Kano Computing has joined the long list of companies that have cut ties with Kanye West.
The London-based startup reached new heights last year after announcing the roll out of Stem Player, an audio remixing device that allows users to customize recordings. The hardware launched in August 2021, in conjunction with the release of West’s Donda album. Several months later, Kano confirmed it had agreed to release West’s Donda 2 project exclusively on Stem Player—a move that propelled Kano’s upward trajectory.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kano’s West deal proved to be quite successful. The company reportedly sold more than 100,000 units in the initial drop, with each device selling for $200. However, the startup’s association with the polarizing rapper has recently become a liability, as West continues to face widespread backlash over his anti-Semitic remarks. In addition to repeatedly espousing anti-Jewish tropes on social media, he also vowed to go “death con 3” on the Jewish community. The remarks not only hurt West’s public image, it also ruined his business relationships.
Kano CEO and co-founder Alex Klein told the Times he’s express his concerns directly with West, but was met with pushback.
“[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,” said Klein, who confirmed Kano has cut all business ties with West. “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.”
Klein also revealed Kano is now dealing with licensing lawsuits stemming from Donda and Donda 2 tracks. The Times points to the songs “Flowers” and “Life of the Party,” which reportedly include unauthorized samples. Kano addressed the complaints in a statement, claiming Kanye and Yeezy promised to only provide music with “all intellectual property rights, licenses and consents.”
Despite West’s controversies, Klein told the Times that West’s music will likely be associated with Stem Player “for some time.”
However, he and his team are now working on a “Ye-free” version of the device that will be open to all artists.
The CEO said he hopes the upcoming editions will help “deepen people’s understanding of what they love.”