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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.
It was only a matter of time before Philadelphia found itself in the middle of some Kanye West beef.
The rapper-slash-entrepreneur-slash-infamous-shitposter on Thursday morning called out Adidas GM Daniel Cherry III in a now-deleted Instagram post. “I’m a nice person but I’m starting to feel like not being nice,” West wrote under a screenshot of Cherry from an article on comic book news website Bleeding Cool. “And don’t try to tell me what gang you used to role [sic] with in Philly this time.”
The post, obviously, sent the internet into a spiral of confusion.
Who was Daniel Cherry III and what had he done to make West mad? Was he, in fact, gang-affiliated? And, as frequent Kanye collaborator Pusha T. wrote in a comment, are there even gangs in Philly?
Our take: This disagreement has nothing to do with gang affiliation — and everything to do with the University of Pennsylvania and a failed business deal.
When Cherry lived in Philly during the 1990s, he wasn’t in a gang. He was a student at Penn, where he majored in Africana and Urban Studies. During his time at the Ivy League university, Cherry was involved with the Black Student League and the Greenfield Intercultural Center, which works with students to create programming around cross-cultural understanding.
Cherry “was a thoughtful, very kind, and very generous guy … just an all-around engaged Penn student,” his college roommate told Billy Penn over the phone, speaking on condition of anonymity (likely for fear of Kanye’s wrath). “He was not in a gang by any affiliation.”
The Adidas head honcho recently opened up about his experience at Penn in a lengthy Linkedin post, where he reflected on what it meant for his oldest daughter to attend lacrosse and tennis camps on the Philadelphia campus.
“[Visiting Penn] brought back a flood of memories for me,” Cherry wrote. “I had to leave my family, my friends, the only support system I had, and the entire world I knew in order to achieve my personal ambition in life … which was at the time simply to escape poverty and a small-town’s oppressive racism and nihilism.”
So, why is West deciding to blow up this Penn grad’s spot? Because business is personal.
The former director of advertising for the mythic Philly-bred brand AND1, Cherry has made a career out of working at the nexus of entertainment, apparel, and sports culture.
When Cherry left his post as general manager at DC Comics after only 16 months, rumor had it he was headed to work with West on a new, unspecified venture. That obviously didn’t pan out. Cherry hopped straight from DC Comics to his current role at Adidas.
Now here we are, watching West drag Philly’s name through the mud just for the sake of a viral clapback.
The rapper continued to throw jabs at Cherry for the rest of Thursday afternoon. One post reads, “If you not [sic] looking to work at Yeezy full time, Don’t text me or nobody I know. We’re not looking for help.” Our personal favorite? The “How to create an angry ye” starter pack, which insinuates that Adidas has been copying West’s designs.
West himself is no stranger to the University of Pennsylvania. His cousin Devo Harris, the former co-founder of Kanye’s G.O.O.D music label, attended the Wharton School of Business while John Legend was studying English, and the two roomed together before Harris introduced Legend to West.
When West referenced “that gang you used to [roll] with in Philly,” perhaps he was referring to the small subsection of Penn alums with street cred.