The ongoing de-platforming of Kanye West following weeks of antisemitic and anti-Black rhetoric has already cost him numerous business deals (including his lucrative partnerships with Balenciaga and Adidas) and his representation in Hollywood. Now, Apple Music has taken the lead as the first streaming giant to take tangible action in response to his behaviors, apparently removing the Kanye West Essentials playlist from their platform.
While West’s discography remains intact, a search for the platform-generated playlist — which features a comprehensive, career-spanning collection of an artist’s music — garners no results beyond a blank loading screen. A search for the separate visual playlist, Kanye West Video Essentials, yields the same results.
A rep for Apple Music did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
The disappearance of the playlist comes shortly after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek clarified in an interview with Reuters that while West has made “just awful comments,” his ideologies haven’t yet made their way into the music itself.
“It’s really just his music, and his music doesn’t violate our policy,” Ek explained. “It’s up to his label, if they want to take action or not.”
But the situation of the West’s label is complicated on his own, considering the fact that he is technically no longer signed to one. After spending most of his career with Def Jam Recordings, West completed his contract with the release of Donda last year. Regardless, the ties between the two haven’t been completely severed, given that Def Jam remains responsible for maintaining his catalog, which features 10 studio albums and a number of collaborative releases.
Def Jam’s parent company, Universal Music Group, did issue a statement indirectly denouncing West’s comments earlier this month, shortly after he took to the Drink Champs podcast to voice harmful stereotypes about Jews and false statements about the death of George Floyd.
“There is no place for antisemitism in our society. We are deeply committed to combating antisemitism and every other form of prejudice,” UMG wrote in a tweet promoting a partnership it has with the American Jewish Committee. Though the tweet doesn’t specifically mention West by name, it is the closest to a statement the label has offered amid the growing controversies. It is worth noting that UMG’s partnership with the AJC came to fruition before the controversy began, according to an internal note issued by UMG in April.
“Def Jam’s relationship with Ye as a recording artist, Def Jam’s partnership with the GOOD Music label venture and Ye’s merchandise agreement with Bravado all ended in 2021,” UMG later shared in a separate statement.