Taylor Swift and Kanye West’s rivalry has been one of the biggest in music history. From the infamous 2009 VMAs incident to their short-lived friendship to Kanye’s shoutout on “Famous” and Taylor’s response on reputation, it’s certainly been one for the history books. Taylor recently reflected on the feud and Kanye’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian leaking the 2016 phone call about “Famous” in her Time “Person of the Year” interview.
As one of the longest-running rivalries in music, tons of fans revisit the drama when one of them do something to stir the pot. With Taylor reflecting on the phone call and her career as a whole, look back on the entire timeline of their feud here.
The 2009 MTV VMAs
The trouble started between Taylor and Kanye in 2009, years before Kim was in the picture. No one will ever forget the infamous moment when Kanye stormed the stage at the 2009 Video Music Awards and interrupted Taylor while she was accepting the award for Female Video of the Year. He ran on-stage and announced that Beyoncé had “one of the best videos of all time.” In subsequent interviews, Taylor did reveal that Kanye had called her to apologize after the fact.
Taylor was just 19 years old at the time, and the situation publicly humiliated her. When Bey was given the Video of the Year award, she welcomed Taylor back to the stage to have her moment. In the years since the infamous incident, Taylor has referred to it on multiple occasions, including during a performance on her “Eras Tour” in August 2023.
Taylor Releases “Innocent,” and Kanye Drops “Runaway”
After the incident, the Speak Now singer responded by penning the song “Innocent” on her 2010 album and performing it at the very same award show one year after the incident. The song was not angry, and although Taylor and Kanye were far from friends, it looked like they were putting the drama behind them.
At the 2010 award show, Kanye also made his return with the song “Runaway” from his magnum opus album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The performance not only marked the beginning of the promo for the album, but the song appeared at least partially inspired by the backlash he received for the incident.
Taylor & Kanye Hang Out at the Grammys
In 2015, they proved that all was cool between them by hanging out at the 2015 Grammy Awards. JAY-Z helped facilitate the reconciliation, as he was friends with both Kanye AND Taylor. In August of that year, Taylor spoke about the two of them making up in a Vanity Fair interview. “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,” she said. “Hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be.”
Taylor Introduces Kanye at the VMAs
At the 2015 VMA Awards that August, Taylor and Kanye’s relationship came full circle, as she presented him with the Video Vanguard Award at the show. She then stood beside Kim in the audience and watched him speak and perform. Unfortunately, the solace was short-lived.
Kanye Releases “Famous,” & Taylor Claps Back
In 2016, Kanye released his song “Famous,” which included the lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why? I made that b**** famous.” He claimed that he called Taylor to get her approval for the lyric before releasing the song, but her publicist released a statement that told a different story. She admitted that Kanye did give Taylor a call, but said Taylor never approved the lyric that was in the song that the rapper released.
When Taylor won the 2016 Grammy for Album of the Year, she again made a dig at Kanye and the song. “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,” she said, via People. “f 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.”
Kim Kardashian Calls Out Taylor & Releases Phone Call Footage
That June, Kim did an interview with GQ, and branded Taylor a liar. Then, in July, she called Taylor a ‘snake’ on X (formerly Twitter), and released illegally-recorded footage of Kanye and Taylor’s conversation about “Famous” on Snapchat.
Taylor released a scathing statement in response through a spokesperson. “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,” they said.
Taylor Drops ‘reputation’
After the Midnights songwriter released her statement, she was shunned on social media, and she retreated from the public eye. She didn’t address the situation again until the release of her 2017 song, “Look What You Made Me Do.” She subsequently released the album reputation, which had a few songs that appeared to take digs at Ye, including “I Did Something Bad” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”
Taylor Opens Up About Kanye to ‘Rolling Stone’
During a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Taylor gave a more detailed account of why she never fully trusted Kanye, even when they were friends. She shared specific instances where she felt manipulated by the rapper, including before presenting him with the Vanguard Award. “I realized he is so two-faced. That he wants to be nice to me behind the scenes, but then he wants to look cool, get up in front of everyone and talk s**t. And I was so upset. He wanted me to come talk to him after the event in his dressing room. I wouldn’t go,” she said.
The Whole Phone Call Is Released
The whole thing was seemingly put to bed — until the FULL version of the “Famous” phone call was leaked in 2020. Taylor released a statement showing that she felt vindicated by the release. “Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that 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),” she wrote.
After Taylor’s statement, Kim clapped back at her, referring to the many people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and she also claimed that she “never edited” the footage. “@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,” she wrote on X. “At the time when they spoke the song had not been fully written yet, but as everyone can see in the video, she manipulated the truth of their actual conversation in her statement when her team said she ‘declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message.”
Kanye Promises to Get Taylor’s Masters Back
Since “Famous,” Taylor and Kanye have never made up, but amid her battle to regain ownership of her master recordings from Scooter Braun, the rapper did post that he was “GOING TO PERSONALLY SEE TO IT THAT TAYLOR SWIFT GETS HER MASTERS BACK” in a post on X in September 2020. He stood by the statement in an interview with Billboard a few days later. “All artists need to be free and own their rights. Taylor Swift deserves that, just like everyone else,” he said.
Kim Listens to Taylor Years After Feud
In 2021, Kim filed for divorce from Kanye. Taylor didn’t publicly comment on their split, but afterwards, the SKIMs founder did reveal some surprising musical preferences. Kim admitted that she is a fan of Taylor’s music in an interview with political commentator Bari Weiss. “They’re all super cute and catchy,” she said.
Two years later, Kim further showed that she’s a fan by dancing along with her daughter North West in January 2023. In March, she also posted a video of herself working out to the Lover cut “You Need to Calm Down.”
Taylor Looks Back on the Infamous Phone Call in ‘Time’ Interview.
Over seven years after the “Famous” phone call was released, Taylor reflected on the situation more in her Time interview, when she was named “Person of the Year.” She spoke about how down she felt after everyone called her out following Kim’s leak. “That took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before,” she said. “I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”