Kanye West’s Longtime Label Universal Music & Publisher Sony Denounce Antisemitic Comments
Kanye West‘s former record label and music publisher have joined a chorus of companies in denouncing antisemitic rhetoric following a rash of recent statements made by the rapper.
Though Universal Music Group (UMG) — which worked with West for many years via Def Jam and its merchandise company Bravado — and Sony Music Publishing (SMP), which administers West’s song catalog, no longer work with the rapper now known as Ye, both have taken a public stand against his recent antisemitic comments in statements sent to Billboard.
A spokesperson for UMG clarified that “Def Jam’s relationship with Ye as a recording artist, Def Jam’s partnership with the GOOD Music label venture and Ye’s merchandise agreement with Bravado all ended in 2021.” The company owns the copyright on his recordings up to 2016 and distributed his recordings until last year. The spokesperson continued, “There is no place for antisemitism in our society. We are deeply committed to combating antisemitism and every other form of prejudice.”
SMP has been the administrator for West’s extensive catalog of musical works for years but the rapper’s publishing administration deal expired in early 2022. In an internal memo to employees last week, Sony leadership assured their staff that “at Sony Music Group, commitment to tolerance, inclusion and equality for all are at the heart of who we are as a company. Consistent with these values, we denounce antisemitism. Through our partnership with the UJA Federation, we work to combat prejudice against the Jewish community.”
Pursuant to the old agreement, SMP will continue to administer West’s musical works for an undisclosed period of time. Because SMP’s dealings with West were purely administrative and did not include ownership, after this period ends the company will no longer have any interests in his catalog.
West’s former manager, Scooter Braun, who is Jewish, posted a graphic today on Instagram, seemingly in response to his former client’s recent statements. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — there was no one left to speak for me,” the post read.
UMG and Braun’s responses follow West’s three-hour interview with MIT scientist Lex Fridman on Tuesday in which the rapper said, “It’s genocide and population control that Black people are in today in America, that is promoted by the music and the media that Black people make, that Jewish record labels get paid off of.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Adidas announced that it had ended its partnership with the Yeezy designer and rapper over his offensive remarks — a decision that the German sportswear brand said will affect its bottom line significantly — after celebrities and others on social media urged the brand to join the many other companies in fully cutting ties with West. As a result of being dropped from Adidas, West has lost his billionaire status, according to Forbes.
In a now-removed episode of the Drink Champs podcast, West told interviewer N.O.R.E., “the thing about it being Adidas is, like, I can literally say antisemitic s–t and they can’t drop me … I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?”
The hateful and discriminatory rhetoric West voiced on Drink Champs followed a number of other concerning statements from the rapper in recent weeks. On Oct. 3, the rapper wore a White Lives Matter shirt to his Yeezy Paris Fashion Week show. Just days later on the evening of Oct. 8, he sent out a tweet saying he wished to go “death con 3” on Jewish people, which was subsequently removed by Twitter. West is currently suspended from Twitter and Instagram for antisemitic posts that the social networks both said violated their policies.
Over the weekend, a group of demonstrators, inspired by West’s antisemitic remarks, unfurled a banner on a Los Angeles overpass that read “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
Other business partners of West’s have also dropped him in recent weeks, including Creative Artists Agency, MRC, Balenciaga and JPMorganChase, though the latter relationship was severed prior to the rapper’s antisemitic outbursts. On Tuesday, Gap said it was taking immediate action to remove all West-related products from shelves a month after the rapper severed his relationship with the retailer.