Several people 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, now Ye Yana, told CNN that the artist created a hostile work environment through his “obsession” with Hitler.
“He would praise Hitler saying how incredible it was that he was able to amass so much power and talk about all the great things he and the Nazi Party had accomplished for the German people,” the person told CNN.
The executive left his position and settled with West and some of his companies over workplace complaints, including harassment, that CNN has reviewed. The former executive asked not to be named due to a confidentiality agreement and fear of Western retaliation. According to the agreement, West denied the executive’s allegations.
The executive told CNN that West spoke openly about reading Hitler’s 1925 autobiographical publication, “Mein Kampf,” and expressed his “admiration” for the Nazis and Hitler for their use of propaganda.
This person stated that people in the West’s inner circle were “fully aware” of his interest in Hitler. Four sources told CNN that West originally proposed the title “Hitler” for his 2018 album, which was eventually released as “Ye.” They declined to be named out of concern for professional reprisals.
CNN has reached out to West for comment.
Universal Music Group, owner of Def Jam, which used to distribute Western music, told CNN in a statement Tuesday that the company’s relationship with its GOOD Music label ended last year.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in our society. We are deeply committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all other forms of prejudice,” added Universal Music Group.
Sources who spoke to CNN did not have information on why the album was eventually called “Ye.”
Van Lathan Jr., a former TMZ employee who confronted West at their offices in his 2018 interview, said in a recent podcast that West’s slavery “seems like a choice,” adding that West also made anti-Semitic comments during their conversation. Not released publicly. That’s why Lathan said his current comments didn’t surprise him.
“I already heard him say those things on TMZ before,” Lathan said during an episode of the “Higher Learning” podcast earlier this month. “I mean, I was surprised because that kind of anti-Semitic talk is disgusting. It’s like I’d be stunned if someone did that, right? But far [West], I knew he had it in him because when he came to TMZ and said those things, they took it out of the interview. … He said something like, ‘I love Hitler, I love the Nazis.’ Something like that when he was there. They left it out of the interview for some reason. It’s not my decision.”
One source, who spoke to CNN and was interviewed by TMZ, said West was favorably disposed to Hitler.
CNN has reached out to TMZ for comment.
The revelation of the West’s alleged admiration for Hitler comes amid a wave of inflammatory actions by the West that began earlier this month. During his Yeezy fashion show in Paris on Oct. 3, he wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt, and several black models wore the phrase, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) deemed a hate slogan. He then posted a short private conversation between himself and Sean “Diddy” Combs on Instagram, in which he claimed that Combs was “controlled by Jewish people”. He followed that up with a tweet saying “3 deaths to Jewish people”, resulting in Twitter locking his account.
West’s offensive rhetoric over the past few weeks has resulted in a career slump for the rapper and designer. On Tuesday, Adidas ended its seven-year partnership with West, calling his recent actions “unacceptable, malicious and dangerous.”
In a statement, the sportswear maker said it “does not tolerate anti-war and other forms of hate speech” 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 did talent agency CAA. Manufacturing company MRC announced it was canceling a documentary about West, and GAP announced it would remove Yeezy Gap merchandise from its stores and shut down the YeezyGap.com website.
West appeared to refer to the estranged business relationship in an Instagram post Thursday with the caption, “Love Story,” saying, “I lost $2 billion in one day and I’m still alive.”
Banners carried by anti-Semitic demonstrators in Los Angeles last weekend mentioned the West. His comments have been condemned by the American Jewish Committee and the ADL, and by many political leaders and celebrities, including his ex-wife Kim Kardashian.