Legal representatives for Kanye West are continuing to target The College Dropout, a Melbourne-based burger shop that, until recently, featured iconography that was heavily inspired by West’s titular 2004 album.
The shop first opened in June of last year, but had been on West’s radar for months beforehand – according to Broadsheet, owner Mark Elkhouri was hit with a cease-and-desist letter in February 2021. He forged ahead with the shop, which featured a logo based on the teddy bear from the cover of ‘The College Dropout’ (known officially as the Dropout Bear), and received a second cease-and-desist letter in June of this year.
In response to the second letter, Elkhouri removed all references to West from the shop’s branding and menu – which previously included a fried chicken burger called the Golddigger, a breakfast burger dubbed Good Morning, and a Cheezus cheeseburger – and introduced a new aesthetic designed by ZION X. Menu items are now named after other famous people who dropped out of college, such as Brad Pitt and Steve Jobs.
As reported by The Age, lawyers for West made a 43-page filing at the Federal Court last Friday (October 21), accusing Elkhouri of “misleading and deceptive conduct”. According to the paper, West remains upset over the use of ‘College Dropout’ as the shop’s name, and silhouettes of the Dropout Bear still being used online. So reads an excerpt from the filing: “Ye has suffered, and will continue to suffer, loss and damage.”
It’s said that West’s lawyers are seeking a permanent injunction that would bar Elkhouri from insinuating in any way that his restaurant or its offerings are sponsored or approved by, or affiliated with, West. They’re also pushing for Elkhouri to withdraw his application to trademark ‘College Dropout Burgers’ in Australia, scrub the shop and its online presence of any references to West, and foot the bill for West’s legal fees.
In a statement published by The Age, Elkhouri said: “I can’t understand what would motivate a major artist to sue a small humble burger restaurant on the other side of the world.”
The news comes amid a ream of West’s recent controversies. Earlier today (October 26), it was announced that Jaylen Brown and Aaron Donald were leaving the rapper’s athletic agency, Donda Sports, just hours after he was dropped by Adidas.
As a result of West having ties severed with the sportswear giant – as well as Def Jam, JP Morgan Chase, Balenciaga and his lawyer and booking agency – West’s net worth has reportedly plummeted from $2billion (£1.3billion) to $400million (£348million).
The 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 and his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.
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.
West was, however, given further airtime on the Drinks Champ podcast, where he made inflammatory comments on the death of George Floyd, hit out at rival Pete Davidson and claimed that Ice Cube influenced his antisemitism (a claim Ice Cube has denied). The interview was later scrubbed from the web, and host N.O.R.E. expressed “regret” over his complacency in the situation. In the wake of that interview, Floyd’s family began preparing a defamation lawsuit against West.
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.
West’s comments have also led to real-world cases of abuse against Jewish communities. Last weekend, for example, neo-Nazi groups in Los Angeles hung a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a freeway.