This just in: Taylor Swift and Kanye West are not friends anymore. If you follow Kim Kardashian on Snapchat, or have any kind of internet connection, you’ll know that there’s more than a little bad blood between the two musicians right now, largely over whether or not some of Kanye’s name checking lyrics on The Life Of Pablo received Swift’s approval before they were released. But in reality, the feud goes way back to the 2009 VMAs, and went from bad, to good, to bad again, and has concluded in an ugly (and fascinating) social media war that will go down in our cultural history books. Grab the popcorn.
The 2009 VMA Thing
September 2009: Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s
Whilst accepting her VMA for Best Female Video for ‘You Belong With Me’, Taylor Swift was interrupted when a seemingly narcissistic maniac Kanye West climbed onstage, grabbed her microphone and uttered the immortal line, “Imma let you finish…”
Kanye wanted to let the world know that his friend Beyoncé should have won the award for her iconic ‘Single Ladies’ video, over Taylor Swift.
Speaking to E! News later, Swift said “I was standing onstage and I was really excited because I had just won an award, and then I was really excited because Kanye West was on the stage… And then, um, I wasn’t so excited anymore after that.”
West later called Swift to apologise, “and I accepted that apology,” Swift told ABC Radio.
A trillion memes were born, and, well, the rest was history. Yeezy even tried to re-create the moment when Beck won a Grammy in 2015, but no one thought it was very funny.
The Good (but with low-key shade)
September 2010: Kanye apologises on Twitter
On Saturday the 4th September 2010, Kanye West appeared to be trying to heal some bad karma by publicly taking to Twitter to apologise to the country music singer. He tweeted for almost three hours, writing:
“I’m sorry Taylor.”
“It starts with this…”
“She had nothing to do with my issues with award shows. She had no idea what hit her. She’s justa lil girl with dreams like the rest of us.”
“I wrote a song for Taylor Swift that’s so beautiful and I want her to have it. If she won’t take it then I’ll perform it for her”
“When I woke up from the crazy nightmare I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE… I take the responsibility for my actions”.
“With new found humility… who am I to run on stage? I would never ever again in a million years do that. Sorry to let you down.”
September 2011: Kanye apologises on Jay Leno
A year on, and Kanye was still licking his wounds. He went onto Jay Leno to apologise for the 2009 incident.
“It’s been extremely difficult, just dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away from a talented artist or from anyone because I only wanted to help people my entire life.” He said of his behaviour, “I immediately knew in this 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.”
August 2013: Taylor Swift references the VMAs with cute jam
Jokey but still not quite ready to let it go, T.Swift referenced the 2009 incident on a label for some jam she gave to her buddy Ed Sheeran.
October 2013: Kanye West tells Ryan Seacrest that North would have done the same thing
He initially condemned his actions, by stating: “I would not want some crazy drunk rock star cutting my daughter off also.”
However, Yeezy then made a cheeky backtrack on his comments, by saying that “My daughter would 100-percent also be like, ‘Yes Beyonce did have the best video.’ That’s what my daughter would do.”
February 2015: Taylor and Kanye hang out like best mates at the Grammys
Fast forward to 2015 and the pair couldn’t look chummier. In addition to photographs of the two together, they also posed together with Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian, and friend Jay-Z.
February 2015: The Ryan Seacrest Grammys aftermath interview
In February 2015, Kanye West went on air with Ryan Seacrest to explain his actions at the Grammys, where he climbed onstage at the start of Beck’s acceptance speech, then ran away. In an E! interview after the incident, he said the Grammys should “respect artistry.” He also mentioned Taylor.
Kanye stated that Taylor wanted to get in a studio with him, and that he’d be up for it
“She wants to get in the studio… Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fan base, I’m down to get into the studio and work [with]. I don’t discriminate. I don’t have an elitism of music.”
Kanye stated that Taylor had approved of his Beck stunt
“Taylor Swift came up to me right afterwards and tells me that I shoulda went onstage.”
Kanye hinted he might not regret the Taylor Swift incident as much as he said he did
“If the Grammys are capitalizing off the amount of views that Beyonce gets for them, and still not laying that brick of truth and being respectful towards… because Beck says afterwards, literally says, that Beyonce should have won it. And when I said that thing about “respect artistry” I think it came off the wrong way and that was a miswording on my part. But I felt, and this is my own opinion, he’s his own man,…that even though the Grammys sometimes give awards to people who you wouldn’t think should win in a category, as a respect to artists, we mention the other artist’s name in our speech.”
August 2015: Taylor hands Kanye the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs
And whilst this should have been a lovely moment where they finally confirmed their friendship, Taylor brought up the 2009 thing. Again.
“I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish but Kanye has had one of the greatest careers of all time,” she said, as she handed him the award and the pair hugged it out.
September 2015: Taylor calls Kanye her #BFF after he sends her flowers
October 2015: Taylor declares her admiration for Kanye West in GQ interview
In an interview with GQ, Taylor Swift explained exactly what happened in 2009:
“When the crowd started booing, I thought they were booing because they also believed I didn’t deserve the award. That’s where the hurt came from. I went backstage and cried, and then I had to stop crying and perform five minutes later. I just told myself I had to perform, and I tried to convince myself that maybe this wasn’t that big of a deal.
“But that was the most happenstance thing to ever happen in my career and to now be in a place where Kanye and I respect each other—that’s one of my favorite things that has happened in my career.”
The interview proved to be a truly glorious crescendo to their relationship, before the whole thing went sour.
11th February 2016: ‘Famous’ is debuted, and Taylor isn’t happy
Here is a run down of what happened the night their friendship ended:
Kanye debuts The Life Of Pablo in Madison Square Gardens, and references Taylor on one of the tracks
Kanye West debuted The Life of Pablo on the 11th February 2016 at his Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden. He used his turbulent relationship with Taylor Swift as the subject matter for the track ‘Famous’: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.”
TMZ claims Taylor approved the track
That same night, TMZ reports that sources claim Taylor was informed about the lyric prior to the debut of The Life of Pablo.
Taylor’s rep refutes the claim that she approved the track
Taylor’s people then released an official statement to Billboard magazine:
“Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.’”
Taylor’s squad get involved
Model Gigi Hadid, who was in attendance at the fashion show, made a comment regarding the Taylor controversy on Twitter:
My attendance somewhere does not mean I agree with everything being said in the music playing there. My friends know of my loyalty.
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) February 12, 2016
Then Taylor’s brother, Austin, posted a very public video on Instagram throwing away his pair of Yeezy Boosts:
Ruby Rose (Swfitie Squad member) told Twitter that it was impossible to support Kanye and “call myself a feminist”:
The mother of Taylor’s godson, Jaime King, also got involved:
I'm so sad right now & disappointed right now. I stand by my sister. Always.
— Jaime King (@Jaime_King) February 12, 2016
12th February 2016: Kanye defends his actions on Twitter
In a long twitter rant, Kanye repeated the claim that he cleared the track with Taylor first, and called complaints about The Life Of Pablo a kind of censorship:
15th February 2016: Taylor Swift possibly digs Kanye West in Grammy acceptance speech
When Swift became the first woman to win the Grammy for Album of the Year twice, she used her platform as an opportunity to (what looked like) take down the Kanye lyric:
“I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments, or 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’ll know that it was you, and the people who love you, who put you there. That will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
15th June 2016: Kim Kardashian first accuses Taylor Swift of lying about not knowing the ‘Famous’ lyric
In a cover interview with GQ, Kim stated that Taylor had “totally approved that,” and “She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t.”
“I swear, my husband gets so much shit for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.” She added: “What rapper would call a girl that he was rapping a line about to get approval?”
That same weekend, Taylor was photographed “snogging” her new-beau, the ‘Thor’ star Tom Hiddleston. Some speculated that the photographs were leaked on purpose to take the press attention off the Kardashian interview.
Taylor Swift’s PR responded to GQ with the following statement:
“Taylor does not hold anything against Kim Kardashian as she recognizes the pressure Kim must be under and that she is only repeating what she has been told by Kanye West. However, that does not change the fact that much of what Kim is saying is incorrect. Kanye West and Taylor only spoke once on the phone while she was on vacation with her family in January of 2016 and they have never spoken since. Taylor has never denied that conversation took place. It was on that phone call that Kanye West also asked her to release the song on her Twitter account, which she declined to do. Kanye West never told Taylor he was going to use the term ‘that bitch’ in referencing her. A song cannot be approved if it was never heard. Kanye West never played the song for Taylor Swift. Taylor heard it for the first time when everyone else did and was humiliated. Kim Kardashian’s claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true, and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone.”
25th June 2016: Kanye releases video for ‘Famous’, featuring naked wax doll Taylor Swift
The video also featured wax cameos from Amber Rose, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Donald Tump, George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Ray J, Kim Kardashian, and Kanye himself.
Swiftie squad member and feminist campaigner Lena Dunham made a lengthy Facebook post condemning the video as “sickening”: “While Bill Cosby’s crimes are still being uncovered and understood as traumas for the women he assaulted but also massive bruises to our national consciousness… Now I have to see the prone, unconscious, waxy bodies of famous women, twisted like they’ve been drugged and chucked aside at a rager? It gives me such a sickening sense of dis-ease.”
14th July 2016: E! Keeping Up With The Kardashians preview reveals Kim talking about the GQ interview
In a follow up to the GQ interview online, a behind the scenes clip from Keeping Up With The Kardashians showed Kim speaking about Taylor’s lies and the video evidence waiting on standby. Kanye films everything when he’s recording an album.
She told her sister Kourtney of the tapes, “[Taylor] legitimately says, quote: “as soon as I get on that Grammy red carpet I’m gonna tell all the press, ‘I was in on it’.” She added that Taylor’s reaction was “another way to play the victim.”
16th July 2016: Kim Kardashian releases the video recordings of Taylor approving the line on Snapchat (California time zone)
17:22: Kim posts about National Snake Day
On Sunday evening, to time with the broadcast of this week’s episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kim posted on Twitter about National Snake Day.
Wait it's legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days! ?????????????????????????????????????
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 17, 2016
The post came just days after Swift’s Instagram page was spammed repeatedly with snake emojis following accusations by Swift’s ex, Calvin Harris, that Taylor was behaving unfairly after telling the press that it was she who actually wrote Harris’s new hit single ‘This is what you came for’.
Harris also name checked Katy Perry, and accused Taylor of ‘burying’ her. Read our full guide to the Swift vs Perry feud.
19:36: Kim says she’s not throwing shade, just telling the truth
Theres a BIG difference between shading someone and speaking the truth!
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 18, 2016
20:21: Kim posts the video evidence of Taylor approving the lyric on Snapchat
In a recording of the recording, a voice that sounds a lot like Taylor’s, (and references the roses gift), says down the phone that the lyric “I think me and Taylor might still have sex” is “like a compliment.. go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way… And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice.”
21:31: Selena (one of Taylor’s BFFs) thinks we should all move on
There are more important things to talk about… Why can't people use their voice for something that fucking matters?
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) July 18, 2016
Truth is last thing we need right now is hate, in any form
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) July 18, 2016
22:24: Taylor Swift responds by saying she only approved the line “I feel me and Taylor might still have sex”, not the “I made that bitch famous” line
And that’s the end! For now. What have we learned? Well, mainly that you don’t wanna fuck with this family.