Kanye West Defends Taylor Swift ‘Famous’ Lyric and VMAs Outburst, Again
The two music titans had enjoyed a reasonably friendly truce in recent years, letting 2009-era “I’mma let you finish” bygones be bygones. But their new friendship (frenemyship?) took a hit upon the release of Kanye’s The Life of Pablo track “Famous,” which opens with a lyric referencing their infamous onstage moment: “For all my South Side n—-as that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor still might have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous, I made that bitch famous.”
Addressing a crowd in Manila, The Phillippines on April 9, the rapper went behind the music, if you will, discussing the inspiration for the lyric after performing “Famous” live for the first time. West pointed out, not inaccurately, that the VMAs fallout affected him far more negatively than it did Swift (though, it was a direct result of his own actions).
“That night when I went onstage was the beginning of the end of my life. You know what night I’m talking about,” West said (quotes via the Toronto Sun). “When I just said what everybody else was thinking. So if I get in trouble for saying the truth what’s being said the rest of the time?”
According to Buzzfeed, he cited Lady Gaga’s decision to cancel her Fame Kills tour with him as one of the ways in which he was punished for saying said truth.
“I had to fight for every day of my life when the whole world turned against me for saying out loud what everyone else felt,” he continued. “But that’s the job of an artist, of a true artist, not to be controlled by financiers, not to be controlled by perception but only to be controlled by their truth.”
And ultimately, he says, it broke a sort of writer’s block on the subject, on which we can only hope he’s had his final word on.
“What I wanted you to know the whole time in the spirit of Nina Simone, in the spirit of real artists, this is the song that broke the writer’s block for me because it’s something I wanted to say so bad that they told me I couldn’t say,” Kanye told the crowd. Does that mean he truly thinks he made Taylor famous?
West had offered an initial array of rationalizations shortly after the song’s release, claiming when he’d called Taylor for approval, she thought the line “was funny and gave her blessings.” He even said the lyric was technically her idea, alleging it had arisen out of a conversation with a mutual friend in which she said “I can’t be mad at Kanye because he made me famous!”
Taylor definitely didn’t agree with Kanye’s version of events. Upon hearing the song, Swift’s camp released a statement that read, “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.'”
Rest assured that both artists are thriving, regardless of their unending feud: Following an unprecedented, frequently updated Tidal exclusive stream release of The Life of Pablo, the (ostensibly) finished version debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
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