America’s king of unhinged rants has reignited his feud with America’s queen of image control. On Kanye West’s new album The Life of Pablo, which he premiered at Thursday night’s Yeezy Season 3 event at Madison Square, the rapper drops a line that conjures memories of his 2009 VMA disruption: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. / Why? I made that bitch famous.”
The lyric comes from “Famous,” a duet with Rihanna, and it didn’t sit well with Swift fans. Her brother, Austin, Instagrammed himself throwing his West-designed Yeezy sneakers into the garbage; others spoke out for Swift on Twitter:
Kanye defended himself with his usual tiresome babble, calling the lyric “art.” “First thing is I’m an artist and as an artist I will express how I feel with no censorship,” he tweeted. “2nd thing I asked my wife for her blessings and she was cool with it. 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.” Swift came up with the idea, he said, and “Bitch is an endearing term in hip hop like the word Nigga” so everyone’s just misinterpreting his artwork, which he cribbed from a conversation he heard about secondhand.
On Thursday night, Swift’s publicist issued a statement that contradicts West’s account: “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.’”
It hardly bears mentioning that West didn’t make Swift famous—Swift made Swift famous. West has made himself famous, too and this is how he does it: by tweeting incendiary, unbalanced outbursts about Bill Cosby’s innocence and Wiz Khalifa’s pants and Amber Rose and her son. Watching an artist who once provided real social commentary detach from any remaining cables holding him to earth and become completely consumed by his own borderline personality is sad. Watching him try to drag a more successful woman with him is worse.