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Music

Paul McCartney backs Kanye West’s N-word use

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney performs on opening night of his 2016 One on One tour in Fresno, Calif.
(Steve Jennings / Getty)

In a new interview for the BBC Mastertapes series, Paul McCartney defended Kanye West’s use of racially volatile language in his single “All Day.”

McCartney recalled collaborating with West on the single, which featured a McCartney melody radically revised by West into a hard-hitting single that references hip-hop and grime. The song’s hook prominently uses the N-word in nearly every line, and McCartney said he’d faced some pushback over the tune, including from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.

“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 said. 

“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.”

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McCartney also expressed surprise at the direction the session took, as he didn’t expect much to come out of that particular day’s work. “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.’ ”

Their collaborations yielded several other singles of a markedly gentler tone, including “Four Five Seconds” and “Only One.”

Fans can watch the video version of the interview here, and the full interview is scheduled to be broadcast on the BBC on May 28.

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