How and when black people use the N-word has been a point of contention forever, as we saw most recently with Larry Wilmore at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Oprah is notoriously not a fan, to the point where she doesn’t allow anyone to use the word in her presence. So she especially wasn’t happy to hear it in a song featuring a Beatle. In an interview for the BBC’s Mastertapes series, Paul McCartney says Oprah once gave him a stern talking-to over Kanye’s fondness for the N-word in “All Day.” Originally, even Macca was taken aback by how frequently Kanye says it. “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,’” he says. It ruffled Oprah’s feathers so much, she tried to get Macca to dissociate himself from the song, which repurposes an old McCartney outtake.
“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.’ 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.’”
In Macca’s defense, “Yeah, but it’s Kanye” is a valid excuse for pretty much anything Kanye does. And ultimately, “All Day” didn’t make Kanye’s The Life of Pablo — sparing Oprah at least 75 more “niggas.” Watch McCartney’s interview, in which he calls Kanye an “eccentric monster,” below.