Paul McCartney defends Kanye West’s use of the N-word

Sir Paul McCartney openly defended Kanye West’s gratuitous use of the n-word when the former Beatle spoke to BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes host John Wilson.

The legendary musician, who collaborated with West on “All Day,” expounded on the younger man’s ability to flip seemingly nothing into a powerful track, discussed the predictable condemnation of West’s use of the divisive word in the track, and addressed Oprah’s noseturning. Watch the segment below.

After learning of and accepting Ye’s request to work with him, McCartney played a few chords, none of which he thought would turn into anything. But later, he said, “I get this track back, a thing called ‘All Day.’ [He’s] taken my melody and he’s made it seriously urban, which is funny because the lyrics use the N-word—a lot! ‘How long have you been at the mall? All day, n-word.’”

“People like Oprah, who are a little conservative about that stuff, she says, ‘You shouldn’t do it, even black people shouldn’t use that word,’” McCartney continued. “I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s Kanye!’ And he’s talking about an urban generation that uses that word in a completely different way. It’s the context. So I was actually pleased with it.”

The BBC will broadcast McCartney’s full interview at 10am EST on May 28.

Oprah has a history of frustration with the vernacular of hip-hop music, which does sometimes include sensitive language like the n-word. She and Jay-Z clashed over the issue on her show.

In the videos below, Oprah discusses the subject with Russell Simmons, music executive Kevin Liles, rapper/living legend Common, and civil-right leader Ben Chavis.

The thing is, people remember when you criticize things you’ve chosen not to understand.

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.