Kanye West may have taken some “poetic license” with a reference on his latest record to former CIA director George Tenet, but Tenet’s camp confirms to Danger Room that the rap star did in fact meet with the one-time U.S. spy chief.
On “Clique,” a standout track from this week’s Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer, Yeezy relates an anecdote so unexpected and specific that it had several listeners suspending disbelief about rapper boasts: “Yeah, I’m talking business, we talking CIA/ I’m talking George Tenet, I seen him the other day/ He asked me about my Maybach, think he had the same/ Except mine tinted and his might have been rented.”
Verdict: partly true. To adapt the chorus for a second, George Tenet really was, uh, interacting with the clique. “There is some truth to that story,” longtime Tenet spokesman Bill Harlow tells Danger Room. That’s a better track record than most rappers can claim — and, for that matter, most CIA analysts.
Harlow explains that a “few months ago,” Tenet was leaving a business meeting in a New York City building when, unexpectedly, Kanye West entered. “They bumped into each other,” Harlow said, and someone in the various entourages introduced the rapper to the former intelligence chief, who left government service in 2004 after infamously vouching for the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“They chatted briefly,” Harlow says. “The next thing you know, it’s recorded history.” This should add grist to the online conspiracy theory that Kanye is a member of the Illuminati.
Only one thing: “There was no discussion of Maybachs,” Harlow says. Tenet doesn’t drive one — rented, leased, owned or otherwise. (Notice, however, that Kanye doesn’t claim Tenet has one; he merely speculates.)
Not that the ex-CIA director’s crew has a problem with Kanye’s characterization: “I think it’s poetic license.” Nor is Tenet inclined to fact-check a rap song. “It’s not his genre,” Harlow continues. “He’s more of a Bruce Springsteen guy.”
Still, now Tenet is immortalized in pop culture as a baller, without any reference to Iraq or WMDs.
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