The 11-year-long beef between Kanye West and Taylor Swift is making headlines again since this weekend, but not for reasons Kanye or Kim Kardashian will be too pleased about. The drama surrounds a leaked phone call, a few lies, and a lot of snakes, but if you’re confused about why it all started — and why the call is currently sending Swift’s Twitter fans into overdrive — keep reading for our brief guide to the entire saga.
2009: I’ma Let You Finish
At the 2009 VMAs, a 19-year-old Taylor Swift and her “You Belong With Me” track beat Beyoncé in the Best Female Video category. While collecting her award, Kanye jumped on stage and interrupted her mid-speech. He declared, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!”
The whole thing was so awkward and rude even Bey felt uncomfortable — which she has since detailed. Later that night she separated herself from Kanye’s message by inviting Swift onstage to “have her moment.” It also prompted Barack Obama to call Kanye a “jackass.”
2010: Kanye apologizes and deletes his Twitter account
2010: Swift releases “Innocent” and Kanye takes his apology back.
Swift’s track references West in the lyrics, “Thirty two and still growin’ up now / Who you are is not what you did / You’re still an innocent.” According to the BBC, Kanye then backtracks on his apology and accuses Swift of using the VMAs moment as a publicity stunt.
2013: In a 2013 interview with The New York Times, Kanye blamed “peer pressure” for his previous apologies and stated, “If anyone’s reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now.”
2015: Kanye, Kim Kardashian, and Swift were pictured hugging at that year’s VMAs, prompting headlines that the feud had finally been put to rest.
2016: Kanye drops “Famous”
A year later, Kanye dropped the track “Famous,” in which he spits the bars, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” The song drew a wealth of criticism for disrespecting Swift, which Kanye countered by stating that he “called Taylor and had an hour-long convo with her about the line, and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.”
Swift’s representatives countered that she had “cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message” and had not been told about the “bitch” line.
2016: Swift slams Kanye in her Grammys speech
“There are going to be people along the way who 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.”
2016: Kim Kardashian says Swift approved of the line and news of the phone call recording surfaces.
Talking to GQ in July 2016, Kardashian said that Swift had approved the lyrics and then pulled a 360 once the track released. “She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t [approve]” Kardashian said. “I swear, my husband gets so much shit for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.”
Kardashian then revealed that the call between Kanye and Swift had been recorded and claimed Swift’s lawyers had told them to destroy it.
2016: Kanye Drops “Famous” video featuring Swift in a giant bed, naked, surrounded by other famous figures.
2016: Kardashian releases phone call footage and brands Swift a snake
Via Snapchat, Kardashian leaked a snippet of the conversation in which Kanye tells Swift about the sex lyrics in “Famous” and she can be heard responding positively.
2016: Swift calls Kardashian and Kanye’s actions a “character assassination.”
According to Rolling Stone, in a series of since-deleted posts, Swift asked, “Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that bitch’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened. You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bitch’ in front of the entire world.”
She continued, “He promised to play the song for me, but he never did. While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot ‘approve’ a song you haven’t heard. Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination.”
2017: Swift drops “Look What You Made Me Do”
Swift takes multiple shots at the entire incident in her track “Look What You Made Me Do,” which features snakes, piles of naked bodies referencing West’s “Famous” video, and lyrics like,
“I don’t like your little games, Don’t like your tilted stage / The role you made me play, Of the fool, no, I don’t like you / I don’t like your perfect crime, How you laugh when you lie / You said the gun was mine / Isn’t cool, no, I don’t like you (oh!) / But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time, Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time / I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined. I check it once, then I check it twice, oh! / Ooh, look what you made me do.”
2018: Swift goes on tour with an inflatable cobra called Karyn.
2019: Swift calls Kardashian and Kanye “bullies.”
She told Elle, “In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously. A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet. The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life.”
On Tumblr, Swift wrote, “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video, which strips my body naked.”
March 21 2020: The full recording leaks
Earlier today, March 21, 2020, an extended cut of the phone recording surfaced online. As it turns out, Kardashian’s leaked snipped wasn’t exactly the full story. The newly leaked clip shows that while Kanye did run lyrics past Swift, he didn’t tell her that he calls her a bitch and takes credit for her fame (a reference to the 2009 VMAs) in the next line.
March 21 2020: Swift seemingly responds.
While she hasn’t made an official comment yet, the musician has started liking posts that show support for her, E! News reports. A Tumblr post titled “Taylor told the truth mood board,” is reportedly one of the posts she liked last night, as was, “How I sleep at night knowing we were right all this time and now we have the receipts to prove it.”
Swift’s close friend, Todrick Hall, was less subtle in his response to the news. Read below.
March 21 2020: Kim Kardashian subtly responds, too.
Kardashian has also been liking posts that support her side of the argument on Twitter, such as the one below.
March 24, 2020: Kim Kardashian issues official statement
Kardashian took to Twitter to finally address the situation. In a lengthy post, the reality star proceeded to slam Swift for choosing to “reignite an old exchange” — although it’s not publicly clear whether Swift did, in fact, leak the video — amid the coronavirus crisis and said she feels “left without a choice but to respond because [Swift] is actually lying.” Read her full statement below.
Following Kim’s statement the hashtag “#KimKardashianIsOverParty” has been trending. Kardashian is facing huge amounts of backlash on social media for her response and involvement in the scandal.
March 24, 2020: Taylor Swift responds
In an Instagram story, Swift finally acknowledged the leaked video. Her response was short but shady — subtly slamming Kardashian aka “somebody” for editing footage and manipulating the public narrative. Read below.