We finally understand Kanye’s beef with Taylor Swift
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On the surface, one would think that Taylor Swift is just as sweet as some of her music videos. She appears to be a girl who lusts for fairytale romances, is cat-obsessed, and is extraordinarily supportive of her Swifties. The award-winning singer-songwriter has cultivated a pretty cookie-cutter image too, thanks to countless interviews that humanize her as the girl next door. She told Rolling Stone that her idea of a big Saturday night is “watching Titanic at home with her cats.” Not a fan of provocative selfies, she giddily declares that she prefers to “take pictures of cute kittens, or when the ocean looks nice.” Adorable, right?
Get past her public persona, however, and it turns out that the “Blank Space” crooner has some skeletons in her closet. It’s no secret Swift is prone to drama, and some celebs have even spoken out against her. Gasp! Our favorite feud? The beef that’s always for dinner: Tay versus Kimye. The quarrel with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, kicked off way back in 2009, yet it appears that no one is shaking anything off. We’ll help you finally understand what all this bad blood is about, but it’s up to you to pick sides. Good luck.
It started with the infamous VMA interruption
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In 2009, Taylor Swift made her transition from blue-eyed country crooner to bonafide pop star — all thanks to her immensely radio-friendly album, Fearless. It was so successful, in fact, that the 19-year-old landed a nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards for best female video for her song, “You Belong with Me.” Swift won, and proceeded to the stage, wide-eyed and blissful, to accept her moon man. Unfortunately, rapper Kanye West followed her on stage, snagging the mic halfway through her acceptance speech to declare: “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” Mouth agog, Swift looked mortified; so did Beyoncé.
West talked about that cringe-worthy moment in an interview with talk show host Ellen Degeneres in 2010, explaining that he literally left the country to get away from the VMA backlash. He supposedly bounced from Japan to Rome to Hawaii, taking some time away from music to “soak in all that happened.” He called the infamous moment one of “sincerity or alcohol,” and referred to himself as a “soldier of culture” who wanted to speak out about “things that really meant stuff to culture.”
Regardless of whether or not he viewed Swift’s track as a cultural milestone, it’s safe to say we have Mr. West to thank for the most parodied award show moment of all time.
Kanye said sorry…and then he didn’t
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West wasn’t a complete jerk about things after the incident. He actually apologized to Swift days after the event, and she confirmed that she had supposedly accepted his expression of regret, per CNN. But clearly, the rapper had some leftover guilt about the whole scenario because, in 2010, he decided to go public with his feelings. “I’m sorry Taylor,” he posted to Twitter, adding that he’d written a “beautiful” song for Swift that he wanted her to have. “If she won’t take it then I’ll perform it for her,” he said.
This could have been the end of a relatively short feud, but as it turns out, Swift had apparently penned a song of her own. She debuted the tune, titled “Innocent,” at the 2010 VMAs — the anniversary of this beef’s birth. In what was widely believed to be a jab at West, she began her performance by replaying a clip of the infamous interruption. Some of her lyrics also appeared aimed at the rapper, including this one: “Thirty-two and still growin’ up now…” — Kanye’s age when he stole her spotlight.
Soon after, the “Jesus Walks” rapper took to the stage at a New York concert and essentially told the audience that he was rescinding his apology, alleging Swift had hung him out to dry. “Taylor never came to my defense in any interview,” he said. “…And [she] rode the wave and rode it and rode it.”
Years pass…and the drama continues
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By 2013, the press still couldn’t get enough of the goss as interviewers continued to grill the two stars about the tension between them. In a very open 2013 interview with The New York Times, Kanye West explained that he didn’t have a single regret over what happened the night he stole Swift’s thunder. “If anyone’s reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now.” After some prodding from the interviewer, Yeezus revealed that his earlier apologies were due to “peer pressure.”
However, some suggested it wasn’t fair for West to shoulder all the blame, suggesting that Swift seemed to seize any opportunity to play the victim. In addition to releasing “Innocent,” the pop star told Rolling Stone that she had the infamous VMA moment memorialized on her mantel at home. Uh, what? As the mag described: “Above the fireplace, which is emblazoned with a small heart, there’s even a photo of the moment Kanye stormed her VMA stage (captioned, “Life is full of little interruptions,” a phrase that’s also in the liner notes of her [Speak Now] album), right next to what is presumably the actual award in question under glass.” Petty? We think so.
One big happy Grammy family
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It’s now six years after the incident, and Kanye West has married Kim Kardashian. When the Hollywood power couple attends the 2015 Grammy awards, fans are shocked to see them pose for photos with Taylor Swift. In fact, the shots didn’t look forced at all, and, dare we say it, the trio even looked happy!
The world rejoiced, and West even went on air with Ryan Seacrest’s radio show (via Vanity Fair) to announce that he and his former nemesis would be collaborating on a song together. “Yeah, she wants to get in the studio and we’re definitely going to go in. Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fan base, I’m down to get in the studio and work. I don’t discriminate.” One could assume that meant The College Dropout rapper finally viewed Swift as culturally significant. Kumbaya!
The Taylor and Kanye honeymoon phase
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The 2015 award show circuit saw the two former enemies chumming it up every chance they got and forming an unlikely alliance. In a very revealing interview with Vanity Fair, the 1989 songstress admitted it was Jay Z who helped her reconcile with West! “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,” Swift explained. “…I became friends with Jay Z, and I think it was important, for Jay Z, for Kanye and I to get along … It started with both of us really liking Jay and wanting him to be happy.”
These two became so friendly that Swift even presented West with the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV VMAs that year. According to News Corp Australia, the rap star sent Swift a bouquet of white roses to thank her for presenting him with the award. She shared a photo of the bouquet online with the caption: “Awwww Kanye sent me the coolest flowers!! #KanTay2020 #BFFs.” That KanTay2020 reference came in lieu of Kanye announcing he would run for the 2020 presidency at the end of his VMA Vanguard speech. Volunteering to be his running-mate meant this beef was definitely squashed, right? Think again…
Kanye declares he made Taylor famous
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Kanye West dished out one heck of a Valentine to Taylor Swift on Feb. 14, 2016. That’s the day he released The Life of Pablo, which included a song titled “Famous,” which included an obvious jab at Swift. When we say obvious, we mean he included her name in the verse: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bi**h famous.” Why? Whyyyy? Why rehash all the bad blood? The explanation is a wild one:
It turns out, Swift allegedly knew all about the track. In a series of Twitter posts (via Rolling Stone), West claimed Swift knew about the song and had told him she was cool with it. “I called Taylor and had an hour-long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings,” he said, adding that wifey Kim K was “cool with it” too. But something didn’t add up.
Swift’s team vehemently denied that she gave a green light to West’s track. According to The Guardian, the starlet’s spokesperson claimed Swift “cautioned [West] about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bi**h famous.'” Hmm, who’s telling the truth here?
Kim K goes to bat for her man
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Gossip mags were going wild with Taylor Swift and Kanye West’s game of he said, she said following the release of “Famous,” and then the situation got even more intense when Kim Kardashian decided to get involved.
In the June 2016 issue of GQ, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star claimed Swift knew about her hubby’s track in full. “She totally approved that. 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 sh*t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.” The reality TV star even revealed that there was allegedly video evidence of the contested phone call. To make the whole story even juicier, Kardashian — an aspiring attorney — topped it off by spilling that West supposedly received a letter from Swift’s legal team demanding that the aforementioned footage never see the light of day.
Taylor finds herself in a bed of controversy
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The dramatics connected to “Famous” extended beyond just those eyebrow-raising lyrics. On June 24, 2016, Kanye West released the track’s music video. According to Harper’s Bazaar, he debuted the video to close friends and fans at The Forum arena in Los Angeles. The footage starts off with a hyper-speed montage that includes, you guessed it, that infamous VMA moment with Swift from 2009. As the video’s pacing slows, it pans out to a bed of naked A-listers all sleeping together. Among the celebs are George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ray J., Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and — you guessed it — Taylor Swift.
Another fun fact: The visuals for the video took more than three months to create! West did not confirm which celebrities were real and which were prosthetics, although, it’s pretty clear that wasn’t the living, breathing version of Swift. A source told Hollywood Life (via The Mirror) that the songstress was “livid and horrified. She didn’t know what to do when she heard about what Kanye did. She is bewildered, feels betrayed and is beyond frustrated with Kanye. It is like a complete nightmare.”
Surprise, it’s National Snake Day!
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If you thought Kim Kardashian was bluffing in her 2016 GQ interview, she brought the proverbial receipts in July 2016. Going in for the kill a month after her hubby’s “Famous” video debut, she released a series of Snapchat videos of her husband chatting on the phone with Taylor Swift about his controversial track. A public relations pro, the reality TV star posted the videos the same day a KUWTK episode aired highlighting West’s feud with the pop star. In what turned out to be a triple-whammy of trolling, Kardashian also posted to her Twitter page that same day: “Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!? They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!” She made sure to include what felt like an endless stream of snake emojis.
As for the Snapchat videos, you can, indeed, hear a voice that sounds like Swift’s telling West: “I’m really glad that you had the respect to call me and tell me about your concerns about the song … If people ask me about it, I think it would be great for me to be like, ‘Look, he called me and told me about the line before it came out.’ Like, ‘joke’s on you guys, we’re fine.'”
Just like that, the tea was spilled, and Kardashian solidified her role as a professional shade-thrower.
Taylor declares ‘character assassination’
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It’s pretty obvious Ms. Swift wasn’t too happy with Kimye’s video leak. Per The Guardian, the enraged pop star took to her Instagram account to air her grievances, calling the entire situation “character assassination.” She added, “You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bi**h’ in front of the entire world … Of course I wanted to like the song. I wanted to believe Kanye when he told me I would love the song. I wanted us to have a friendly relationship.”
In addition to the post, Swift opted to quietly go into hiding and focus on what she seems to do best after she’s been wronged — work on a new album. After her image was so publicly tarnished, a source close to her told Us Weekly that Swift was “trying to keep herself out of the media.” Another insider told the tab she was working on her next release, albeit not in “any of the bigger studios in Nashville, New York, L.A. or London.”
It’s been established: the old Taylor is dead
Just a year after Kimye’s alleged “character assassination” of Taylor Swift, the pop star decided to wipe her Instagram page clean (and boy, did she ever have a collection of squad photos on there) only to reveal posts of her new mascot — a snake. After teasing the release of a new album by capitalizing on the reptilian imagery Kim Kardashian so graciously bestowed upon her, Swift released the video for a new single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” and therein announced that the old Taylor was “dead.” In what was perceived as an epic clap-back at both Kanye West and Kardashian, Swift’s Reputation project seemingly targeted the rapper with the lyrics: “The world moves on / Another day another drama, drama / But not for me, not for me / All I think about is karma.”
As if that wasn’t enough, she also appeared to hit Kim K where it really hurt — allegedly referencing Kardashian’s brutal robbery at gunpoint in Paris — you know, the one that left her traumatized. Fans noticed that in the single’s video, Swift lounges in a bathtub of jewels with her hand in a finger gun formation. Considering Kardashian was gagged and thrown into a tub while robbed of her jewels, this imagery — be in coincidental or intentional — took the feud from ugly to downright cruel.
Is this trio done throwing shade? No way!
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Nearly ten years after the iconic VMA moment of 2009, it seems Taylor Swift still isn’t about to let bygones be bygones. In April 2019, the singer debuted a video for a single titled “ME!” Known to litter her videos with Easter eggs, the songstress admitted there are many to be found. In a YouTube Q&A with her fans (via Billboard), she teased, “Some you’ll find out right away and some will take a minute to reveal their meaning.” An obvious one: the pink snake at the start of the video.
How did Kim Kardashian respond? By throwing subtle shade, of course. According to RadarOnline, the KUWTK star posted a photo to her Instagram story of a piece of snake jewelry with the caption: “I am obsessed!!!!”
A month before the release of the “ME!” video, Swift vocalized — yet again — her thoughts on all the Kimye drama. “A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet,” she said (via Us Weekly) “…it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life.” So low that she’s apparently not ready to take the high road just yet, or maybe this entire trio subscribes to the notion that dragging out this beef is good for business. Now that we’ve helped you finally understand the beef between Kimye and Taylor Swift, we’ll let you decide how you feel about it in the future.