Company behind Kanye West’s Stem Player cuts ties with rapper and begins work on “Ye-free” device

CEO of Kano Computing says there's "no deal in place" while West pedals "racial conspiracy theories"

Kano Computing, the company that developed the Stem Player to allow fans to listen to and customise songs from Kanye West‘s ‘Donda’ albums, has severed ties with the rapper.

Alex Klein, CEO and co-founder of Kano, has said in a new interview that his company has had to distance itself from the rapper and entrepreneur in the wake of his comments that have been criticised as anti-Semitic.

Last month West vowed to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”, whom he claims have a link with Black people (“I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because Black people are actually Jew also,” Ye wrote, before having his Twitter and Instagram account locked.

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West has repeatedly denied that his comments were racist, including saying that he doesn’t believe in the term “anti-Semitism” because he claims that it’s “not factual”. However, he later offered some sort of apology in an interview with Piers Morgan, saying: “I’m sorry for the people that I hurt with the ‘death con’… I feel like I caused hurt and confusion”.

Kanye West
Kanye West pictured in 2022. CREDIT: Gotham/GC Images

Klein, who is half Jewish, spoke to The Los Angeles Times about his dealings with the embattled star. “[West] tried to call me racist when I gently told him that attacking a whole race of people wasn’t good for him or Stem,” he said.

“I asked Kanye not to take the path he’s on. We’ve told him that we’re unable to work together while he’s putting out racial conspiracy theories. There’s no deal in place.”

Kano’s move follows numerous other organisations and figures that have worked with West. Adidas recently cut ties with the star – so have his lawyer and booking agency. And Hollywood production company and financiers, MRC, has revealed that it will shelve a “recently completed” documentary about West.

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has also axed its relationship with West, while a representative for Vogue magazine confirmed to Page Six last month that neither the magazine nor its editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, plan to work with West moving forward.

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Kano’s Stem Player allowed users to manipulate songs using the player by separating parts of the compositions and tweaking sounds. Among the features is the ability to “control vocals, drums, bass, and samples” and “split any song into stems”.

It’s retailed at $200 (£145) and Kano reportedly sold more than 100,000 units in the initial drop for ‘Donda’. Later, fans could only listen to West’s follow-up ‘Donda 2’ via the player.

Klein added that West had offered to buy out the company and the rights to the Stem Player after his wish for exclusivity in excluding other musical artists on the platform was denied.

The CEO said that he declined to sell Kano to West. “Unfortunately, Kanye didn’t want to allow other musical artists onto the platform. This was a disagreement that we had trouble resolving,” Klein said.

Meanwhile, Kano is now working on a “Ye-free” version of the device that will be open to all artists. Klein said that he hopes the upcoming editions will help “deepen people’s understanding of what they love”.

In other news, a moderator of the rapper’s subreddit has said that the page has become a “bloodbath” in the wake of his controversies.

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