Kanye West has once again spoken out about his current string of controversies, offering somewhat of an apology for his incendiary comments on the death of George Floyd while continuing to defend his recent displays of antisemitism.
On Friday night (October 28), West was approached by a group of paparazzi, one of whom noted to the rapper that “antisemitic statements are never really good for anybody”. Addressing that statement, West responded: “I didn’t realise that I could be considered antisemitic until I read one of the definitions of antisemitism… I didn’t realise that it was antisemitic to say, ‘Hey, you know, I have a Jewish attorney. I have a Jewish record label. I have a Jewish contractor…'”
West then challenged the notion that he should be “walking back” his antisemitism. Alluding to his support for the conspiracy theory that the Jewish people are in control of the media, he pointed to an infographic that identifies Jewish executives at companies like Disney and MSNBC. Asked if he felt that such executives had “stuck together when they heard” West’s comments, the rapper explained that he’d “had experiences where it felt like [he] was being teamed up on”.
He went on to say that he had met with Adidas executives for a “mediation” earlier in the day. “Adidas felt like, because everyone else was ganging up on me, they had the right to just take my designs,” he said.
Comparing that to the concept of karma, he continued: “I feel like this was God humbling me right now… A lot of times when I would say, ‘Oh, I’m the richest Black man’, it will be a defense that I would use for the mental health conversation – to say, ‘Oh, you guys say I’m crazy, but look at this, I made money’. But that is not Godlike, to be showing off.”
This segued into the topic of West’s recent comments on the death of George Floyd on the Drink Champs podcast, where West made the false claim that Floyd died from from an intake of the drug fentanyl, as opposed to police brutality. The interview was later scrubbed from the web, and host N.O.R.E. expressed “regret” over his complacency in the situation. In its wake, Floyd’s family began preparing a defamation lawsuit against West.
Referring to a video that showed Floyd’s neck being knelt on by officer Derek Chauvin – who last April was found guilty of Floyd’s murder – West told the paparazzi: “When I see that video as Black person, it hurts my feelings. And I know that police do attack, and America is generally racist. And I understand that when we got to say ‘Black Lives Matter’, that the idea of it made us feel good together as a people.
“When the idea of Black Lives Matter came out, it made us come together as a people. Now afterwards, yes, there were some things [with] where the money went, there were some things where it was used in order to push us to the Democratic vote. There were people behind it involved… That happened, but the general feeling… When I said that, and I questioned the death of George Floyd, it hurt my people – it hurt the Black people.
“So, I want to apologise [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. So I thank you, God, for humbling me and letting me know how it really felt. Because how could the richest Black man ever be humbled, other than to be made to not be a billionaire in front of everyone off of one comment?”
Later, West alleged that after he vouched his support for Donald Trump in the late 2010s, a Jewish doctor “misdiagnosed” him with “a disorder that would have had me on medication right now”. He continued: “At a time like this, if I was on medication right now, then one pill could have been swapped out, and it would be Michael Jackson and Prince all over again. But because I didn’t take the misdiagnosis, and I didn’t take the the medication, I’m able to speak to you guys clear of thought, and transparently.”
Have a look at West’s full interview with the paparazzi below:
West’s current ream of controversies stemmed from a stunt at this year’s Paris Fashion Week, where West wore a shirt emblazoned with the white nationalist dogwhistle “White Lives Matter”. He was heavily criticised for the tone-deaf move, leading the rapper to double, triple and quadruple down on his viewpoint. In the process – publicly responding to a call-out from Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs – West made an antisemitic comment on Instagram, after which he was booted from the platform.
He then took to Twitter, where he too made an antisemitic comment and was swiftly banned. His antisemitism was loudly condemned by a slew of celebrities, politicians and organisations, including Jack Antonoff, John Legend, Elon Musk, David Schwimmer, KISS’ Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Howard Stern, Eric André, Nick Cave and his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.
In addition, West was dropped from a sprawling list of his brand endorsements and companies he had ties to. As well as Adidas, these included Gap, Def Jam, JP Morgan Chase, Balenciaga, Foot Locker and TJ Maxx, as well as his lawyer and booking agency. In the wake of his deal with Adidas being axed, West’s net worth reportedly plummeted from $2billion (£1.3billion) to $400million (£348million). West reacted to the fall-out by saying that “the money is not who I am”.
After being kicked off from Instagram and Twitter, it was reported that West made an agreement to purchase “free speech” platform Parler. One mainstream company that refuses to deplatform the rapper is Spotify; CEO Daniel Ek said last week that because West’s music itself doesn’t violate Spotify’s anti-hate policies, it would not be removed from its streaming service. West’s access to Instagram has also been reinstated.
Also this month, it was reported that an episode of LeBron James’ talk show, The Shop, would not air a filmed interview with West after he spouted more antisemitism during the taping. Around the same time, Vice leaked unaired footage from West’s Fox News interview, where he also made racist and antisemitic comments; the station has publicly rescinded its support for the rapper.
In another TV interview, West said he didn’t believe in the term “antisemitism”. Speaking to Piers Morgan (who he referred to as “a Karen”), he said he knew his antisemitic comments were racist, explained why he was “jealous” of Jewish culture, and claimed that Quentin Tarantino stole West’s idea for Django Unchained (which Tarantino has since denied).
West’s comments have also led to real-world cases of abuse against Jewish communities. Earlier this month, for example, neo-Nazi groups in Los Angeles hung a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a freeway.