Jul 2, 2024 4 min read

Kanye West and henchman Milo Yiannopoulos hit with accusations alleging racism, fraud and more

Earlier this year Kanye West partnered with a team of developers around the world to work on creating his own streaming app. Now some of those developers have gone legal accusing the rapper of discrimination, fraud and failing to safeguard minors on the team from pornographic content

Kanye West and henchman Milo Yiannopoulos hit with accusations alleging racism, fraud and more

Kanye West is facing another lawsuit filed by employees of yet another of his businesses. This time the legal action has been instigated by a team of people who were involved in developing a streaming app to be launched alongside the rapper’s delayed new album ‘Vultures 2’. 

They accuse West and his Yeezy business of discrimination and fraud, overseeing a hostile work environment, and failing to pay their employees. Also named in the lawsuit is the rapper’s former Chief Of Staff, right wing political provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos

Yiannopoulos is no stranger to controversy. After being sued by employees of his failed London-based technology blog The Kernel over unpaid wages, Yiannopoulos left the UK and became an alt-right figurehead. 

He then became an editor at Brietbart News, under executive chair Steve Bannon, who recently began a four month prison sentence for defying congressional subpoenas relating to the investigations surrounding the US Jan 6 insurrection. 

Yiannopolous was forced to leave that role after making comments that appeared to endorse paedophilia. That also cost him a high profile book deal, which saw him threaten to sue publisher Simon & Schuster, before losing his legal representation and ultimately withdrawing his lawsuit

The new litigation against West and Yiannopoulos alleges that team members working on the streaming app - which included a number of people under the age of eighteen - were “mocked for their skin colour, national origin and ethnicity”. It’s also claimed that minors were exposed to pornographic images after West announced he was also planning to launch a porn service. 

Yiannopoulos was scathing about the lawsuit yesterday, hitting out in particular at one of the people making the allegations, Shemar DaCosta, who he described as a “tragic, desperate, attention-seeking wannabe Yeezy staffer”. It’s DaCosta, he wrote on X, who was “behind this egregious and repulsive pack of lies”. 

The lawsuit also accuses West’s wife Bianca Censori of sending a folder of hardcore pornography to one team member in connection to the planned Yeezy Porn service. 

Yiannopoulos also hits back at that claim. Alleging that DaCosta had “faked an entire job history at Yeezy on his LinkedIn profile”, he added - in comments strongly reminiscent of emails he sent to writers at The Kernel more than a decade ago - “he will never, ever, ever land a job at the company after telling such odious lies about the Lady Of The House”. 

According to the lawsuit, the team working on what was known as the YZYVSN app came together organically online after West started talking about launching his own streaming service for the release of ‘Vultures 2’, so that he wouldn't have to work with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. 

Two groups of developers approached West and his Yeezy company about building the app. By late March, reps for the rapper were talking to the developers about making the venture official and merging the two interested groups.  

Things were formalised by April, with Yiannopoulos allegedly telling the team that West’s company would pay $120,000 to acquire the YZYVSN app once it was completed. 

At that point about 40 developers, designers and marketers from various countries were involved in developing the app, including some aged between fourteen and eighteen. Some of the team members were also subsequently offered salaried jobs. 

In mid-April, West declared in an interview that ‘Vultures 2’ would be released on 3 May. The team working on the YZYVSN app then came under significant pressure to have the app ready to launch two days before the planned release. That resulted in team members having to work long hours, with those in timezones in Europe and the Middle East having to work overnight so that they could attend meetings during US office hours. 

“Many members of the app development team, including minors, were required to work long hours without pay, which required them to sacrifice school and personal time”, the lawsuit claims. That hard work, however, meant the YZYVSN app was delivered on 1 May. After which, the release of ‘Vultures 2’ was postponed. 

The operation was coordinated via Discord, which is where West, Yiannopoulos and their Yeezy colleagues are accused of creating a hostile working environment. “Development group chats on the Discord messaging service were filled with harassment regarding age, race, gender, sexual orientation and national origin/ethnicity”, the lawsuit claims. 

Once the Yeezy Porn project was also instigated, the lawsuit goes on, “pictures of pornography related to Yeezy Porn were openly disseminated on the Discord channel. No guardrails were put in place to prevent the underaged YZYVSN workers from working on Yeezy Porn, or to prevent them from being exposed to and being forced to view pornography to perform their work”.

After the YZYVSN app had been finished, a dispute then began over payment. On 13 May, a lead developer told the rest of the team that “Yiannopoulos had misled everyone regarding whether they would be paid for their work and the promises of continued work”. A promise of payment the following day was not met, and work on the lawsuit began. 

Eight team members are involved in the litigation including four under the age of eighteen. 

West has been criticised by a number of his ex-employees. Various lawsuits have been filed by former workers at his school in California, the Donda Academy. Meanwhile, following the collapse of the rapper’s partnership with Adidas around the Yeezy fashion brand, a New York Times investigation claimed that people working on that partnership had to tolerate years of offensive and erratic behaviour.

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