The artist soon-to-be formally known as Kanye West is well known for courting controversy, long ago cementing his status as many folks’ problematic fave. However, his latest alleged shenanigans don’t involve who was—and wasn’t—included on his latest release, Donda, but who should’ve been credited with the logo featured on the album’s merchandise.
As reported by the Daily Beast, the Donda logo featured on Ye’s $100 concert tees is a not-so-subtle rip-off of one from black-owned label Infinity G8ds; that is, according to its creative director, Randy Dawkins.
As described by the Beast, Donda’s “Neutral-colored long-sleeve T-shirts were stamped with a bolded, stretched-out Star of David with a thin cross centered in the middle, positioned a few inches below the collar. Underneath read “Donda” along with the date of the event...There’s no doubt that Infinity G8ds’ logo is uncannily similar to the one featured on West’s limited-edition merch—the primary changes only being a slightly elongated star and the removal of the infinity sign from the cross.”
No doubt, the argument from Ye’s camp—which has yet to issue comment on the controversy—is that the merging of two known religious symbols cannot be considered copyright infringement. However, compounding the issue is that Ye’s personal executive chef Willie Wallace, an associate of Dawkins, actually reached out to the lesser-known brand beforehand, having initially met through Travis Reece, another of West’s personal chefs as well as an Infinity G8ds collaborator.
More from the Beast:
...Dawkins says Wallace suggested he send over some items that he could show West, saying he thought he’d be interested in them.
Dawkins says they ended up shipping Wallace about five pieces from the latest line, which Wallace received. The Daily Beast reviewed a tracking number of the shipment, which confirmed the delivery. The next day, Dawkins says he received a FaceTime from Wallace, who had West on the phone with him.
“I was on the phone directly talking to Kanye,” Dawkins says. “He was like, ‘Bro, I really love your design. It’s really dope. When can I meet you to talk about your process?’ His exact words, he said that he wants to talk to me about my mind.”
Understandably excited, in July, Dawkins and Infinity G8ds’ main artist, SSO Sneezy reportedly drove nine hours from Miami to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where West was living while working on Donda.
“The conversation was pretty general,” Dawkins told the Beast of their meeting with West. “He just wanted to understand our process—what does the design represent? We explained it to him and broke it down. We are very deep into spirituality; we try to inspire people on that. He was really loving it because he’s on his own spiritual journey...He started to sell us dreams about doing business with him, and that was the meeting,” Dawkins continued, later adding: “At the end of the meeting, he told us he was going to keep in contact with us but never did.”
Instead, it was Reece who called the duo a week later after seeing Ye’s version of the logo on clothing which subsequently debuted in the Donda merch booth at the Atlanta listening party on August 5.
“He called us and says, ‘Bro, I’m in the kitchen and these people walked in with our design on their clothes,’” said Dawkins. “I’m like, what? [They] never called us, never asked us, never did anything like that.”
As a means of providing receipts on their July meeting with West, Sneezy posted an Aug. 6 Instagram slideshow, recounting the exchange and captioning it, in part:
We met with him on the 26th at the @mercedesbenzstadium which is shown in the second slide where we were sitting inside the actual restaurant in the stadium waiting to meet and we also brought 5 additional Merch pieces as gifts.
Slide 3 shows our confirmation that we indeed did have the meeting. Which the meeting itself went smooth, he was interested in our creative process behind the design and the materials we used . Now a week later for his #Donda Album Release event he released footage of his Merch with a sticking resemblance to the @infinityg8ds Design.
WE ARE NOT THE TYPE OF PEOPLE TO CHASE CLOUT BUT BUSINESS COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED DIFFERENTLY SO WE COULD AT LEAST HAVE GOTTEN OUR CREATIVE CREDIT.
The team also tried contacting Wallace, who suddenly refused to put them in contact with anyone on West’s team; tellingly, Reece was subsequently fired as personal chef. Since Infinity G8ds has gone public with their side of the story, West’s business manager Bu Thiam has reportedly reached out, but a resolution has yet to be reached.
“To see him move in this type of way was like a misjudgment of his character for me,” Dawkins told the Beast. “From one Black artist to another Black artist, he could have said, ‘I see what you got going on, let’s help you gain some exposure, some visibility.’ That’s all we ask.
“It’s disappointing,” Dawkins also noted. “We don’t have any bad vibes or bad feelings toward him, we actually like the dude. But how he handled business? Well, that’s another story.”
Of course, despite the fact that West recently sued Walmart for knocking off his Yeezy designs—while being sued himself for unpaid wages—his alleged movements here echo those of several other entrepreneurs in his immediate circle. including soon-to-be-former sisters-in-law Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, and longtime collaborator Virgil Abloh, who faced similar allegations just last week.
However, there is a minor bright side for the brand, as noted in their IG post: “After all this Im still happy to say the official website of @infinityg8ds Has officially been launched and now up and running for our supporters thank you & God Bless to All.”