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Kanye West at Yeezy Season 3
Kanye West at Yeezy Season 3via Tumblr.com

Kanye West responds to criticism over Taylor Swift lyrics

‘I’m an artist and as an artist I will express how I feel without censorship’

Last night, Kanye West finally gave the public a listen to his much-anticipated seventh album The Life of Pablo, which he debuted at Madison Square Garden in conjunction with the unveiling of Yeezy Season 3.

Of course, in typical Yeezy style, the event didn’t go down without a bit of drama, and he caught criticism for the questionable lyrics in his track “Famous”, where he raps: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that bitch famous.” Sure, the lyrics might have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it seems like an odd jibe to direct towards Swift, especially since he famously interrupted her acceptance speech at 2009’s MTV VMA Awards.

While it was initially suggested that Swift had received a heads up about the derogatory lyrics, and had given her blessing, a representative for the singer has since refuted those claims in a statement (below), 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 aware of the actual lyric ‘I made that bitch famous.’”

However, Kanye has since waded in on Twitter to say that she did know about the lyrics and that, bizarrely, she’d actually come up with them herself. “I’ve not dissed Taylor Swift and I’ve never dissed her…” he wrote, adding: “First thing is I’m an artist and as an artist I will express how I feel with no censorship… 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 (sic) with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings… 4th Bitch is an endearing term in hip hop like the word Nigga.” He then went on to say, “5th thing I’m not even gone (sic) take credit for the idea…it’s actually something Taylor came up with…”

What do you think? Are offensive lyrics acceptable under the guise of artistic expression? Should Kanye be allowed to shame women as a form of creative freedom? His comments relating to freedom of expression are particularly relevant when looking at the meaning of his album name The Life of Pablo – a name that acts as a nod to feeling like notorious criminal Pablo Escobar when he’s in the news, but like respected artist Pablo Picasso when he’s being creative. “Stop trying to demonize real artist. Stop trying to compromise art (sic)” he wrote, alluding to feeling attacked. Although, as ever, it’s hard to sympathise when it feels like he so stubbornly invites it.

Read Kanye’s tweets in their entirety below:

Update: Kanye West has since uploaded a previously unheard track to Soundcloud ahead of the album’s official release. Listen below.