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When Kanye West interrupted Tayor Swift during her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, the world of music and pop culture was forever changed. The aftermath? A decade-long feud filled with apologies, disses, cryptic lyrics and snake emojis. “I feel like I wasn’t ready to be friends with him until I felt like he had some sort of respect for me, and he wasn’t ready to be friends with me until he had some sort of respect for me — so it was the same issue, and we both reached the same place at the same time,” Swift told Vanity Fair in 2015.
While they may have reached a level of respect in 2015, that went down the drain a year later when West called Swift a “b***h” in his song “Famous,” and another vicious he-said-she-said cycle began.
Here is a definitive timeline of the musicians’ head-spinning feud:
September 13, 2009: West interrupts Swift’s VMAs speech
At the 2009 MTV VMAs, Swift wins Best Female Video Award for “You Belong With Me.” As she begins her speech, West jumps up on the stage and takes over the mic: “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”
West was referring to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” music video, and by the time he’s done spouting off his protests, Swift has no time to finish her thank you speech. Needless to say, when cameras shoot over to Beyoncé’s face, she looks horrified.
Ten years later, details have now emerged that P!nk verbally assaulted West for his onstage antics during the show’s commercial break, while Beyoncé cried backstage out of guilt for how hurt Swift must have been. Later that night when she won Video of the Year, Beyoncé invited Swift up to the stage to finish her speech.
West later apologized for his actions that night on his blog.
September 21, 2009: West apologizes for a second time
West tearfully admits he done the pop star wrong on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: “I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong and it wasn’t a spectacle, it’s actually someone’s emotions that I stepped on. It was rude, period. I’d like to apologize to her in person.”
September 12, 2010: Swift sings her West-inspired song “Innocent” at the VMAs
Swift took the VMA stage one year later her to debut her song “Innocent,” where she seemingly accepts West’s apologies: “It’s okay, life is a tough crowd /Thirty-two and still growin’ up now / Who you are is not what you did / You’re still an innocent.” Her performance includes clips of the now-infamous interruption.
June 2013: West takes back his apology
Blaming peer pressure, West rescinds his apology, telling The New York Times, “I don’t have one regret,” and that his jumping and interrupting her on the stage “only led [me] to awesome truth and awesomeness.”
February 8, 2015: West and Swift hug it out
Despite his backtracking, it seems that West and Swift become besties, taking pics at the 57th Grammy Awards. In fact, with Swift having transitioned from country to pop with the release of her album 1989, there were rumors that the pair was planning a collaboration. “She wants to get in the studio and we’re definitely going to go in,” West told Ryan Seacrest. “I don’t have an elitism about music, I don’t discriminate.”
April 29, 2015: Swift says she ‘respects’ West
Swift confirms that a potential collaboration is in the works, telling ET that West has “a lot of amazing ideas.” “He’s one of those people that’s just like idea, idea, idea,” Swift added. “We’ve talked about it, but we’ve also talked about so many other things…I completely respect him as a producer. So, that’s all I know now.”
August 30, 2015: Swift honors West at the VMAs
At the VMAs, Swift presents West with the Video Vanguard award. “I’ve been a fan of his for as long as I can remember because Kanye defines what it means to be a creative force in music, fashion and, well, life,” she said. “So, I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight, I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time.”
West later sends Swift the “coolest flowers” and she jokes that she’ll be his running mate when he runs for president in 2020.
February 11, 2016: West calls Swift a ‘b***h’ in his new song
With the release of “Famous” from his album The Life of Pablo, West tears up the old wound between the two, rapping: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b***h famous.”
West claimed the lyrics were Taylor approved: “I called Taylor and had an hour-long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.”
But Swift’s rep clapped back, claiming that the pop star “cautioned [Kanye] about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that b***h famous.’”
February 15, 2016: Swift sends West a message during her Grammy acceptance speech
While accepting her Grammy for Album of the Year, the pop singer tells the world, “I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments and your fame.”
“But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world,” she added.
June 16, 2016: Kim Kardashian defends West
West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, decides to come to her husband’s defense, claiming during an interview with GQ that Swift had approved of West’s lyrics in “Famous” — just as the rapper had previously claimed — but that the pop star turned things around on him in order to play the victim.
“She totally approved that,” Kardashian says about the lyrics. “She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t. I swear, my husband gets so much s**t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.”
Kardashian also claims that the phone conversation between west and Swift was recorded.
June 24, 2016: West shows a naked wax figure of Swift in his music video for “Famous”
Whatever triumphant high Swift may have felt after her speech at the Grammys, it was short-lived thanks to the release of West’s music video for “Famous.”
In the video, a slew of naked celebrity wax figures lay on a massive bed — among them is a bare-chested Swift sleeping next to West. Other figures include Kardashian, Rihanna, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Caitlyn Jenner, Ray J and Anna Wintour, among others.
Coming to Swift’s defense, actress Lena Dunham slammed West’s video, saying it was “one of the most disturbing ‘artistic’ efforts in recent memory” and that it seemed to legitimize rape culture. She also added seeing Swift’s likeness included was hurtful.
July 17, 2016: Kardashian releases the clip of Swift seemingly approving West’s lyrics
Kardashian releases parts of West and Swift’s recorded convos on Snapchat that seem to uphold their claim that the “Famous” lyrics were indeed Swift-approved.
In the recordings, Swiftppears to say that the lyric in question was a “compliment” and that she planned on telling reporters that West called her ahead of time to get her blessing.
Kardashian also tweets out some major shade: “Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!? They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!”
At the end of her tweet, Kardashian added a ton of snake emojis.
Soon after, the hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty begins trending on Twitter, and Swift fights back on social media: “Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that b***h’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened.”
“Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination,” she also stated. “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”
August 28, 2016: West apologizes…sort of
West took to the stage at the 2016 VMAs to premiere the video for his song “Fade,” and tried to clear the air that it was never his intention to take down Swift: ” You know, like, people come up to me like, ‘Yeah, that’s right! Take Taylor!’ But bro, like, I love all y’all. That’s why I called her.”
November 10, 2017: Swift takes a jab at West and Kardashian in “Look What You Made Me Do”
Swift releases her album reputation along with the debut single “Look What You Made Me Do,” with lyrics that not-so-discreetly referenced West: “I don’t like your little games / Don’t like your tilted stage / The role you made me play / Of the fool / No, I don’t like you.”
The tilted stage was clearly referring to West’s tilted stage from his Saint Pablo Tour.
But Swift also needed to address Kardashian’s role in attacking her reputation in a more noticeable way. The “Look What You Made Me Do” music video showed the pop star’s fingers adorned with snake rings, which many fans interpreted as a reference to the snake emojis from Kardashian’s tweet.
reputation also features another West diss track, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” where Swift sings, “It was so nice being friends again / There I was, giving you a second chance / But then you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand / And therein lies the issue / Friends don’t try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you.”
Summer 2018: Swift brings the snake on tour
To turn the snake name-calling to her advantage, Swift’s been touring with a larger-than-life inflatable cobra named “Karyn,” placing it on stage front and center for all her fans to see. “It’s the Stadium Tour equivalent of responding to a troll’s hateful Instagram comment with lol,” she said.
March 2019: Swift calls West and Kardashian ‘bullies’
Swift continues expressing her disdain for the Wests in April’s edition of Elle, calling them “bullies.” “In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously,” she said. “A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet. The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life.”
June 30, 2019: Swift speaks out again about West and Kardashian bullying and mocking her
After Swift discovers Scooter Braun had purchased her previous record label, she explicitly calls him out along with West and Kardashian, claiming they’ve collectively been bullying her for years. “Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she wrote on her Tumblr page. “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked.”
August 25, 2019: Swift shares a diary entry about West
As part of the deluxe version of Lover, Swift released personal diary entries, including one about her 2009 VMA experience: “Ahh… the things that can change in a week,” she wrote. “If you had told me that one of the biggest stars in music was going to jump on stage and announce that he thought I shouldn’t have won on live television, I would’ve said, ‘That stuff doesn’t really happen in real life’.”
Also on Lover, a song called “I Forgot That You Existed,” which alludes to the fact that Swift is over the feud: “I forgot that you existed / And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn’t /And it was so nice / So peaceful and quiet / I forgot that you existed / It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference.”
September 2019: Swift tells her side of the “Famous” phone call fiasco
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Swift spoke at length about the now-famous call:
The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to it. Because nothing ever just happens like that without some lead-up. Some events took place to cause me to be pissed off when he called me a b***h. That was not just a singular event. Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I. And that wasn’t just based on what happened on that phone call and with that song — it was kind of a chain reaction of things,” she said.
March 2020: The full version of the “Famous” phone call is leaked
A video of the full version of the 25-minute phone call was leaked and caused a frenzy on social media, with many Swift fans claiming that the new video vindicates Swift. Both sides reacted to the resurfaced drama and put it all in perspective regarding the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
“Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about video footage that was leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family, and fans through hell for 4 years),” Swift wrote on her Instagram story. “Swipe up to see what really matters.”
When users swiped up, they were taken to a page to donate to Feeding America.
Kardashian West responded to Swift in a series of tweets: “. @taylorswift13 has chosen to reignite an old exchange — that at this point in time feels very self-serving given the suffering millions of real victims are facing right now.”
Kardashian ended the string of tweets by saying, “This will be the last time I speak on this because honestly, nobody cares. Sorry to bore you all with this. I know you are all dealing with more serious and important matters.”
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