Did Zayn Malik Leave One Direction Because Of Naughty Boy? Fans Sure Seem To Think So

Directioners have found a sacrificial lamb to blame for Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction: the rapper Naughty Boy. Naughty Boy, whose real name is Shahid Kahn, revealed weeks before the announcement of Malik's departure that he has been working with Malik on a rap album. Thousands of fans have lashed out at the artist on Twitter, and he was trending for a while on Friday morning

When Naughty Boy revealed the collaboration to The Sun a few weeks ago, Directioners were mostly supportive of the news that Malik would be the first member of the band to try out some solo work. And it didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time. Naughty Boy played it down, though he also anticipated some backlash from Directioners:

I can't deny the fact that we have made music together... Zayn is going to feature on my next album... We're making music and having fun. This is just like a side gig and I don't think there's anything wrong with it... It's a good time for Zayn to showcase what he can really do. I don't think that is being fully exploited with the band because there are five people and it needs to be balanced out.

It's unclear whether Naughty Boy knew about Malik's plan to leave One Direction, and except for some cryptic tweets, he hasn't addressed it. But the way fans have painted it, the rapper cunningly led Malik on a wayward path away from his musical brethren. While they previously seemed so supportive, fans have now responded with a lot more vitriol:

Other fans are skeptical, and a little more measured:

From everything that Malik has said, he made his decision to leave in order to step out of the spotlight for a while, a decision that seems unrelated to his collaboration with Naughty Boy. Those playing the blame game should calm down, and if they can't do that, at least listen to the person they claim to worship/love.