Around a year ago, actress Evan Rachel Wood and more than a dozen other women came forward with allegations of rape, physical assault, and mental cruelty against Marilyn Manson. The entertainment industry reacted swiftly, with Manson’s manager, booking agent, record label, and others ending their associations with him soon after. (Manson has denied the allegations.) Since then, the only prominent figure in music to support Manson publicly has been Kanye West, who featured the musician on his Donda album and has given him a spotlight at events.
Now one of West’s collaborators says Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, will likely feature heavily on Donda 2, due out Feb. 22. “I see Marilyn a lot in the studio,” producer Digital Nas tells Rolling Stone. “Like, every day I go to the studio, Marilyn is there working on Donda 2.“
West and Warner have been expanding their working relationship since Warner appeared at West’s Donda launch event last August. Since then, Warner was credited as a songwriter on Donda and appeared at West’s regular religious stream Sunday Service. More recently, Warner collaborator Tim Skold published a photo of himself to Instagram with the hashtags #MarilynManson, #KanyeWest, #DondasPlace. Digital Nas explains that Warner, who appears in the studio without makeup, and his collaborators have been working with West in a production and songwriting capacity.
“He doesn’t want Marilyn to play rap beats,” Nas says. “He wants Marilyn to play what he makes, and then Ye will take parts of that and sample parts of that and use parts of that, like he did [generally when making] Yeezus. … He has some producers from Yeezus working on Donda 2 this time around, [as well as] Marilyn, me, a bunch of producers from Donda 1.”
Originally, West’s allegiance with Warner seemed like an extension of his edgelord behavior, such as claiming slavery “sounds like a choice” and the rapper’s support for Donald Trump. But Digital Nas speculates another reason West has embraced Warner: Christian sympathy. “I think it’s moreso that Ye is coming from a standpoint of like, ‘We all make mistakes,’ ” he says. “I think that’s maybe why he had DaBaby [who was widey criticized last year for homophobic remarks] and Marilyn at that one show. I’m just assuming it is from a standpoint of like, ‘We’re all sinners. We all make mistakes. We shouldn’t point the finger at someone for the mistakes they’ve made or something like that.’ ”
Earlier this month, a rep for Warner told Rolling Stone that the musician “enjoyed collaborating with Ye on Donda and looks forward to working with him again.” Reached for comment on this story, the rep confirmed that “Manson is continuing his creative collaboration with Ye.” Reps for West did not return a request for comment.
Last November, West said he was supporting Warner because he wanted to stand up to cancel culture, though he downplayed the allegations against Warner. “When I sit next to Marilyn Manson and DaBaby right after both of them got canceled, for five songs, you know, it’s like they can’t cancel us all,” West said on an episode of Drink Champs. “[Somebody will] hit you with the accusations of somebody who you was with 10 years ago. And also, there’s women who’ve been through really serious things, pulled in alleys against their will — that’s different than a hug, but it’s classified as the same thing.”
Four women have filed civil lawsuits against Warner, accusing him of rape, physical assault, and cruel punishments such as being confined in a small, soundproof enclosure Warner reportedly called the “Bad Girls’ Room.” Many of his ex-girlfriends have claimed Warner’s alleged abuse left them with crippling depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Wood documented her experience in a two-part HBO film titled Phoenix Rising. In the film’s first part, which premiered at Sundance earlier this month, she claimed Warner “essentially raped” her on-camera during the filming of his “Heart-Shaped Glasses” video.
In a Rolling Stone exposé, some of those women and many of Warner’s collaborators also claimed the singer loved flirting with Nazi imagery and casually using racial slurs. “He said the n-word quite a bit,” one source said, adding that Warner “almost reveled in being able to say it in front of Black people.”
West first showed his support for Warner last August when he brought him out onstage at his Donda launch event in Chicago. Both Warner and DaBaby stood next to West on the porch of a replica of West’s childhood home. When Donda came out that month, Warner was listed as a songwriter on the album’s “Jail Pt 2.” When the Recording Academy nominated Donda for the Album of the Year Grammy in November, Warner was listed as a possible recipient if it were to win.
West also invited Warner as a guest to one of his Sunday Service events last Halloween. Warner, whose breakthrough album was titled Antichrist Superstar, bowed his head in prayer alongside West and Justin Bieber at the event.
Most recently, Warner and West were seen together in photos at a private screening of Zola. Model Julia Fox told Interview magazine that model-photographer Richie Shazam “ate sashimi with Marilyn Manson and they had a really nice heart-to-heart.” (A rep for Shazam did not reply to a request for comment.)
Digital Nas says West and Warner have “a crazy dynamic.” “I would have never, ever thought that would happen, but it happened,” he says.