Several people who were close to the artist formerly known as Kanye West told CNN that he had long been fascinated by Adolf Hitler – and once wanted to name an album after the Nazi leader.
One executive who worked at West, who now goes to Ye, told CNN that the artist created a hostile work environment, in part through his “obsession” with Hitler.
“He was complimenting Hitler by saying how amazing he was that he was able to accumulate so much strength and he would talk about all the great things that he and the Nazi Party achieved for the German people,” this person told CNN.
The executive left his post and reached a settlement with West and some of his companies over workplace complaints, including harassment, which CNN reviewed. The former CEO requested anonymity due to the confidentiality agreement and fear of retaliation from the West. According to the agreement, West denied the executive’s allegations.
The CNN executive said West spoke candidly about reading “Mein Kampf,” Hitler’s 1925 biographical manifesto, and expressed his “admiration” for the Nazis and Hitler for their use of propaganda.
This person stated that people in the inner circle of the West were “fully aware” of his interest in Hitler. Four sources told CNN that West had originally suggested the title “Hitler” for his 2018 album, which was eventually released as “Ye.” They did not want to reveal their names, citing concern about professional reprisals.
CNN has reached out to West for comment.
Universal Music Group, owner of Def Jam, which has been distributing West’s music, said in a statement to CNN Tuesday that the company’s relationship with his Good Music label ended last year.
There is no place for anti-Semitism in our society. “We are deeply committed to combating anti-Semitism and all other forms of prejudice,” Universal Music Group added.
The sources CNN spoke to had no information on why the album was eventually called “Ye.”
Van Lathan Jr., a former employee of TMZ, confronted West during his 2018 interview in their offices where West said slavery “seems like an option,” recently claiming in a podcast that West also made anti-Semitic comments during their conversation that the outlet did not release in public. That’s why Lathan said his current comments didn’t surprise him.
“I’ve already heard him say these things before at TMZ,” Lathan said during an episode of the “Higher Education” podcast earlier this month. “I mean, I was surprised because that kind of anti-Semitic talk is disgusting. It’s like, I’d be surprised anytime anyone would do that, right? But as far as [West], I knew that was in it because when he came to TMZ, he said those things and they took her out of the interview. …he said something like, “I love Hitler, I love the Nazis.” Something to that effect when he was there. And they took her out of the interview for whatever reason. It wasn’t my decision.”
One of the sources who spoke to CNN and was in the TMZ interview said that the West referred favorably to Hitler.
CNN has reached out to TMZ for comment.
The revelation of the West’s alleged history of admiring Hitler comes amid a wave of inflammatory actions by the West that began earlier this month. The “White Lives Matter” T-shirt was worn during the Yeezy fashion show in Paris on October 3, and several black models wore the phrase, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) deemed a hateful slogan. He then posted a private Instagram text conversation between himself and Sean “Diddy” Combs in which he claimed Combs was “controlled by the Jewish people.” He followed this up with a tweet in which he said he was going to “death 3 to the Jewish people,” which led to Twitter shutting down his account.
West’s aggressive rhetoric in the past few weeks has led to professional repercussions for the rapper and designer. On Tuesday, adidas ended its seven-year partnership with West, calling his recent actions “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous.”
In a statement, the sportswear maker said it “does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other type of hate speech” and said West’s recent comments violate “the company’s values of diversity, inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
Balenciaga also severed ties with West, as well as the talent agency CAA. Production company MRC stated that it was pinning a documentary on West, and GAP announced that the company would remove Yeezy Gap products from its stores and shut down YeezyGap.com.
In an Instagram post on Thursday titled “LOVE SPEECH,” West appeared to be referring to the severed business ties, writing in part, “I lost $2 billion in one day and I’m still alive.”
West was mentioned in the banners raised by antisemitic protesters in Los Angeles last weekend. His comments were condemned by the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as by his ex-wife Kim Kardashian.
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