Taylor Swift critics are accusing the pop star of “performative activism” after she recorded a remix of her song “Karma” with rapper Ice Spice, who has been the subject of Swift’s rumored lover Matty Healy’s insensitive conversations.
“I’m a massive fan of this brilliant artist and after getting to know her I can confirm: she is THE ONE to watch,” the pop star said about Ice Spice in a tweet Wednesday. “Sweetest person ever thank u sm,” Ice Spice replied in a quote tweet.
The collaboration comes amid swirling rumors that Swift and Healy, the lead singer of the 1975, are dating. Some fans are skeptical of her decision to work with Ice Spice after Healy faced backlash for agreeing with racist comments made about Ice Spice in a February podcast.
Here’s the Taylor Swift-Ice Spice-Matty Healy drama, explained:
What did Matty Healy say about Ice Spice?
While a guest on “The Adam Friedland Show” in February, Healy laughed as the two podcast hosts, Friedland and Nick Mullen, made fun of Ice Spice using derogatory terms about her body and ethnicity, calling her an “Inuit Spice Girl,” and “chubby Chinese lady,” while using contrived Chinese and Hawaiian accents to mimic her.
In the episode, which was deleted from Spotify and Apple Music, Ice Spice was mentioned by Healy, who said he tried to message the rapper on Instagram. When Healy was asked by the hosts, who are known for their racially insensitive jokes, if she sounds the way they mimicked her, he told them, “Yeah, that’s what Ice Spice is like” and then called her “dumb.” Later in the episode, Healy asked the hosts to do impressions of Japanese people working in concentration camps and did a Japanese accent himself.
Healy later apologized after facing backlash in April while performing a concert in Auckland, New Zealand. He told the audience: “I just feel a bit bad, and I’m kind of a bit sorry if I’ve offended you,” he 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 d---. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m so sorry.”
Before the now-deleted podcast, Ice Spice, who is Dominican and Nigerian, had expressed her love for Healy’s band the 1975 in a January video for Elle.
Representatives for Healy and Ice Spice didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Swift’s team declined to comment on the record.
Why are people upset with Taylor Swift?
The singer, who is currently traveling the country on her Eras tour, has been friends with Ice Spice. In March, Swift wrapped the “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2” rapper in a hug onstage at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Swift has not commented on the controversial statements made by Healy, who she’s also been spotted hanging out with in recent weeks.
Some pop music fans have accused her of staying quiet on important social and political issues, such as LGBTQ rights, and publicly taking a stance only when it’s convenient for her.
Swift didn’t publicly comment on politics until 2018, when she named two Democratic candidates on Instagram she would be supporting in that year’s midterm election. When Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) ran for the Senate, Swift condemned her stance against LGBTQ rights and voting record against the Violence Against Women Act, which addresses domestic violence and stalking.
“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent,” she wrote on Instagram in 2018.
The music video for her 2019 hit song “You Need to Calm Down,” which was made in support of the LGBTQ community, was met with backlash, as some fans said it featured stereotypical depictions of gay people while she financially benefited during Pride Month. (At the time, she did also make a “very generous” donation to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the advocacy group said.)
Some Swifties have come to her support over the years, arguing that she’s a musician not an activist, and isn’t responsible for making a statement about every human rights issue — or every problematic statement her friends or partners say.
Who is Matty Healy?
Healy is the lead singer of the 1975, a British alternative band known for songs such as “Chocolate,” “Somebody Else” and “The Sound.” The group was named band of the decade by British news outlet NME in 2020, has won four Brit Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for “Give Yourself a Try.”
Healy’s behavior has raised eyebrows before. Fans have expressed discomfort with his practice of kissing fans onstage, even if it’s consensual. He was accused of using the Black Lives Matter movement to promote the band’s song “Love It if We Made It” in a deleted tweet, according to Variety. While performing the song last January, he was accused of being antisemitic after he appeared to do a Nazi salute while singing the lyric, “Thank you, Kanye, very cool.” (Kanye West, also known as Ye, has come under fire for his own antisemitism.)
And Healy told the Fader in 2018 that “misogyny doesn’t happen in rock and roll anymore,” although he later tweeted out an apology. “I was simplifying a complex issue without the right amount of education on the subject,” he said.
Who is Ice Spice?
Ice Spice, whose real name is Isis Gaston, is a rapper from the Bronx who has exploded in popularity in the last year. She’s known for TikTok-famous songs such as “Munch (Feelin’ U),” and the pink-centric “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2.,” which she worked on with PinkPantheress.
Known for her Annie-esque red hair, Ice Spice’s songs have often been used as the backdrop to popular TikTok dances. She started rapping while a college student at State University of New York at Purchase.
Is Taylor Swift actually dating Matty Healy?
Swift and Healy haven’t publicly confirmed or denied dating rumors. But many Swifties are convinced they’re romantically linked.
In addition to Swift and Healy musically collaborating — performing at each other’s concerts and making unreleased “Midnights” songs — the pair were seen holding hands this month, and fans have speculated that they mouthed the same words — “This is about you. You know who you are. I love you” — during their concerts one night apart.