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Former Yeezy and Adidas employees accuse Kanye West of "toxic and chaotic" behaviour in new open letter

A new open letter written by former staff members of both Adidas and Yeezy has accused the rapper Kanye West of using porn and “mind games” to bully staff and make them feel uncomfortable, with his behaviour described as manipulative and, at points, disturbing.

Earlier this month, a report from Rolling Stone published claims about the negative treatment of employees at Yeezy, with ex-staffers alleging that there was a “cult-like” environment at the office of the fashion brand which West – now known as Ye – owns.

Now, a new report has been published by Rolling Stone, featuring the accounts of more people who have worked at Yeezy and Adidas. Famously, the German company had a partnership with the rapper since 2013, but it recently terminated it following allegations of antisemitism. 

Per the publication, the open letter, which is titled, The Truth About Yeezy: A Call to Action for Adidas Leadership, was sent by former employees to board members and the CEO of Adidas, requesting that “the toxic and chaotic environment that Kanye West created,” including “a very sick pattern of predacious behaviour toward women,” stops.

It continues: “He has, in years past, exploded at women in the room with offensive remarks, and would resort to sexually disturbing references when providing design feedback. This type of response from a brand partner is one that Adidas employees should never be subjected to, nor should Adidas leadership ever tolerate.”

The new open letter contains the account of one ex-senior staff member at Adidas, who claims that at a 2017 meeting, Kanye asked her to “make me a shoe I can fuck”. Elsewhere, another claims they were invited to his home in the Hollywood Hills to find him watching hardcore porn and earnestly asking their opinion of it, while “not laughing at all”.

Per the new letter, pornography was seemingly a regular feature of being in Kanye’s company, with one senior Yeezy employee claiming that Adidas executives had warned him about this before taking the job, “Hey, just so you know, there’s gonna be this whole porn-reference thing”. Another executive said: “It’s gonna catch you off guard the first time. I think he does it to catch people off guard.”

“He would be in a meeting and he’d be talking to you, and he’d rattle off in his laptop” to play porn, the former employee added. “And he’s like, ‘I know it’s uncomfortable, but I kind of need this in the background to keep me focused.’ And you’d be like, ‘Uhhhhh, oh-kay.'”

Reportedly, he told staff: “If you ever get stuck creatively, just watch porn for 10 minutes.”

In one of the most critical parts of the letter, the staffers maintain that Adidas executives “turned their moral compass off” despite being aware of West’s “problematic” behaviour. Another former employee claimed: “There was no accountability. Difficult moments happened, with executives in the room — VP level or higher — and nothing would be done. You’d still show up to work the next day.”

It is also alleged that there was a “disturbingly” sexualised atmosphere at the Yeezy office, where Kanye attempted to “use his power to violate you in a quiet way and threaten your role and existence within the team”.

This claimant wrote: “The most troubling behaviour that should have been flagged by the executive team very early in the partnership is his manipulative and fear-based approach to leading the team, all while trying to assert dominance over Adidas employees in closed rooms.”

Kanye or his representatives are yet to comment on the matter.