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You thought Elon Musk was a bad boss? Wait till you hear what Kanye West did to the folks at Yeezy

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 11, 2022 | 15:39

You thought Elon Musk was a bad boss? Wait till you hear what Kanye West did to the folks at Yeezy

Cover illustration by Geetanjali Singh

Elon Musk, the world's most hated boss at the moment (on and at Twitter, and otherwise), seems to have some solid competition when it comes to being a bad boss. Also part of this bad-bosses' club is rapper Kanye West, best known for his foot-in-the-mouth comments, Insta meltdowns and some songs, you know.

So, what do we have here?

Another day, another report of Kanye West exceeding himself as a truly awful human being.

Here’s your weekly dose of Kanye West antics.

In an expose published by Rolling Stone on November 9, multiple accounts of workplace intimidation and humiliation were compiled from former employees at the Yeezy showroom in Los Angeles, California. 

  • The report records various instances of West’s alleged mistreatment of the Yeezy staff ranging from 12- to 15-hour work cycles every day, inconsistent or delayed payments, and abrupt firings for the most absurd reasons. 
“His anger at us in everyday interactions was just inappropriate, and honestly an HR nightmare.” 
- An Adidas Yeezy designer for Rolling Stone

What started out as an apparel and sneakers collaboration with Adidas in 2013 for his first model Yeezy Boost 750, gradually grew into the Yeezy empire that thrived (until very recently). According to Forbes, the Adidas deal raised the rapper's net worth by $1.5 billion. 

Photo: Getty Images
  • In the years since, West has maintained what has been described as a “cult-like atmosphere” at his Yeezy workshop, with employees treating each step at the company as if they were treading on eggshells. 
“How he is on social media is exactly how he’s like with employees.”
- Another Adidas Yeezy designer for Rolling Stone

An ex-staff member of Yeezy recounted the ridiculous reason for which West fired them. The source claimed that upon throwing the floor open for musical suggestions at the workspace...

...the rapper fired them for recommending to play Drake.

“I thought, ‘Oh, he’s a rapper, I should probably mention some rap. Big mistake — the next day I was fired,”
- The ex-staffer tells Rolling Stone

The randomness of the abrupt job terminations went according to the whims and fancies of West’s mood, a number of ex-employees claim. The littlest of inconsistencies or off-putters could trigger the rapper and kept the employees in constant jeopardy of losing their livelihood.

“Nothing has ever compared to the amount of chaos, the amount of stress and [the amount of] anxiety you go through working for Yeezy.”
- An Adidas x Yeezy senior team member to Rolling Stone
  • Other instances recount a top creative at Yeezy being called out for wearing a yellow sweater to work before being subsequently fired; a set dress colour-code being mandated by the rapper as workplace attire. 
  • The rapper has also allegedly held up employee cheques as a means of getting back at Adidas, when the company falls into creative disagreements with him, with many former employees claiming to have gone on “mini-strikes” for their payments being held up for months on end.
Photo: Getty Images

If this wasn’t enough, West’s infamous Yeezy Season 9 presentation at the Los Angeles showroom was reported to draw inspiration from skinheads and Nazis. 

Fiasco after fiasco: Following his recent bouts of anti-semitism and the 'White Lives Matter' stint he pulled at the Paris Fashion Week last month, a mass exodus of brands no longer wanting to associate themselves with the rapper - namely Adidas and Gap - West saw his billionaire status crumble away before his eyes.

Photo: Getty Images

Currently, Adidas is gearing up to continue selling shoes from the Yeezy line - for which it owns creative rights and designs - starting 2023. Having cut ties with the rapper following his infamous Drink Champs interview last month, the company has branded West’s anti-semitic comments as “hurtful, unacceptable, and dangerous for a particular community”.

Adidas will save roughly $302 million in 2023 because of royalties and marketing costs it will no longer pay to support the Yeezy business.

Last updated: November 11, 2022 | 15:39
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