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#LookWhatYouMadeMeDo: The Taylor, Kimye Feud and What Fans Have to Say
A timeline of events that led to the decade’s most intense feud in pop music. Plus, a Swiftie and a Kimye fan take opposing sides in defending their pop idols.
IMAGE COLLAGE BY SANDY ARANAS
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September 13, 2009: Where It All Began

West infamously interrupted Swift mid-speech after she accepted Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me” at the MTV Video Music Awards. The intoxicated rapper crashed the stage and jacked the microphone from Swift, exclaiming "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!"

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This left Swift, Beyoncé, and the world aghast. The interruption heard around-the-world even provoked a reaction from then President Barack Obama, who called West “a jackass.”

September 15, 2009: Apology Accepted

Two days after the incident, both artists went on separate talk shows to discuss the issue. West appeared on Jay Leno’s show and made his first attempt at a public apology: "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."

On The View, Swift recounted her side of the incident and added that West never reached out to her. After the interview, she stated that West personally called to apologize. "He was very sincere in his apology, and I accepted that apology," she said.

September 4, 2010: The “Angry Black Man” Factor

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Nearly a year after the incident, West took to Twitter to address the 2009 VMA interruption. The artist started by blaming the media for demonizing him, discussing the “Angry Black Man” factor, and writing a “beautiful” song for Swift. The two-hour-long Twitter rant ended will a brief and succinct, “I’m sorry, Taylor.”

September 12, 2010: Tributes To Each Other

The seemingly resolved feud was reignited after Swift debuted her single “Innocent” on the VMA stage. The track was quickly realized as a diss track to West, with these notable lines: “It’s alright / Just wait and see / Your string of lights is still bright to me,” “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.”

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On the same night, West performed “Runaway,” his response to the previous year. The track was a deviation from the rapper’s usual style with lyrics focused on the media reception of the incident. He sang, “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags / Let’s have a toast for the assholes.”

October-November 2010: An Apology Retracted?

During the two months, West retracted his apology in separate interviews. Fanning the flames, he also made several statements against the pop star saying that Swift’s album Fearless’ Grammy win was “inaccurate.” West then accused Swift of exploiting the incident for publicity: “Taylor never came to my defense at any interview. And rode the waves and rode it and rode it,” he said.

May 3, 2011: The First Public Meeting

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The 2011 MET Costume Institute Gala brought Swift and West together. Onlookers witnessed the two cross paths and exchange “a studiedly casual, ‘down low’ high five.”

February 15, 2015: Can They Still Be Friends?

At the 2015 Grammys, the two were noticeably more warm toward each other. The pair were photographed smiling while having what looked like a friendly conversation, making headlines that marked the end of a six-year-long feud.

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February 16, 2015: A Possible Collaboration

The day after the Grammys, West spoke on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show about his reconciliation with Swift. The rapper told Seacrest that the pop artist approached him mid-show, even cracking a joke about the incident. He mentioned hopes of a future collaboration, “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.”

February 25, 2015: Befriending Mrs. West

Further proving that there was no more bad blood between West and Swift, Kim Kardashian (West’s wife) was spotted dancing with the blonde singer during the 2015 Brit Awards. The two were shown dancing to Kanye’s performance of “All Day,” launching a thousand GIFs and memes.

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August 30, 2015: Praise for Kanye

The continuing friendship reached new heights when Swift presented West with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. Taylor spoke nothing but praise for the rapper, proclaiming that she’s one of Kanye’s biggest fans. At the end, Swift once again referenced the old incident by saying, “All the other winners, I'm really happy for you, I'm going to let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time.”

September 15, 2015: #KanTay2020

The pair seemed to have taken their friendship to the next level. West sent Swift a large floral arrangement which she posted on her Instagram account with a caption complete with endearing hashtags: “Kanye sent me the coolest flowers!! #KanTay2020 #BFFs

February 11, 2016: Round Two!

All was well between the two parties until West released a track called “Famous,” which began with explicit sexual lines about Swift and claimed that the events of that very first VMA were what brought her fame. “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous,” the line goes. The rapper was quick to point out that he had secured the singer’s permission through an hour-long phone conversation. The opposing camp denied it.

February 15, 2016: A Loaded Speech

Swift received her second Album of the Year award but this time for 1989. During her acceptance speech at the Grammys, she addressed aspiring young women, warning them against those trying to “undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.” She continued to tell them not to focus on these types of people in order to get where they’re going.

June 16, 2016: Kim Kardashian Comes Into the Picture

Defending her husband, Kim Kardashian West issued a statement in an interview with GQ, saying that Swift did, in fact, know about the lyrics and was only playing the victim. “She totally approved that,” she says, “She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t.” She then proceeded to clarify that the conversation in question had been recorded on camera.

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June 25, 2016: Getting Waxed

West released the video to Famous and right after the starting mark, viewers got a glimpse of wax figures of a very bare West in between his wife and Swift. Granted there were other naked copies of celebrities and politicians next to them in bed, the music video certainly added salt to the wound.

July 18, 2016: Creepy Crawlers

Via tweets, Kardashian West cryptically referred to a “snake,” indirectly tagging Swift with the snake emoji. Kardashian West also revealed clips of a secret recording of a phone call on Snapchat where Swift was revealed to have agreed to be included in the song. Kardashian West released this on the social media app, where the video confirmed the existence of such a conversation, but Swift, of course, did not back down.

Swift issued a post of her own, posting an explanation of how she never knew the song would refer to her as a “bitch” and how West had promised to let her listen the song when it was done but never did. Swift said, “You cannot ‘approve’ a song you haven’t heard.”

May 30, 2017: Is Kendall in Or Out?

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Kardashian West appeared on Andy Cohen’s show and denied that her half-sister, Kendall Jenner, was ever part of Swift’s group of girlfriends famously referred to as her “squad.” Jenner had made appearances on stage at Taylor’s concerts in the past.

August 21, 2017: Social Media Blackout

Both camps, particularly Swift’s, had been quiet about the feud for months. After ending her world tour, Swift had limited her social media activity. She wiped out all her social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then Swift released three videos of what appears to be a snake. #OwningIt

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

August 23, 2017: Her Reputation Precedes Her

Swift announced the release date of her next album, Reputation, which comes three years after 1989, and its first single. Reactions from both fans and haters ensued.

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A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

August 25, 2017: The Old Taylor Is Dead

The song “Look What You Made Me Do” was released with a lyric video, with each line of the song apparently the singer’s blunt response to the whole fiasco. The once-country singer also had a makeover. Notably, the album art and lyric video hinted at Kanye and Kim: the snakes, the font used in West’s merchandise, and the design of his own Life of Pablo album. As an initial response, Kardashian West blocked the snake emoji on her social media. Swift also teased its music video slated to be released at this year’s MTV VMAs.

IN DEFENSE OF TAYLOR SWIFT

In the track “Innocent,” which is said to be about Kanye West’s initial VMA interruption, Swift’s message to the rapper is reassuring and almost forgiving. She sings, “Your string of lights is still bright to me” and “Who you are is not what you did. You’re still an innocent.” There were awkward moments after that but a friendship was undeniably there for a time.

Swift never publicly displayed any ill intentions against West or Kardashian West. The husband and wife initiated all public displays of negativity. They embarrassed her numerous times, via social media and in person and in turn, Swift issued long responses in reply to the couple's Snapchat releases, snake emojis, and apology take backs. It was ultimately Swift’s image that was dragged through the mud throughout this whole feud. “Playing the victim,” “snake,” and “liar” were some of the colorful names that they gave her.

Admittedly, what made Swift’s image vulnerable and susceptible to hatred was her past. Many showed their displeasure at her style of writing about former flames. Her detractors labeled her a serial dater and credited her songs and her success to failed past relationships. But her supporters argued that it was normal for a 27-year-old woman to date men in her social circle, and hers just happened to be the entertainment industry. And like other artists, she used them as muses and real-life sources of inspiration that she channeled into her songs.  

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Regarding her statement following the Snapchat recordings, Swift reiterated that the word “bitch” had never been run by her. Some may call it an element of rap, but it is highly derogatory nonetheless. Did she lie initially about the conversation? Technically not, because West had never informed her of the complete line. As for those naked wax figures? Who even knows anymore.

Relatively unresponsive throughout the drama, Swift now responded in the best way she knows how—through song. With the release of “Look What You Made Me Do,” she cites the loss of public trust, a depletion of her own ability to trust others, and the death of the “Old Taylor:” Comically she interrupts the song to say, “I’m sorry, the Old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s dead!”

Welcome to Swift's new, darker persona.

The first release and the album art may appear to be a direct dig at the Wests but then again Swift has always been known for making fun of the labels others give her and making them her own. Above the feud, Slate calls the release self-satire. It’s more about Swift herself than anybody else.

IN DEFENSE OF KANYE WEST AND KIM KARDASHIAN WEST

What irks many Kimye fans the most is the fact that it’s bigger than Taylor–or Kanye. In an interview, West made a point by saying, "if it was the other way around" and Swift were an established artist who had "made the video of her career, do you think she would have lost to a brand new artist? Hell no!" Even the issue of race comes into play with the VMA win. But if there’s something that the two sides can agree on, it’s that right or wrong, West could have definitely handled the situation better instead of giving an onstage tantrum.

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Post-2010, West focused the blame on the media, especially with the release of his song “Runaway.” It was a track that many describe as an apology for his personality. Meanwhile, West's fans claim Swift’s “Innocent” was a backhanded attempt at forgiveness. The Washington Post described the track as, “a small masterpiece of passive aggressiveness, a vivisection dressed up as a peace offering.” 

West's supporters also claim Swift played the victim to West’s “Angry Black Men” well, squeezing out every single bit of publicity from the issue. And after years of friendly interaction and what seemed like a truce, they say she refueled the issue by denying any association with West’s single “Famous.” 

Then West's wife, Kardashian West got involved. She uploaded the video of Taylor approving the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.” The follow-up “bitch” line’s approval was noticeably absent from the tape, but it was clear that the conversation between West and Swift had taken place.

Shortly after, #KimExposedTaylorParty started trending on Twitter where Swift was accused of being manipulative and continuing to use other people for publicity, including her then “budding relationship” with actor Tom Hiddleston. 

Kimye fans claim “Look What You Made Me Do,” has taken the feud to another level with the references to the snake, and by referencing West’s last album’s imagery onto her album cover and merchandise. West's fans call the move foul especially since the album was released on the anniversary of West's mother's death and comes at a time when Swift knows West has been dealing with mental health issues. 

West's fans claim that to this day, Swift still wants to play the victim.

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