Kanye West has never shied away from attention or pushing boundaries for the sake of being controversial, but when the rapper decided to feature DaBaby and Marilyn Manson on his new album Donda, many of his fans were rightfully shocked and disgusted.
DaBaby is currently caught in a shitstorm of his own making ever since he went on a viral homophobic rant during his set at Rolling Loud in July, leading a handful of festivals to drop him from lineups and drawing heavy criticism from various musicians, including Dua Lipa, who featured him on the remix on her hit song “Levitating.” (He also brought out rapper Tory Lanez at that same show, the man who shot Megan Thee Stallion twice, knowing she’d be at the festival.)
But it was West’s choice to have shock-rock musician Marilyn Manson (real name Brian Warner) at his side for the debut of the song “Jail pt 2,” which Warner is credited as a writer and performer on, that really felt reckless. The song’s lyrics are about “violence in the night,” how we are “all liars,” and having a rap sheet, as Warner’s voice screams in the background, “Guess who’s goin’ to jail tonight!”
It makes for a sickening listen, considering that Warner has been publicly accused by at least 15 women of sexual assault, sexual battery, emotional and physical abuse, torture, as well as other disturbing behavior.
The 52-year-old is also still under investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, as the department confirmed to The Daily Beast that the February case it had opened over alleged domestic abuse is still active and ongoing. Warner has denied all allegations of abuse and assault.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood is one of Warner’s most prominent accusers, boldly naming her ex-boyfriend as her long-mentioned abuser in February. “He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years,” Wood wrote in an Instagram post. “I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent.”
Her declaration led his former assistant Ashley Walters, artist Gabriella Accarino, and models Sarah McNeilly and Ashley Lindsay Morgan Smithline, to stand in solidarity with Wood and share their experiences as well. Warner is currently facing at least four civil suits from some of these women.
With an ongoing investigation, multiple accusations, and lawsuits looming over Warner, who was dropped from his record label Loma Vista and hasn’t been seen in public in months, it’s unfathomable why West went out of his way to align himself with him—an artist he’s never worked with before—on a song that seems to attempt to make light of so-called “cancel culture.”
Throughout the years, Warner has been dipping his toe into the hip-hop industry, collaborating with DMX on the rapper’s 1998 song “The Omen,” and more recently for A$AP Ferg’s 2020 song “Marilyn Manson.” But in light of the recent allegations, for West to work with the rocker in the name of making a statement or an attempt to be provocative, thereby opening up his global fanbase to Warner, sends a terrible message to victims of domestic violence.
The collaboration apparently nauseated Wood, who on Saturday night debuted her cover of “You Get What You Give.”
“I’ve been saving this but it seems like the appropriate time,” she said before raising her middle finger up when the song’s lyrics name-drop Warner. “For my fellow survivors who got slapped in the face this week,” Wood captioned the post on Instagram. “I love you. Don’t give up.”
Wood’s sentiment was echoed by attorney Jay D. Ellwanger, who is representing Smithline and Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco, who is suing Manson for sexual assault, human trafficking, and abuse. He told The Daily Beast in a comment, “It is sad that Marilyn Manson has chosen to exploit these very serious allegations of abuse instead of taking responsibility for the pain he has caused.”
Singer Cecilia Della Peruti, best known by her stage name Gothic Tropic, was close friends with Wood while she was dating Warner and previously told The Daily Beast how she was there at the height of the alleged abuse, applauding Wood in February for coming forward.
“Kanye relying on shock value to boost album sales is really insecure and embarrassing,” she told The Daily Beast. “I’m not surprised abusers are still finding support in the music industry, an industry largely built on the work of pedophiles and rapists. Not surprised he’s fine offending victims of Marilyn Manson… also not surprised he’s fine offending queer and gay men. But sexual assault and domestic assault effects everyone, and encouraging his following to slap victims in the face makes him an even bigger loser.”
“This behavior puts victims in real danger, and perpetuates harmful reprisals for coming out about abuse by powerful men, adding yet another hurdle to the pile of shit we already have to deal with,” she added.
Manson is currently facing at least three civil suits and had turned himself into police in July over a New Hampshire arrest warrant for allegedly spitting at a female videographer at a concert in 2019. In February, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said its Special Victims Bureau had opened an investigation into Manson over alleged domestic abuse. The case is still active and ongoing, the department told The Daily Beast.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau is investigating allegation(s) of domestic violence involving Mr. Brian Warner also known as ‘Marilyn Manson,’ who works in the music industry,” the department said at the time. “The incidents occurred between 2009 and 2011 when Mr. Warner lived in the city of West Hollywood.”
The time period listed by officials overlaps with when Warner was dating Wood, who began a relationship with the singer when she was 19 and he was 37 in 2007, before they split in Aug. 2010.
Wood, 33, has been vocal about being a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, championing the Phoenix Act, which was signed into California state law in 2019, as well as giving a moving testimony before a House Judiciary Committee in 2018 in favor of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights.
While she never named Warner during her speech, she said her abuser made “threats against my life,” and described a pattern of “severe gaslighting and brainwashing, waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body, and the worst part, sick rituals of binding me up by my hands and feet to be mentally and physically tortured until my abuser felt I had ‘proven my love for them.’”
Wood’s claims mirror those of the other women who spoke out against Warner, including Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco, who sued Warner in April, claiming he raped her in May 2011 and “used drugs, force, and threats of force to coerce sexual acts” from her, at times when she was unconscious. “These acts include spanking, biting, cutting, and whipping Ms. Bianco’s buttocks, breasts, and genitals for Mr. Warner’s sexual gratification—all without the consent of Plaintiff,” the lawsuit claimed. Among the disturbing claims, Bianco describes an incident in which Warner allegedly electrocuted her and beat her with a whip that he claimed was used by Nazis.
Warner responded to Bianco’s suit in late July, claiming that she was part of a “coordinated attack” that was “cynically and dishonestly seeking to monetize and exploit the Me Too movement.”
In May, Warner was sued by another ex-girlfriend under the name of “Jane Doe” whom he began dating in 2011. She also claimed that Warner raped her and threatened to kill her. Her lawsuit alleged that Warner one time “honored” her by allegedly playing her a homemade video that showed an apparent teenage fan being “berated,” stripped of her shirt, forced to drink urine, threatened with a gun, and possibly pistol-whipped.
Love Bailey, a visual filmmaker, previously told The Daily Beast how she thought she was going to die when Warner suddenly pulled a gun on her at his home while she was there to style a photoshoot in 2011. Right as Warner went to pull the trigger, he let out a laugh and said, “I don’t like f—ts,” recalled Love Bailey, who is trans. “There’s a scar on my life from that instant,” she said. “He took a part of my innocence. He needs to be set as an example that men in the industry cannot get away with this and people shouldn’t glorify people like this.”