I lived in Nashville when Kanye toured Pablo and attended his concert at the city’s Bridgestone Arena. He restarted "Famous" three times so we could sing this contentious line from the song multiple times in Taylor Swift’s hometown. I was hot and Obama was president; it was a beautiful time.
You have heard this shit hashed out countless times. Here’s what I will say: I find it deplorable, that Taylor, knowing that the world hated Kanye, was willing to play the victim to a Black man. She, in all her sweet white ignorance, was probably unaware of the way she was allowing the world to continue using white women as a tool to vilify Black men. It was like she saw the Lebron James Vogue cover and said, let me do you one better.
After Kanye's"Famous" drop, Taylor’s representative released a statement, according to Billboard and other outlets, saying, "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.'"
Taylor did not decline the Twitter release. Instead, she expressed an interest in playing with the song as a public relations trick and eventually revealing to the public that she had known about it all along. After she cited her approval, Kanye did promise that he would walk her through the finished song and they could talk out any issues she had. He never followed up on that promise, and so"I made her famous" turned into "I made that bitch famous." However, Taylor never contextualized what she did know about the song or any of the redeeming contents of the call. Instead, she focused on the Twitter aspect, which was a secondary topic accounting for a matter of seconds during a 20-minute conversation.
If being called a bitch was absolutely an issue for Taylor, which it rightly could have been, she could have been far more transparent on what she conceded to Yeezy. Instead, she deceived their fans by willfully excluding important information and allowed attitudes to harden even further toward the rapper. When Kanye's wife Kim Kardashian West released her recording of the call, the world was shocked. It was clear Taylor had misled the public at Kanye’s expense. While some took issue that Kanye recorded the conversation without her permission, it’s a shame Kanye had to record it at all to protect himself. During the call, Taylor thanks Kanye multiple times for respecting her enough to ask for her permission, but she didn’t respect him enough to be honest about it.
And then years later, Taylor reignited the controversy in the middle of pandemic with the release of the full version of the call. Variety published the full transcript, here. After the release, some accused Kim of doctoring her footage, but really she just posted the three pertinent minutes, instead of the full 20. Kanye defenders (on this one issue alone!) were surprised to see people erupt with praise for Taylor, as if the full recording changed the meaning of the call; however, the video offers ~literally~ no new or redeeming information. They’re all annoying, but Taylor is pretty morally culpable here. Kanye got a little out of pocket with the video for the song, but mans can't be the villain all the time. Sometimes the villain wears Red (is this a Taylor reference??).