Taylor Swift Rep Disputes Report That She Okayed Kanye West’s “Famous” Lyric

Yesterday afternoon, Kanye West gave us the grand unveiling of his new (and still-unreleased) album The Life Of Pablo at Madison Square Garden. And one of the big stories coming out of it — one that honestly threatens to overshadow everything else — is Kanye’s line, on “Famous,” about Taylor Swift: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that bitch famous.” There are conflicting reports this morning, but it looks as though Swift heard some version of the song before Kanye played it for the world. But was she okay with it? That’s the question.

In the years since West famously interrupted Swift as she was receiving a VMA in 2009, West and Swift have become friendly. They’ve had dinner together and talked about collaborating, and Swift presented West with his MTV Video Vanguard Award last year. So how venomous, exactly, was that line intended to be?

TMZ says that sources close to Swift claim that she was okay with it. That site reports that West called Swift beforehand, explaining that the line was a joke and making sure she didn’t mind. Quoth TMZ: “We’re told Swift said she got the joke and gave him the thumbs up to release the song with the lyric.”

But The New York Times pop critic Jon Caramanica tells a different story. On his Instagram, he posted a quote from Swift’s reps, claiming that Swift was emphatically not okay with the line:

FYI re Kanye/Taylor/"Famous" aka mom and dad broke up again

A photo posted by joncaramanica (@joncaramanica) on

Meanwhile, Swift’s brother Instagrammed a video of himself throwing a pair of Yeezy Boosts in the garbage:

Getting a head start on some spring cleaning. Here we go again.

A video posted by Austin Swift (@austinkingsleyswift) on

To my mind, Caramanica’s report is more credible and believable. But even if Swift did agree to laugh the line off, this was still a world-class dick move on West’s part. For one thing, Swift was demonstrably already famous before West made her famous. She’d sold millions of records, and, from a pure commercial standpoint, was a more popular artist than West at that point. And for another, this is a deeply shitty way to talk about another human being, whether or not you’ve become friendly with her. The crazy thing, to me, is the idea that he actually asked her to tweet the song. The nerve on that guy! There was no way for her to win in this situation.

The Life Of Pablo is, on first listen, such a beautiful and fully-realized piece of work. And based on West’s history, his moments of ethical dubiousness tend to fade away, leaving only the force of his artistic accomplishments. But between this and the Bill Cosby tweet, we’re seeing some of the worst of West, just as we’re hearing the best.

UPDATE: Kanye has gone on another tweet-spree, defending the line and claiming that he ran it by both Swift and his wife Kim Kardashian. He even says that the line was based on Swift’s own idea: