With all the "Kanye's gonna make this Paul McCartney guy a star" jokes it's easy to forget just how truly historic and momentous that collaboration was.
McCartney headed the biggest band to ever pass over the face of the Earth, and working with Kanye not once but twice, on "FourFiveSeconds" and "All Day," was a symbolic bridging of genres, generations and icons. But it almost didn't happen at all because of Oprah. That last sentence is a real and true thing.
In a new interview with BBC, McCartney revealed that the big O told him to pull out his part from "All Day" because the song used the word "nigga" repeatedly:
“People like Oprah, who’s a little conservative about that stuff, said, ‘You shouldn’t do it, even black people shouldn’t use that word.' I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s Kanye.' And he’s talking about an urban generation that uses that word in a completely different way. It’s the context. So I was actually pleased with it.”
First, let's acknowledge the very real behind-the-scenes Illuminati power moves happening here, with media's most powerful woman in Oprah trying to convince rock's most famous figure, Paul McCartney, to cut ties with music's most polarizing figure, Kanye West.
And second, while it's just not my place to weigh in on the use of the word "nigga" by Black people, it is a very direct and fascinating example of just how complicated and complex the intersections of race, art and language can be. Paul McCartney supporting Kanye's use of the word to Oprah is a new wrinkle in the "who's allowed to use that word" discussion that's been happening for decades now and is still burning bright.
I was originally going to focus this article on the piece of the interview where McCartney said, "I love Kanye...he is a crazy guy who comes up with great stuff," a compelling quote in its own right, but three cultural heavyweights colliding, coming together and pulling apart sent the wheels of my mind spinning too fast to pass up. Sometimes it really is bigger than hip-hop. This is one of those times.