The feud heard around the world. Kanye West and Taylor Swift have had their fair share of ups and downs in the past seven years, from the rapper’s shocking ambush during the singer’s 2009 MTV VMAs acceptance speech to the recent drama surrounding his controversial single “Famous.”
Can’t keep up with the pair’s seemingly never-ending rift? Take a look back at their tumultuous relationship with the timeline below.
2009 MTV Video Music Awards
The feud started when West, now 39, interrupted Swift, now 26, as she accepted the Best Female Video Award for “You Belong With Me” at the VMAs in September 2009. During her speech, the drunk MC grabbed the microphone out of the country singer’s hand and yelled, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
The camera immediately panned to a horrified Beyoncé, who was nominated in the same category for her “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” video, saying, “No, Kanye.” West was almost immediately hit with backlash from celebs and fans alike. President Barack Obama even called him a “jackass” for the incident in an off-the-record comment during a CNBC interview.
West Tearfully Apologizes on The Tonight Show
Two days after the VMAs, West made a tearful appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where he explained, “It’s been a difficult day. … 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.” He later appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and blamed the tantrum on a combination of “sincerity and alcohol.”
Swift Returns to VMAs Stage, Sings About West
One year later, a barefoot Swift took the stage at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards to perform her new song “Innocent,” which was widely interpreted as a dig at West.
“It’s alright / Just wait and see / Your string of lights is still bright to me,” she sang after footage from the infamous 2009 incident played on the arena’s screens. “Who you are is not where you’ve been / You’re still an innocent … It’s OK, life is a tough crowd / 32 and still growing up now.” Later in the evening, West performed “Runaway,” a track loosely based on the media’s perception of his and Swift’s 2009 VMAs encounter which includes the lyrics, “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags / Let’s have a toast for the assholes.”
West Takes Back Apology During Interview
In June 2013, the “Gold Digger” entertainer sat down with The New York Times for an extensive Q&A. While discussing the “Bad Blood” songstress, he stated that the VMAs incident “only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is.” When asked if he regretted his 2009 outburst or the subsequent apology, he said, “I don’t have one regret. If anyone’s reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now.”
West also explained that his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a “long, backhanded apology.” The LP was the rapper’s self-proclaimed comeback. “Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves,” he told the NYT of the record.
The Frenemies Reunite at 2015 Grammys
West and Swift made headlines in February 2015 when they were photographed smiling and having a conversation at the 2015 Grammy Awards. The next day, Yeezy told Ryan Seacrest that the blonde bombshell approached him after Beck won the Album of the Year Award over Beyoncé and told him he should’ve gone on stage. “This is the irony in my life,” he quipped.
West continued, “She wants to get in the studio and we’re definitely going to go in. Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fanbase, I’m down to get in the studio and work. I don’t discriminate.” Rumors later swirled that the MC was planning to join Swift on a remix of her hit “Bad Blood,” but she later shot down the speculation.
Swift Addresses the Friendship in Vanity Fair
The “Shake It Off” singer covered Vanity Fair’s September 2015 issue, in which she revealed that she was gradually considering the entrepreneur as one of her pals. “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,” she explained. “And then Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I’ve accomplished, and I could ask him how his kid [North is] doing. … We haven’t planned [a collaboration] … But hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be.”
Swift Presents Award to West at 2015 VMAs
Things went full-circle at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in September as Swift presented West with the coveted MTV Video Vanguard Award. “I first met Kanye West six years ago — at this show, actually!” she joked before explaining that the rapper’s debut album, The College Dropout, was “the very first album my brother and I bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old.”
“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 continued. “So, I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight: I’m really happy for you, and imma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time.” As West accepted the award, Swift stood in the audience awkwardly arm-in-arm with his wife, Kim Kardashian.
Feud Reignites as West Drops ‘Famous’
In February 2016, the Yeezy fashion designer debuted his new clothing line at a star-studded event at Madison Square Garden while simultaneously premiering several cuts from his new album, The Life of Pablo. On one track, titled “Famous,” he raps, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” Following immediate backlash, West clarified on Twitter that he had an “hour long convo with [Taylor] about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.”
Swift Throws Shade During 2016 Grammys Speech
While accepting the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Swift indirectly acknowledged the controversial “Famous” lyric for the first time, saying, “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 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.”
West Premieres Extremely NSFW ‘Famous’ Video
In June 2016, West premiered the NSFW “Famous” music video, which featured naked look-alikes of himself, Kardashian, Swift, Rihanna, Chris Brown and several more in bed together, at a star-studded event at the Forum in Los Angeles. The voyeuristic visual, which was inspired by Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep” painting, was heavily criticized by multiple stars, including Lena Dunham, who called the clip “one of the most disturbing ‘artistic’ efforts in recent memory.”
Kim Kardashian Sticks Up for Her Husband
Kardashian, 35, claimed in a July 2016 interview with GQ magazine that the “Blank Space” singer knew about the NSFW “Famous” line all along. “She totally approved that,” the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star told the publication. “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 s–t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.”
Kardashian Releases West and Swift’s Phone Call
After Kardashian sniped at Swift and explained her GQ comments during a July 2016 episode of KUWTK, the reality star released a series of Snapchat videos of West speaking to the singer on the phone. In the clips, the Nashville native seemingly signs off on the controversial lyric and even calls it “a compliment.” Shortly after the videos were released, the Twitterverse went wild and the hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty became a worldwide trending topic. Swift responded via Instagram, saying that she was unaware that she’d be referred to as “that bitch” on the tune.
“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 continued. “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”
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