Kanye West makes the bold claim on his latest album The Life of Pablo that his 2009 MTV Video Music Awards rant against the then established country/pop star Taylor Swift actually helped elevate her to the pop princess status she enjoys today.
“For all my southside n**gas that know me best, I feel like my and Taylor might still have sex cuz I made that b**ch famous,” raps Kanye on “Famous” from 2016’s The Life of Pablo.
Many fans of Kanye will blindly accept this line and conversations at the barber shop will see the young generation including it as one of the rapper/producers greatest accomplishments. Making Taylor Swift the star that she is today is nothing to bat an eye at, but is there any truth to Kanye’s claim made on the opening bar of his new song?
We first have to go back to the beginning of Kanye’s rap career to see why he may have said such a thing and if this is a predictable pattern in his personality.
Mr. West has been known to rant in the past (see 2005 news clip where he declares that president George Bush doesn’t like black people) which is why I don’t understand why his fans are so surprised at how he behaves today. His personality hasn’t changed much since his debut in 2004. I remember watching a documentary that year where Kanye called himself a “super hip-hop rapper” on the level of Jay-Z which at the time he really wasn’t. That year he only had one album under his belt, ‘The College Dropout’ which had great sales and critical acclaim. Despite his newcomer status, he still used his confidence/arrogance to elevate himself past his current situation and this is a technique he still uses brilliantly today. It’s just been amplified in recent years with social media outlets like Twitter.
Fans enamored with the nearly flawless catalogue of music Kanye has put out will buy into many of the things he says simply because of his track record. But let’s examine this one line more closely.
West is referring to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards where he rushed the stage after Swift won for Video of the Year for her song ‘You Belong With Me.’ The rapper, who was dating stripper Amber Rose at the time interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech by inferring that she did not deserve the award and that it should go to his friend Jay-Z’s (sorry I’m never not putting the hyphen) wife Beyonce for her “Single Ladies” smash.
“Yo Taylor. I’m really happy for you. I’m a let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time,” declared West to a roaring VMA crowd back in 2009.
Both Taylor and Beyonce were shocked, and the queen of the BeyHive even tried to make amends for the interruption by bringing Swift out later that night to give the acceptance speech that she wasn’t able to finish when she actually won earlier in the evening.
The incident put both Kanye West and Taylor Swift in the headlines of various websites and tabloids and basically launched the villainess persona that people know Kanye for today. It definitely let rap fans know who Taylor Swift was, but did she really need the extra attention?
At the time, her album “Fearless” was not only the highest selling album of that year moving nearly 6,000,000 units, but was also acclaimed by music critics and worshipped by teenage girls. Her song “You Belong With Me” could have basically been heard anywhere at the time including supermarkets or ice skating rinks. Kanye’s music didn’t exactly fit the the mold for those types of places so she definitely had an advantage. Swift was clearly a household name before the rant and at the age of 20, she had bested West in terms of sales with any one particular album. Not to mention she was all over MTV and had garnered enough fame to pick up the Video of the Year Award so early in her career. Beyonce was already on her third album at the time and was starting to enjoy veteran status where young Swift was still a bit of a newbie.
Kanye had just come off the release of his auto-tuned blues album 808s and Heartbreak and was setting up to release what I believe is his magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. His 2010 masterpiece was darker than any of the rapper’s previous work and showed a side of the him that was less conscious, more misogynistic and self-admittedly an asshole (peep Runaway). The incident with Taylor was the perfect setup for this new Kanye West sound. That person was always visible in the media, but now it was safe for Mr. West to bring him out in the music since the public had finally accepted him that way.
So Kayne West definitely did not make Taylor Swift famous by ranting on stage in 2009. In fact, I believe the incident had very little effect on her career. It actually had a positive effect on Kayne’s career at the time and helped him release one of the greatest albums off all time.
Now let’s get to more important questions like did Havoc and Swiss Beats actually collaborate on the beat for “Famous?”