Kanye West has spoken out at what he considers the "exploitation" of Britney Spears by MTV.
The US rapper accused the broadcaster, which lined up Britney to perform at its Video Music Awards at the weekend, of seeking to boost its ratings by getting the struggling star on stage.
Critics have savaged the Oops I Did It Again singer, variously calling her performance of her new single, Gimme More, "wooden" and "lacklustre" among other less-gracious epithets.
And the 25-year-old was subject to more unwanted headlines after the show when she was photographed without underwear having previously promised not to be snapped pantless again after two earlier knicker-misdemeanours.
But West, who hosted a 'suite party' in Las Vegas and was nominated for five gongs, has offered his support to Britney.
"[MTV] were just trying to get ratings, and they knew she wasn't ready and they exploited her," the rapper told Sirius Satellite Radio.
"They exploited her, they played me and I really don't mess with MTV."
The 29-year-old rapper also spoke out about the decision to get him to perform his new single, Stronger, in a suite rather than on the main stage.
"So why do you have me do Stronger in a suite, but you end the show with Justin?" he added, referring to the curtain closer by Timbaland, featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, who had also led proceedings at a suite party.
West is currently locked in a battle for US rap supremacy after he released his album, Graduation, on the same day as 50 Cent put out his new record, Curtis, both in the US and UK.
Early figures suggest West is winning the chart battle.