The Controversy About Ice Spice & Taylor Swift's Collab: All The Drama Surrounding "Karma (Remix)"
Ice Spice is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after rappers right now. Ascending into the role of rap's newly-crowned princess, she's one of the few artists of her generation who can say they've landed co-signs from the biggest names in the industry - Drake, Nicki Minaj, and most recently, Taylor Swift. The latter enlisted the Bronx Baddie for the official remix of "Karma," landing on the second deluxe edition of Midnights. As you could imagine, it's a massive milestone for Ice Spice who didn't even break out into mainstream consciousness less than a year ago. It affirmed her position in pop culture and the grip that she gained since "Munch" permeated online lingo.
Unfortunately, not all fans celebrated the collaboration as a win for Ice Spice. Instead, many regarded the collaboration as an attempt for much-needed good PR in Taylor Swift's love life. Her rumored boyfriend, Matt Healy of The 1975 - a group Ice Spice once shouted out - found himself in hot water following a podcast appearance earlier this year. On The Adam Friedland Show in January, Healy, Friedland, and Nick Mullen chuckled over offensive jokes surrounding Ice Spice that many deemed both racist and misogynistic.
The song's announcement led to an immediate backlash, particularly among the Swifties, who highlighted Matt Healy's problematic behavior (including doing a N*zi salute at a concert). Sure, one could say that Taylor shouldn't be held accountable for someone else's actions but ultimately, many feel like she became complicit in her alleged boyfriend's antics since she hasn't condemned nor addressed Healy's behavior. Many felt as if it were a calculated decision to include Ice Spice on the remix to help sweep Healy's comments under the rug, hoping that people will forget.
The Adam Friedland Podcast & Matt Healy
Healy's no stranger to controversy but his appearance on The Adam Friedland Podcast alongside Nick Mullen was eye-opening, to say the least. The episode, which Spotify and Apple Music removed from their platforms (although still available on YouTube), included bits where The 1975 frontman fessed up about masturbating to videos of Black women being "brutalized" on hardcore abuse porn websites. Another bit that gained traction included Healy encouraging Mullen and Friedland to do impersonations of Japanese men working in concentration camps. Elsewhere in the episode, he admitted to DM'ing Ice Spice, leading to a highly offensive segment that joked about Ice Spice's ancestry while Mullen and Friedland mocked the accents of Hawaiian, Inuit, and Chinese people. The hosts referred to the Bronx rapper as "one of the Inuit Spice Girls," a "chubby Chinese lady," and "a f*cking Es**mo," while Healy giggled in the background.
Read More: Ice Spice & Taylor Swift Post Up On IG After The iHeartRadio Music Awards: Photos
The Apology & Retraction
Eventually, Healy addressed the matter during a concert where he sort-of apologized to Ice Spice. "I just feel a bit bad, and I'm kind of a bit sorry if I've offended you," Healy said. "Ice Spice, I'm sorry. It's not because I'm annoyed that me joking got misconstrued. It's because I don't want Ice Spice to think I'm a dick. I love you, Ice Spice. I'm so sorry."
However, the apology didn't necessarily stick, even after the release of "Karma (Remix)." During a recent interview with The New Yorker, Healy brushed off the criticism as well as those offended. "It doesn't actually matter. Nobody is sitting there at night slumped at their computer, and their boyfriend comes over and goes, 'What's wrong, darling?' and they go, 'It's just this thing with Matty Healy.' That doesn't happen," he said.
"If it does, you're either deluded or you are, sorry, a liar. You're either lying that you are hurt, or you're a bit mental for being hurt," he continued. "It's just people going, 'Oh, there's a bad thing over there, let me get as close to it as possible so you can see how good I am.' And I kind of want them to do that, because they're demonstrating something so base level." Arguably, it's a comment like this that reinforces the skepticism surrounding Taylor Swift's decision to work with Ice Spice.
Taylor Swift Announces "Karma (Remix)" Ft. Ice Spice
Anything Taylor Swift does becomes newsworthy in a matter of moments, and her commercial success is anything but a fluke. Taylor didn't need to get Ice Spice on "Karma," but in this instance, it certainly wouldn't hurt - or so she thought. Last week, Taylor Swift shared a heartfelt message on Twitter to confirm the speculation surrounding the "Karma (Remix)." "I'm a massive fan of this brilliant artist and after getting to know her I can confirm: she is THE ONE to watch," she tweeted, regurgitating a sentiment that rap circles have been preaching since last summer. "So delighted to say that Karma Featuring the incredible @icespicee_ will be out TOMORROW night at MIDNIGHT ET."
Without acknowledging her supposed relationship with Healy or his behavior, despite bringing him out on stage, the outrage began flowing through Twitter, understandably. In most cases, the Swifties are a loud enough group to drown out any negative commentary surrounding their Queen. Just not this time. For an artist who remained largely apolitical until 2018 (coincidentally, the same year Ye went full MAGA), many felt as though her decision to work with Ice Spice was rather disingenuous. The Twitter account @undercoverarmy4's response to the matter captures the feelings of many surrounding the collab. "Taylor Swift failing to address the racist comments Matt Healy made towards Ice Spice and then finding a way to profit off of her with a new collab is a textbook example of white woman feminism. It's convenient, manipulative and continues to shield and protect white men," the tweet reads.
Read More: Ebro Says "Ice Spice Don't Need Taylor"
Taylor Swift's Track Record
It was only months prior that her rumored boyfriend was involved in a widely inappropriate tirade targeting women and BIPOC groups. But a vocal minority have suggested that it's on-brand for Taylor - an artist who has been accused of treating inclusivity as the same sort of commodity as billion-dollar corporations. Although she gained fans from Kendrick Lamar and many other Black artists, she arguably hasn't proven to be a proponent of diversity until recent years. Meanwhile, fans quickly pointed out her own history of questionable behavior.
The Weeknd once alleged the pop singer, in a potential drunken stupor, began "kind of, like, petting my hair" - a demeaning act no matter how you try and spin it. Then in 2015, fans called her out for her purported victimhood in what seemed like an attempt to dismiss Nicki Minaj's complaints about racism in the music industry. Rather than acknowledging and rooting for a Black woman who felt the VMAs sidelined her, Taylor responded, "Maybe one of the men took your slots" when Nicki wasn't nominated for Best Video.
Moreover, Ice Spice appears to be one of the few (if not the only) Black women that Taylor Swift's collaborated with in her career. So, is it a genuine appreciation for an up-and-coming rapper or an opportunistic venture? Because even when she faced backlash from pop culture pundits for her entirely white, modelesque friend group in the past, she never really addressed it. Instead, she embarked on the 1989 tour where she brought on Fetty Wap, Chris Rock, Serena Williams, Mary J. Blige, and other Black icons on stage, as the Daily Beast pointed out.
"Karma (Remix)" Is A Hit?
Shortly after the song dropped, Taylor Swift performed at New Jersey's Met Life Stadium as part of The Eras tour. To the crowd's surprise, Ice Spice appeared on stage to perform the single for the first time ever, while Taylor also debuted the music video for the song. Ice Spice appeared lost the whole time, and we can't really blame her. She became accustomed to the uber-hype Rolling Loud crowds, not those of a pop singer. At least, not yet. Still, the Swifties ate it up - as they should, considering how much they spent on tickets. Regardless of Taylor's intentions, the "Karma (Remix)" is already a success. While it wouldn't be surprising if it tops the Billboard Hot 100 next week, it already helped Ice Spice break the record for the biggest streaming debut for a female rapper in Spotify history - a record previously held by Nicki Minaj.
Still, the "Karma (Remix)" is nothing that your average hip-hop head will be drooling over. Many feel that the bars are lackluster while calling Ice Spice's flow sleep-inducing. It lacks the viral meme value that propelled the success of "Boy's A Liar Pt. 2" and "Munch (Feelin' U)" to the top of the charts. But generally speaking, Ice Spice sounds just as out of place on "Karma (Remix)" as she did on stage at the Met Life Stadium. It's a crossover record that could very well open more doors for Ice Spice in the future, but in actuality, what does Taylor Swift actually benefit from it?
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