collaborator, Adidas, would not be able to drop him for anti-Semitic comments. And they said bet.
His behavior was to the detriment of his family, friends, and business associates, but whether Ye is indeed canceled remains to be seen. What is clearer is that he is no longer a billionaire by Forbes standards. This is how Ye took a hammer for his mark.