"Famous" at the 2016 Paradise International Music Festival
This past weekend at the Paradise International Music Festival in Manila, Kanye West performed a few songs off his latest album, The Life of Pablo, including "Famous," the lead single, for the first time ever. After the crowd sang along with Rihanna's intro (which is a cover of Nina Simone), Kanye rapped the now-infamous opening lines: "For all my Southside n*ggas that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why?" Crowd: "YOU MADE THAT BITCH FAMOUS!!!"
Toward the end of the song, Kanye began to cool down and get introspective. After singing the final lyrics -- "I just wanted you to know," a sample of the actual Nina Simone -- Kanye continued speaking. "What I wanted you to know the whole time," he told the awestruck audience, "in the spirit of Nina Simone, in the spirit of real artists: This is the song that broke the writer's block for me."
He went on to reveal that his notorious run-in with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs had haunted him for years, until he was finally able to come to terms with his attempt to speak the truth when no one else would -- to say "what everybody else was thinking" -- with the recording of "Famous."
He emotionally thanked the Filipino crowd for its overwhelming response to the live debut of "Famous," before politely asking if he could perform the track one more time. Their answer was obvious.