Oct 30, 2023 2 min read

New York Times investigation put spotlight on Kanye West's years of misconduct during Adidas partnership

The New York Times has investigated Kanye West’s long-term partnership with Adidas, claiming that behind the scenes staff had to tolerate offensive and erratic behaviour long before the rapper’s controversial public statements caused the hugely profitable business alliance to be terminated

New York Times investigation put spotlight on Kanye West's years of misconduct during Adidas partnership

A New York Times investigation into Kanye West's long-term partnership with Adidas alleges years of misconduct on the rapper's part, all of which was tolerated until that flurry of controversial public statements last year made the business alliance untenable.

Among the allegations in the new NYT report are that West "showed a troubling fixation on jews and Hitler", that he "brought pornography and crude comments into the workplace", and that Adidas had to put in place a strategy to help staff deal with the considerable stress caused by interacting with the rapper.

Adidas began working with West in 2013, launching the first trainers under the Adidas Yeezy brand in 2015. The joint venture proved hugely profitable for both parties. However, Adidas ended the partnership in October last year after West made a number of racist and anti-Semitic statements.

The following month Rolling Stone reported on a letter that had been sent by staff to Adidas bosses which pointed out that management at the company had previously been willing to turn a blind eye to their superstar business partner’s bad conduct, forcing employees to tolerate his offensive and unpredictable behaviour.

The sportswear firm subsequently confirmed it was investigating the allegations made in that letter.

Among the claims in the NYT report are that, shortly after the Yeezy partnership had been agreed, West "met with designers at company headquarters in Germany to discuss ideas. He was so offended by their sketches, he drew a swastika on one, shocking employees".

"He later told a Jewish Adidas manager to kiss a portrait of Hitler every day", it goes on. "He informed a member of the company’s executive board that he had paid a seven-figure settlement to one of his own employees who accused him of repeatedly praising Hitler".

"Mr West told Adidas colleagues that he admired Hitler’s command of propaganda", the report also claims. "He also expressed a belief that jews had special powers allowing them to amass money and influence".

Elsewhere the report outlines how West made Adidas employees watch pornography during meetings, and how they were also forced to endure regular "angry, sexually offensive comments".

So stressful was working with West, that the company had a group text chain called the 'Yzy hotline' to specifically address issues involving the rapper.

An HR official was assigned to specifically support those working on Yeezy products, new hires were given access to a meditation app, and staff "regularly gathered for something akin to group therapy".

The report also confirms that, although the Adidas/Yeezy partnership was terminated last year, both the company and the rapper continue to profit from the sale of all the Yeezy stock that had already been produced before the termination.

The sportswear brand has sought to mitigate any controversy that selling that stock might have caused by committing to pay a cut of the profits to charities including the Anti-Defamation League. However, the NYT states, most of the revenue still goes to Adidas, with West receiving his royalties from the sales.

The NYT article follows recent reports that West is seeking a new distribution partner to release a collaborative album with Ty Dolla $ign. That release was originally planned for this month but has seemingly been pushed back. Though Ty Dolla $ign recently promised there would be a "multi-stadium listening event" on 3 Nov.

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