Taylor Swift almost got away with it. She almost scammed Kimye, their fans, her own fans, and the world at large. But she just had to tell on herself. The first rule of going out of your way to scheme is that it's essential — nay, crucial — to remember every lie you tell. And that's exactly what Swift didn't do. Sometime between the day "Famous" dropped and Sunday night, when Kim Kardashian leaked the Snapchat heard 'round the world, Swift's narrative curiously (and conveniently) changed. First, everything about the audio leaked by Kim Lannister (née Kardashian West) is tantamount to an approval from Swift. Kanye read Swift the lyric that implies his 2009 VMA outburst made her famous and insinuates they might still sleep together. "It's awesome that you're so outspoken about this and be like, ‘Yeah, she does. It made her famous,'" Swift can be heard saying in the audio. "It's more provocative to say 'might still have sex…' There's not like one [lyric] that hurts my feelings and one that doesn't." But in the wake of the song's release, when Swift won Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammy Awards, she changed her tune. "There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," she said, in a thinly veiled diss aimed at Kanye. In a defensive Instagram post Monday morning, the singer tried to squeak by on a technicality: She never heard the final cut, never knew he was going to refer to her as "that bitch," never gave her approval. So, according to her narrative, she never lied.
Here's the thing about Kanye's lyric: There are levels to it. First, he implies that he made Taylor Swift famous. Second, he asserts that they might still have sex because of it. And third, he refers to her as a bitch. In Swift's transparent about-face, she's pivoted from being publicly offended by the first and second parts, to being deeply upset about the third. There's no doubt that much of Kanye's life — both artistically and personally, especially in his continued hostility toward Amber Rose — is steeped in misogyny. The audio that Kim leaked, however, shows that arguably the most anti-feminist, regressive, offensive line in the song (that Kanye might sleep with Swift because she owes her fame to him) is the one that Swift was most excited about. After Kim dished to GQ that audio of the call existed and was in her possession, Swift's lawyers responded with a little nuance that could fit a more flexible truth. "Taylor has never denied that conversation took place. It was on that phone call that Kanye West also asked her to release the song on her Twitter account, which she declined to do," they said, in a statement to the magazine. "Kanye West never told Taylor he was going to use the term ‘that bitch’ in referencing her. A song cannot be approved if it was never heard. Kanye West never played the song for Taylor Swift. Taylor heard it for the first time when everyone else did and was humiliated." Hmm. Okay.