(CNN) — Several people who were close to the rapper who used the name Kanye West told CNN that the artist had long been fascinated by Adolf Hitler. They noted that on some occasion he wanted to name an album after the Nazi leader.
An executive who worked for West told CNN that the singer created a hostile work environment, in part because of his “obsession” with Hitler.
“He was praising Hitler, saying it was unbelievable that he gathered so much strength and talking about all the great things that (Hitler) and the Nazi Party have achieved for the German people,” the man told CNN.
The CEO resigned and settled with West — now called Ye — and some of his companies over work complaints, including harassment, which CNN reviewed. This source requested anonymity due to the confidentiality agreement and fears that the West may retaliate. Under the agreement, West denied the business manager’s allegations.
The CNN executive also said West was open to reading my struggle, Hitler’s biographical statement in 1925. He added that the artist expressed his “admiration” for the Nazis and Hitler for their use of propaganda.
This person claimed that members of the West’s inner circle were “fully aware” of his interest in Hitler. Four sources told CNN that West originally suggested the title “Hitler” for his 2018 album, which was eventually released under the name “Ye.” The sources declined to publish their names, citing fears of professional reprisals.
CNN has reached out to West for comment.
A spokesperson for Universal Music Group, the parent company of former western music company Def Jam, declined to comment.
The sources CNN spoke to had no information as to why the album was eventually called “Yi.”
Van Lathan Jr – the former TMZ employee who confronted West in 2018 when the rapper said in an interview that slavery seemed “a choice” – claimed in a recent podcast that West also made anti-Semitic comments during their conversation. Which the outlet decided not to disclose publicly. Therefore, Lathan said, he was not surprised by the rapper’s current statements.
“I heard him say that before on TMZ,” Lathan said on an episode of the “Higher Education” podcast earlier this month. “I mean, it surprised me because that kind of anti-Semitic rhetoric is disgusting. It’s like, ‘I’m surprised every time someone does that, right?’ But as far as [a West], I knew that was in him because when he came to TMZ, he said those things and they took her out of the interview… He said something like, “I love Hitler, I love Nazis.” Kind of impressed when he was there. And they took him out of the interview for whatever reason. “It was not my decision,” he added.
One of the sources who spoke to CNN and was present at the TMZ interview said that West had already referred favorably to Hitler.
CNN has reached out to TMZ for comment.
The revelation of West’s alleged liking to Hitler comes amid a flurry of provocative measures the singer has taken since earlier this month. West wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during his Yeezy show in Paris on October 3. In addition, several black models dressed in clothing bearing the same phrase, and it was considered a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL, for its English acronym). Then, West posted on Instagram a private text conversation between him and Sean “Diddy Combs” in which he claimed Combs was “controlled by Jews.” This was followed by a tweet in which the rapper wrote that he would “die by 3 [sic] about the Jewish people.” For this reason, Twitter blocked his account.
West’s offensive rhetoric over the past few weeks has cost him several professional consequences. On Tuesday, adidas ended its seven-year partnership with the rapper, calling his recent actions “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous.”
The sportswear company said in a statement that it “does not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other type of hate speech.” He added that West’s latest comments violate “the company’s values of diversity, inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
Balenciaga also severed ties with West, as did talent agency CAA. Production company MRC stated that it was suspending a documentary about West, and GAP announced that it would remove Yeezy Gap products from its stores and shut down YeezyGap.com.
On Thursday, in an Instagram post titled “LOVE SPEECH,” West appeared to be referring to pending business relationships. Well, he wrote in part, “I lost $2 billion in one day and I’m still alive.”
West was also mentioned on banners by anti-Semitic protesters in Los Angeles last weekend. His comments were condemned by the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as by his ex-wife Kim Kardashian.
CNN’s Megan Thomas contributed to this story.
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