Ye, the rap star formerly known as Kanye West, on Monday made his first concert appearance after a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and in interviews last year, which led to his alienation from the music industry and loss of lucrative fashion deals with Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga.
Ye’s return to the stage came as a guest during a livestreamed album-release concert by Travis Scott at Circus Maximus, the park in central Rome that in ancient times was the site of a giant stadium where chariot races and other entertainment took place.
Scott, a protégé of Ye’s, brought his mentor out during a concert to celebrate his chart-topping new album, “Utopia.” With Scott dressed in white and Ye all in black — initially with a hood and mask, which didn’t stay on for long — they performed two Ye songs together: “Praise God,” from his 2021 album “Donda,” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” a Kanye West classic from his 2007 album “Graduation.”
“There is no ‘Utopia’ without Kanye West,” Scott told the crowd. “There is no Travis Scott without Kanye West. There is no Rome without Kanye West.”
After years of erratic and controversial behavior, Ye finally crossed a line with the music and fashion industries last fall, after he showed up at Paris Fashion Week in a shirt that read “White Lives Matter,” and then tweeted that he would go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” That led to his expulsion from social media, his ejection from the Creative Artists Agency and the loss of his Yeezy brand sneaker and fashion design partnerships. The deal with Adidas had been especially valuable, contributing more than 10 percent of the $2 billion in profit that the company made in 2021.
Despite widespread condemnations, Ye doubled down on his comments. Last December, he joined “Infowars,” the online talk show hosted by Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who has been ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion for promulgating lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. On that show, Ye said, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis,” and “I do love Hitler.”
Ye had largely kept a low profile since then, though last week Twitter restored Ye’s account. It had been suspended a day after the Infowars interview, with Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter — which has now been rebranded as X — saying that Ye had “violated our rule against incitement to violence.”
Before the Rome appearance, Ye’s last concert was in Miami in February 2022, promoting his album “Donda 2.”