REWIND: Kanye West, Justin Timberlake And The Sub-Disses No One Claims

On this edition of Rewind, we look at the sub-disses heard around the world between Kanye West and Justin Timberlake. Also, how did Senator Marco Rubio use Jay-Z‘s lyrics to make a point about drone strikes and presidential power?

When Justin Timberlake hit the SNL stage as the special guest and musical performer this past weekend, he added another dimension to his music. The singer replaced a line in his hit “Suit & Tie” that was reported by many outlets as a coded diss aimed at Kanye West.

Timberlake swapped his usual line, “S*** so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit,” for this one: “My hit’s so sick, got rappers acting dramatic”

But Timberlake was presumably responding to a Kanye West rant from February, in which West name-checked “Suit And Tie.”

“I got love for Hov, but I ain’t f*****’ with that ‘Suit & Tie,’” West said. While Kanye’s words fell within the context of a tirade against businessmen imposing on his art, it was not entirely clear if that was a diss directed at Timberlake.

And when Justin was on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, he continued to play coy.

“Did it seem that way? I don’t remember that? Did I change a line? It is live,” Timberlake said. “You know, really everyone keep calm. Keep calm… For the record I absolutely love Kanye. So, there’s that. We love Kanye, right?”

But lyrics are at the center of more than a debate about who was dissing whom. Old Jay-Z lyrics found their way into an important debate on drone attacks.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL.) called up rap lyrics from Jay-Z during a long-winded filibuster that took place for nearly 13 hours last week.

The filibuster, was spearheaded by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who talked for hours and held up the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan in order to bring attention to the policies surrounding the government’s use of drone air strikes against American citizens. Sen. Rubio joined the talk-marathon with a few lyrics at the ready.

“That takes me back to another moden day poet by the name of Jay-Z,” he continued. “In one of his songs he wrote, ‘It’s funny what seven days can change, it was all good just a week ago.’ I don’t know if it was all good but I can tell you things have really changed.”

To be sure, the specific Jay-Z lyrics cited were originally placed in a song about a person who snitched on his criminal partner and is now at odds with his friend for violating the no-snitching street code.

“Funny what seven days can change,” Jay-Z raps, “A stand up n****, now you sit down to aim/ Used to have a firm grip now you droppin’ names/ (It was all good just a week ago)”

What did these lyrics have to do with the drone debate? That never became clear, but things have changed, for sure.

More from Erik Parker

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