Apple Music pulls Kanye West ‘Essentials’ playlists; first streaming service to take action

Kanye West continues to face repercussions for his antisemitic and anti-Black rhetoric, this time by Apple Music. After being dropped by companies like Adidas and Balenciaga, Rolling Stone reports today that Apple has removed its curated “Kanye West Essentials” playlist from Apple Music. West’s full discography, however, remains available via the streaming service.

This move makes Apple Music the first streaming platform to take action against West following his many hateful and offensive comments. The removal includes the “Kanye West Essentials” playlist, as well as the “Kanye West Video Essentials” playlist. Both appear to have been removed at some point this week and no longer surface in Apple Music search results.

Apple has stopped short of pulling West’s entire discography, despite mounting pressure to do so. In an interview with Reuters this week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek indicated that Spotify has no plans to do that. While acknowledging that West has made “just awful comments,” it’s ultimately up to his label to decide “if they want to take action or not.”

Rolling Stone points out, however, that it’s not necessarily that clearcut in West’s case:

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 could easily step in and pull West’s discography from Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming platforms. Thus far, however, it hasn’t shown any intentions of doing that.

In addition to losing his deals with companies like Adidas, Vogue, and Balenciaga, West was also temporarily locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He was allowed back on Instagram yesterday, while his Twitter account came back online today following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the service.

Apple has not yet commented on its action around Kanye West’s music on Apple Music. The two sides have worked closely in the past, including a live stream of West finishing his Donda album in 2021. A report recently indicated that West had also planned on naming his 2018 album Ye after Adolf Hitler.

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