Representatives for Kanye West have confirmed that, despite earlier reports saying otherwise, profits from merch sold at his and Drake’s recent ‘Free Larry Hoover’ benefit concert will be funnelled into charities supporting legal reform efforts and community advocacy.
It was live-streamed for free via Amazon Prime and shown at select IMAX cinemas across the US, with a portion of proceeds earned from the event’s direct ticket sales routed to a selection of criminal justice reform groups.
Sold at the event – and on Amazon – was a variety of clothing items emblazoned with “FREE HOOVER”. The range, which included items “engineered by Balenciaga”, featured a hoodie, t-shirt, jumpsuit, jeans and a hat, each with the aforementioned slogan emblazoned on them. Prices ranged from $60 (£45) to $360 (£271), with a range of the merchandise still available to purchase here.
Over the weekend, it was reported that proceeds generated by those merch sales would not contribute to the event’s philanthropic aims. GQ stated that a representative for Amazon confirmed as much, though a spokesperson for West’s brand Yeezy (which coordinated the launch of the merch capsule) has now debunked those claims.
“The show merch (both sold at the venue and via Amazon) has always been considered as another component of the larger benefit,” the spokesperson told NME, “and is being treated the exact same way with a portion of proceeds directed to supporting legal reform and community advocates including Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, Hustle 2.0 and Uptown People’s Law Center.”
Larry Hoover, 71, was convicted of ordering the killing of a 19-year-old drug dealer in 1973 and was given a sentence of 150-200 years. He co-founded the Chicago gang Gangster Disciples and was the group’s leader until 1995. In 1997, he was given a further six life sentences for federal drug conspiracy, extortion and continuing to engage in a criminal enterprise.
Hoover has unsuccessfully appealed to be released from prison or moved to a lower security institution. His supporters claim he has been kept in “severe isolation”, including being kept in solitary confinement for as long as 24 hours a day.
West previously tried to get Donald Trump to pardon Hoover in 2018. Larry Hoover Jr, who appeared on ‘DONDA’, said the benefit concert would spread his father’s “plea for redemption worldwide and show that we are truly stronger together on behalf of any and everyone with a loved one wrongly or unjustly incarcerated”.
In a five-star review of West and Drake’s ‘Free Larry Hoover’ benefit concert, NME said: “Tonight it turns out that you don’t need to have faith in anything other than the power of two talents at the top of their respective games to have a near-religious experience. Here’s to making up with your enemies.”