The Kanye West/Taylor Swift Saga Continues For All The Wrong Reasons
Kanye West and Taylor Swift were supposed to have buried the hatchet of their year-long spat that began in 2009 when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV VMAs. During the 2015 VMAs Swift presented West with the Video Vanguard Award and the artists have talked about the mutual respect they have for one another. But the track “Famous” from West’s new album, which he premiered at a massive fashion show-cum-listening party at Madison Square Garden, caused some stir with its lyrics referencing Taylor Swift.
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. / Why? I made that b– famous,” West raps on the track. The Chicago rapper took to Twitter on Friday morning to defend himself against the overnight backlash provoked by his lyrics. In an extensive Twitter rant, he shared his thoughts on feeling censored, how the lyric was, in fact, inspired by something Swift herself said and that he had her blessing in the process.
I did not diss Taylor Swift and I’ve never dissed her…
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 12, 2016
First thing is I’m an artist and as an artist I will express how I feel with no censorship — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 12, 2016
2nd thing I asked my wife for her blessings and she was cool with it — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 12, 2016
3rd thing I called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 12, 2016
6th Stop trying to demonize real artist Stop trying to compromise art — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 12, 2016
And while no one can deny West’s right to expressing himself in his artwork, it is difficult to tiptoe around the bigger problem here, one pointed out in a statement by Swift’s spokesperson, who claimed that Swift had “declined [to release the song on her Twitter account] and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message.”
West’s lyrics seem to imply that if it wasn’t for him, Swift would never have had such a successful career in the music business — a statement that sounds is not altogether surprising, knowing the rapper’s penchant for argumentativeness and controversy. West has managed to turn Swift’s whole squad perhaps permanently against him with this action and has disappointed a number of fans and friends in the process. The misogyny of the lyrics may not be the biggest issue here, however. It is rather the possible reason behind the decision to include this line in the first place.
Perhaps this line represents West’s truth. Perhaps he still harbors some genuinely negative feelings towards Swift and her success and is expressing his anger. West is entitled to his opinion. He is also entitled to sharing it “with not censorship,” as he points out, however outrageous it may seem at times. But there is another possibility — one not altogether shocking but highly problematic possibility that is coming true, regardless of the facts. Publicity.
If this is not as personal an attack as it appears and as West has made a case for in his tweets, it would appear that he is using the notoriety of his spat with Swift as a PR stunt. The mere allusion has already caused so much controversy and the media have taken up the story wholeheartedly. People have shared their opinions on the matter, mostly falling on Swift’s side, but in any case, West has succeeded in what was likely his plan all along — everyone is talking about him all over again even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
This kind of attitude is illustrated by the interlude on West’s 2011 track “N– in Paris” from his Jay Z collaboration Watch The Throne: “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative… It gets the people going!” The worst part is that such uncalled for actions merely detract from West’s merits as an artist. It is difficult for the audience to universally accept a truly great artist when his public persona is more often than not the center of such controversy. Some people may be giving West too much credit by believing that the rapper has put his year-long squabble with Swift behind him, but one thing is clear from his most recent appearances on the social media — he is seeking to provoke a scandal, even if it is at the expense of being the bad boy of showbusiness.