Several people once close to the artist formerly known as Kanye West told CNN that he has long been fascinated by Adolf Hitler – and once wanted to name an album after the Nazi leader.
A business executive who worked for West, who now goes by Ye, told CNN that the artist created a hostile work environment, in part through his “obsession” with Hitler.
“He would praise Hitler saying how incredible it was that he could amass so much power and would talk about all the great things he and the Nazi Party accomplished for the German people,” the person told CNN.
The executive resigned from his position and settled with West and several of his companies over workplace complaints, including harassment, reviewed by CNN. The former executive asked not to be named due to a confidentiality agreement and fear of retaliation from West. According to the agreement, West denied the manager’s allegations.
The executive told CNN that West spoke openly about reading “Mein Kampf,” Hitler’s 1925 autobiographical manifesto, and expressed his “admiration” of the Nazis and Hitler for their use of propaganda.
This person said people in West’s inner circle were “fully aware” of his interest in Hitler. Four sources told CNN that West originally suggested the title “Hitler” for his 2018 album, which was eventually released as “Ye.” They did not want to be named, citing concerns about professional penalties.
CNN has reached out to West for comment.
Universal Music Group, the owner of Def Jam, which used to distribute West’s music, said in a statement to CNN on 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 very committed to fighting anti-Semitism and any other form of prejudice,” the Universal Music group added.
Sources CNN spoke to did not have details on why the album ended up being called “Ye.”
Former TMZ employee Van Lathan Jr., who confronted West during his 2018 interview at their offices in which West said slavery “sounds like a choice,” recently claimed on a podcast that West also made anti-Semitic comments during their conversation that the sale did. not publicly released. Therefore, Lathan said that his comments did not surprise him.
“I heard him say that before on TMZ,” Lathan said on the “Higher Learning” podcast earlier this month. “I mean, I was surprised because this kind of anti-Semitism is disgusting. It’s like I’m surprised every time someone does that, right? But so far [West], I knew it was in him because when he came to TMZ he said this and they took it out of the interview. … He said something like, ‘I love Hitler, I love the Nazis.’ Something along those lines when he was there. And they took it out of the interview for whatever reason. It was not my decision.”
One of the sources who spoke to CNN and was interviewed by TMZ said that West made a good reference to Hitler.
CNN has reached out to TMZ for comment.
The revelation of West’s alleged history of admiring Hitler comes amid a wave of inflammatory actions by West that began earlier this month. He wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt to his Yeezy fashion show in Paris on Oct. 3 and dressed several black models in clothes with the phrase, considered a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). He then posted a private conversation on Instagram between himself and Sean “Diddy” Combs in which he claimed Combs was “controlled by Jews.” He followed that up with a tweet saying he was going to “kill thugs 3 Jews,” which led to Twitter locking his account.
West’s offensive rhetoric in recent weeks has led to a professional downfall 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 hate speech of any kind” and said West’s recent comments violated the company’s “values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
Balenciaga also cut ties with West, as well as talent agency CAA. Production company MRC announced that they were shelving a documentary about West, and GAP announced that the company would remove Yeezy Gap merchandise from its stores and shut down the YeezyGap.com website.
In an Instagram post on Thursday captioned “LOVE ADVICE,” West appeared to refer to a broken business relationship, writing in part, “I LOST 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN ONE DAY AND I’M STILL ALIVE.
West was referenced in banners raised by anti-Semitic protesters in Los Angeles last weekend. His comments have been condemned by the American Jewish Committee and the ADL, as well as numerous political leaders and celebrities, including his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.