September 23, 2020

Kanye West Needs Taylor Swift

Stars, they’re not like us at all. Except for when it comes to loving drama.

By now, if you care about either Taylor Swift or Kanye West, you have sought out the full transcript of their phone call regarding West’s The Life of Pablo song “Famous,” a snippet of which Kim Kardashian leaked via Snapchat in 2016. Here’s the short of it: Swift expressed rightful disgust at the song’s most controversial lyric—“I made that b***h famous”—which she claimed West never warned her about in their phone call. When Kardashian leaked part of their conversation, many took it as proof that Swift was lying. But West didn’t mention the line in question in Kardashian’s clip, and indeed, the full transcript obtained by Variety shows that he said nothing about calling Swift a “b***h” while they were on the phone.

The newly vindicated Swift addressed the transcript diplomatically on her Instagram story, while Kardashian attempted to dismantle her argument and defend herself and her husband in a Twitter tirade. Just another day in the lives of the rich and famous. But for Kardashian to suggest that “honestly, nobody cares” about her and West’s ongoing feud with Swift is a tremendous miscalculation. Millions of fans care. Swift cares. Kardashian cares. West especially cares—because he needs Swift.

Since West released The College Dropout in 2004, his reputation for paradigm-shifting music has been matched only by his insatiable appetite for controversy. West doesn’t just need Swift; he needs anyone who can function as either a target or conduit for his outrage. Over the years, that list has included George W. Bush, Amber Rose, Nike, Donald Trump, and of course, Swift. Sometimes West’s outbursts align with his fans’ values, and they place him on a pedestal as a genius and spokesperson for the culture. Sometimes they’re baseless provocations that are just too loud to ignore. Either way, when it comes to courting controversy, West has always been a shameless opportunist who makes brilliant music—sometimes because of these feuds, sometimes in spite of them.

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