Kanye West has been accused of subjecting a former business partner and friend to antisemitic abuse.
Alex Klein, a tech entrepreneur who worked with the rapper – now known as Ye – on the “Stem Player” that he used to release his Donda 2 album decided to end the collaboration after troubling behaviour, including publicly praising Hitler. As a result, he found himself on the receiving end of an angry, racist tirade.
“We turned down 10 million dollars. Kanye was very angry,” says Klein in BBC documentary The Trouble with KanYe.
“He was saying ‘I feel like I wanna smack you’ and ‘you’re exactly like the other Jews’ – almost relishing and revelling in how offensive he could be, using these phrases hoping to hurt me”.
“I asked him: ‘do you really think Jews are working together to hold you back?’ and he said ‘yes, yes I do.”
According to Klein, who worked with West between 2019 and 2022, his antisemitic public statements are a deliberate political strategy.
He claims that West described his comments as “‘not even a statement that I need to take back because look at all the energy around me right now. Without that statement, I wouldn’t become president’.”
“He thinks it’s his manifest destiny, his god-chosen destiny to become president. He used these anti-Jewish statements as part of a political platform and he told me that he was attempting to do what Trump did in a more intense way.”
When the documentary’s presenter, Bafta-winning investigative journalist Mobeen Azhar asks if West’s plan is to “supersize Trump”, Klein responds: “Exactly, yeah.”
Elsewhere in the BBC documentary, Azhar meets a homeless man who claims that West approached him to manage his 2024 presidential campaign after attending the same church as him.
Mark, who lives in his car, says that West regularly visits the Cornerstone Christian church, where the white nationalist Nick Fuentes is known to hold political meetings.“They all said I was the most religiously erudite in the room and Kanye started looking to me for my opinion on every topic that came up,” he tells Azhar“He called me the following Monday, the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the first thing he said to me was ‘I want you to be my campaign manager to run for president’.”
“This demon in the box that he’s playing with for his own benefit is irresponsible. The conversation has become ‘oh, it’s his mental health’ and ‘oh, maybe a few Jewish people screwed him over’. It’s like: no. Kanye needs to be taken seriously.”
The pastor of Cornerstone Christian church, who didn’t want to be filmed for the documentary, tells Azhar that West had bought part of the property and had “big plans”. The pastor shows Azhar a room full of workers on sewing machines with mood boards on the wall showing new designs for his Yeezy brand.
According to Klein, it’s important that the public know about the antisemitic abuse he received at Kanye’s hands. “The return of Kanye is inevitable and I think it’s important to shed light on the situation,” he says.