"I Made That B*tch Famous": Finding the Good in Kanye vs. Taylor Swift Pt. 2

Kanye says Taylor Swift approved his controversial line on "Famous," Swift denies that she did. But no matter who's lying, discussion can only be a good thing.

Kanye said a thing. I repeat, KANYE SAID A THING: 

"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, I made that bitch famous."

In many ways Kanye's career has been defined by his willingness to say what no one else will, both on and off the mic. From jokes like, "Got a light skinned friend look like Michael Jackson" to political statements like, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," one of the things we've loved, hated and loved again about Kanye is just how unfiltered he is. Don't let him get into his zone. 

After Kanye's infamous interruption of Taylor Swift prompted the kind of backlash usually reserved for criminals, not award show crashers, we saw West in rare apology mode. "It was rude, period," he told Jay Leno in a very public mea culpa. Since then Kanye's taken pains to be seen as a member of Swift's #squad in public, it seems like even the immortal Kanye West couldn't withstand the fury of mainstream America for having interrupted their pop princess. And then during yesterday's stream of his new The Life of Pablo album, he said a thing on his "Famous" track. I repeat, KANYE SAID A THING.    

"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, I made that bitch famous."

The line was fleeting, coming and going during a live stream, but it's already predictably setting the internet ablaze, prompting Kanye to take to Twitter (cringe) claiming that he had approval from Swift herself to use that line and that she was in on the joke - the joke presumably being trolling America by saying the one thing he "shouldn't" say: 

It's powerful to think of Kanye and Swift on the phone discussing lyrics, collaborating on an effort to poke America into reacting, except that might not be what happened at all. According to Taylor Swift's publicist, who delivered her official public statement to the world this morning: 

"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." - via Jon Caramanica 

So someone's lying, but on a certain level it doesn't matter whether Taylor gave her approval or not. Taylor Swift could approve a specific reference to her, but no one woman can "approve" using the word "bitch," just like no Black person could approve anyone using the word "nigger" or any one person could approve anything in regards to a larger group they're a part of.

An artist's role isn't to apologize or have their art approved by anyone, it's to provoke discussion, to explore and highlight how culture works. And so if we get to have genuine discussions about misogny and art because of that line - not finger-pointing or reflexive defensiveness, but genuine discussions - than whether that line is right or wrong, the results will be positive. Kanye said a thing, and when Kanye says a thing the world listens. What happens after that is up to us. 

[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter. Image via Instagram.]



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