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Kanye West's cousin: 'Sex tape drama sparked breakdown'
Kanye West's cousin is convinced the family drama surrounding a stolen sex tape sparked the rapper's "decline", which resulted in his recent hospitalisation.
The Stronger hitmaker touched on the personal betrayal in the lyrics to his song Real Friends, which featured on his The Life of Pablo album earlier this year (16), and on the track, he revealed he had to pay the relative $250,000 (£201,700) to keep the X-rated footage under wraps.
He rapped, "I had a cousin that stole my laptop that I was f**kin' b**ches on/Paid that n**ga 250 thousand just to get it from him/Real friends... Huh?"
Kanye's cousin Lawrence Franklin has now opened up about the incident, which reportedly sparked a family rift in 2012, and prompted the hip-hop superstar to develop trust issues with those he was closest to.
Lawrence believes the stress of that situation only worsened over the years and contributed to his breakdown, which landed Kanye in hospital for a mental health evaluation late last month (Nov16).
"The sex tape episode started his decline - he stopped trusting people," he told DailyMail.com. "At the end of the day if a member of your family had taken you for a quarter of a million dollars - so they can complete their own ambitions - who can you trust within your circle...?
"When you go from being a regular person to being a huge star - and having all of these mounting issues and being completely void of the normalcy that you once had - it's tough. Where do you go? Who do you trust at the end of the day?"
Lawrence claims Kanye, who has since married reality star Kim Kardashian, had to hire a team of attorneys to ensure the explicit footage, which featured an unidentified woman, would never surface in public.
"Kanye was adamant that the tape would never get released...," he added. "This did make Kanye upset, but it was all kept quiet. It caused a huge rift in our family."
Lawrence blames the fall-out with causing Kanye to become "disconnected" from his relatives, and eventually made his behaviour spiral out of control.
Previous reports suggested Kim's armed robbery horror in Paris in October (16) and the November anniversary of his mother Donda's 2007 death also contributed to his breakdown.
Kanye spent nine days at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center last month (Nov16), when he received treatment for exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
He has since returned to the spotlight with numerous outings, including a trip to New York last week (ends16Dec16), when he met with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, and on Sunday (18Dec16), he and Kim stepped out together for their first public date night in weeks. The couple, which shares daughter North and son Saint, was photographed leaving Giorgio Baldi restaurant in Santa Monica, California after enjoying a romantic meal.
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