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Taylor Swift, Ice Spice collaboration faces backlash over Matty Healy controversy

Ice Spice, left, presents an award to Taylor Swift
Ice Spice, left, and Taylor Swift — seen at this year’s iHeartRadio Music Awards — will collaborate on the song “Karma” for the deluxe edition of Swift’s “Midnights.”
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)
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Taylor Swift’s surprise Ice Spice collaboration on the deluxe version of her “Midnights” album is raising some eyebrows.

Following Wednesday’s announcement that the “Munch” rapper would be featured on Swift’s “Karma,” fans of both artists criticized the collaboration. That’s because of Swift’s association with Matty Healy, the frontman of English band the 1975.

In January, Healy disparaged Ice Spice while he was a guest on a podcast. Healy has been romantically linked to Swift since early May and has made many appearances at her Eras tour, including one onstage. Neither has confirmed a romantic relationship.

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Healy mocked Ice Spice’s ethnicity on “The Adam Friedland Show,” laughing at the hosts’ jokes speculating about the New York rapper‘s ethnicity. Nick Mullen and Friedland, who are both comics, called her an “Inuit spice girl” and a “chubby Chinese lady” and imitated Hawaiian and Chinese accents. (Ice Spice is Nigerian and Dominican.)

In the same podcast, Healy egged on jokes about Japanese incarceration during World War II by encouraging the hosts to mock Japanese accents before joining in and joking about masturbating to a video of a woman “getting, like, brutalized” on a porn website that prominently features Black women.

In April, Healy (kind of) apologized to Ice Spice during the band’s performance in Auckland, New Zealand, saying his apology was “not because I’m annoyed that me joking got misconstrued. It’s because I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m a d—. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m so sorry.”

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Fans were quick to note that Ice Spice will be the first Black woman on one of Swift’s songs.

“first collab with a black woman ever because your man a racist who used racist terminology in reference to the person you’re collaborating with... very [calculated] miss swift,” @CTRLZA tweeted.

Swift’s fans had been speaking up in opposition to her involvement with the frontman’s recent behavior.

Swift tweeted Wednesday that she was “so delighted” to have Ice Spice on the track and that she is “a massive fan of this brilliant artist and after getting to know her I can confirm: she is THE ONE to watch.”

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Spice, born Isis Naija Gaston, quote tweeted in response, saying, “sweetest person ever thank u sm i love yuuuu,” punctuated with a heart-eye emoji, purple heart emoji and heart-hands emoji.

“Not Taylor Swift teaming up with Ice Spice for a collab gotta get that damage control in for Matty Healy, “ Twitter user @emilyjslade wrote.

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A week ago, the now-deleted account, @SpeakUpNow_13, wrote a statement on behalf of concerned fans about Swift’s association with Healy, 34. The statement calls on Swift to: “Use your platform responsibly and intentionally. Advocate for inclusivity, celebrate diversity, and promote empathy and understanding.”

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“#SpeakUpNow, “ the hashtag associated with the statement, has been tagged in more than 1 million videos on TikTok. The tweet comes nearly two weeks after Swift announced the release of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” and uses the same font, color and style of the card she posted to social media.

Citing “racist remarks, making offensive jokes, and admitting to watching degrading pornography,” the post says Healy and, by proxy, Swift “contribute to the perpetuation of hate, stereotypes and objectification which targets and hurts” Swifties of marginalized backgrounds, “including Jewish, Black, Chinese, Hawaiian, Inuit, LGBTQ+ communities and women.”

In January, Healy faced backlash for doing a Nazi salute during a live performance of the 1975’s song “Love It If We Made It.”

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Over the weekend, Swift told concertgoers in Foxborough, Mass., that she’s “never been this happy ... before” — prompting some to speculate that the source of her newfound happiness is her alleged romance with Healy, who has been dubbed “Ratty Healy” by his detractors.

“It’s not just the tour,” Swift told the audience. “My life finally feels like it makes sense.” Fans were quick to react.

“the fact that she’s openly saying this, while simultaneously sidelining her POCs fans with her association with that man is… a choice,” @ynkookgo tweeted. “honest to god. what is wrong with her?

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“It’s heartbreaking to see such kind of emotionless cruel behaviour,” @s13561835 tweeted. “it’s now proved Taylor swift is privileged white woman who don’t care about other emotions, for such people racism and such issues are little how cruel. She is now showing her true face.”

Taylor Swift did not respond immediately to The Times’ request for comment.

Times staff writers Christi Carras and Alexandra Del Rosario contributed to this report.

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