Kanye West paid a settlement to a former employee who alleged he had used antisemitic language in the workplace, according to documents seen by NBC News.
In addition, six people who have worked with West or witnessed him in professional settings over the past five years said they had heard the US rapper praise Adolf Hitler or mention conspiracy theories about Jewish people.
Three of them are former employees or collaborators, and said they recalled multiple instances of West using antisemitic language. The three other people said they recalled a 2018 incident in which he went on an antisemitic tirade in an interview at TMZ’s offices.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Explained: Kanye West’s antisemitism controversy Their accounts, as well as the settlement, suggest that West has used such language for years in more instances than previously known to the public – well before his recent antisemitic comments online and in interviews came to light, resulting in him losing a wave of business deals.
Ryder Ripps, a conceptual artist who worked with the rapper on and off from 2014 to 2018, said he recalled multiple times when West spoke positively about Hitler and the Nazis or mentioned anti-Jewish conspiracies during meetings in 2018.
“He had told me a bunch of s*** about, like, how ‘Nazis are good at propaganda,'” Ripps said, remembering multiple instances in which West allegedly claimed: “‘Jews have codes.'”
Another former employee, who worked with West for three years, recounted having witnessed him praising Hitler and Nazis in casual discussions.
“I feel like he was just kind of, like, looking around, like, seeing, like, how are people reacting?” the ex-employee said. “He would say, ‘I even love Hitler,’ and then he would, like, pause for reactions.”
The ex-employee claimed West praised Hitler in 2018 in a meeting about an apparel project – saying he “had some good qualities” and that “he wasn’t all bad”.
Ripps, who is Jewish, said he pushed back against West’s comments at the time but thought they “didn’t seem that dangerous”.
But after West’s most recent wave of statements, Ripps said he sees things differently – adding: “This is dangerous and disgusting and actually violent.
“With this pattern that’s happening and with the doubling and tripling down of all this, it’s pretty obvious that this is some kind of disgusting, hate-filled, strange Nazi obsession.”
Ripps said he believes antisemitic people have become emboldened following West’s remarks.
In the settlement reviewed by NBC News, West paid a former employee who alleged having witnessed more than one incident in which West praised Hitler or Nazis in business meetings. West denied the claims made by the former employee in the agreement.
The former employee spoke on the condition of anonymity, having signed a nondisclosure agreement. NBC News, which is withholding certain details about the settlement to protect the person’s anonymity, reviewed the settlement, along with other correspondence and proof of the payment the former employee said they had received.
Representatives for West did not respond to requests for comment.
CNN reported last Thursday that a business executive who worked for West had accused him of creating a hostile work environment through an “obsession” with Hitler and had received a settlement. NBC News has not confirmed the settlement, which appears to be separate from the case of the former employee who shared settlement documents with NBC News.
West has recently made a string of remarks targeting Jewish people and referring to antisemitic conspiracy theories, some of them on social media and in interviews.
The comments have included repeated attacks on “Jewish media” – invoking the antisemitic claim that Jewish people disproportionately control the media – and Jewish people in general.
In an interview with Piers Morgan, West apologized “for the pain that I’ve caused and the confusion that I cause”.
But days later, he doubled down on his previous antisemitic remarks in an interview with MIT research scientist Lex Fridman. On Friday, West continued to echo antisemitic conspiracy theories in a conversation with paparazzi, pulling up a spreadsheet that he said highlighted Jewish media executives in red.
West recent remarks have led to a cascade of consequences.
On 20 October, Balenciaga severed ties with West, who had opened the fashion house’s runway show in September.
On 25 October, Adidas ended its partnership with West and his brand Yeezy – joining Gap, Foot Locker and other brands that have cut off business relationships with him.