Inside Taylor Swift and Kanye West's Mega Feud That Began at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

Kelly Corbett - Author

Dec. 7 2023, Published 2:42 p.m. ET

taylor swift kanye west
Source: getty images

The Gist:

  • Taylor Swift and Kanye West began feuding in 2009 after he interrupted her at the VMAs as she was accepting an award.
  • Kanye did apologize and they stayed somewhat friendly until dropping "Famous" in 2016 which contains the lyrics "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b---h famous.”
  • Kanye did call Taylor to discuss the lyrics, but he only shared part of the lyrics with her.
  • Kim Kardashian recorded this phone call without Taylor knowing and then shared it on social media to show that Kanye had asked Taylor's permission, ultimately mortifying Taylor.
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Taylor Swift is done trying to take down the haters. As she told TIME magazine for her 2023 Person of the Year cover story, “Trash takes itself out every single time.”

One of her biggest enemies is Kanye West. There have been tensions between them since the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, which took place on Sept. 13, 2009. While the then-fresh-faced country singer was accepting the Moonman for Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me,” Kanye ambushed her on stage, took the mic, and said: “Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!"

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No, that was not scripted. That was real life and that was the impetus for their years-long feud that currently seems to have naturally fizzled out. Textbooks could be written about their interactions and all that has transpired since. But I’ll do you a solid and just give you the cheat sheet for Taylor and Kanye’s feud.

Kanye West took the microphone from Taylor Swift onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sept. 13, 2009 in New York City
Source: getty images

Kanye West took the microphone from Taylor Swift onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sept. 13, 2009 in New York City

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What happened between Taylor Swift and Kanye West?

After the VMAs incident in which Kanye took the microphone from Taylor as she was accepting her award and claimed Beyoncé should have won, Kanye posted an apology on his blog that night.

The next day Kanye appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and said he was ashamed of his outburst and wished he could apologize to her in person. The day after that, Taylor confirmed she called him to apologize and she accepted.

The following year, Taylor returned to the VMAs, performing a new song named "Innocent," which has been rumored to be about Kanye, with glaring lyric references like "It's okay, and life is a tough crowd / Thirty-two and still growing up now / Who you are is not what you did / You're still an innocent." In the song, Taylor seemingly is claiming that she forgives him, claiming that he's still "Innocent" in her eyes.

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A few years pass and Taylor and Kanye appear to be friendly in the public eye. In 2015, she presented him with MTV’s Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs and they seemed chummy.

But in Feb 2016, Kanye released his song “Famous” which names Taylor in a lyric ("I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b---h famous”)

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He quickly came under fire for the lyrics as fans felt it was disrespectful. Kanye claimed he got permission from Taylor to name-drop her. Then-wife Kim Kardashian backed him up.

Kanye then released the “Famous” music video which featured a naked sculpture resembling Taylor and included background audio from that fateful night at VMAS. Taylor would eventually refer to the "Famous" music video as “revenge porn.”

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Kim released video footage of the conversation between Kanye and Taylor on Snapchat, where Taylor is read the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” to which Taylor didn't have an issue with.

But as Taylor and her rep maintain, she was never made fully aware of the I made that b—h famous line. Taylor also didn't know the phone call was being recorded.

In November 2017, Taylor released her new album “Reputation,” and the song “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” is believed to be about Kanye.

In 2020, the full phone conversation was leaked online and Taylor agreed to part of the lyric but as she maintained, the "made that b---h famous" line was not run by her.

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Taylor Swift called the controversy surrounding Kanye West's "Famous" a "career death."

Taylor claimed that Kanye releasing "Famous" and the chaos that ensued after was “a career death.”

“Make no mistake — my career was taken away from me,” she told the outlet. “You have a fully manufactured frame job, in an illegally recorded phone call, which Kim Kardashian edited and then put out to say to everyone that I was a liar."

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Taylor claimed that the whole incident "took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before." In fact, she said she moved to a foreign country and didn't leave her rental house for a year. "I was afraid to get on phone calls."

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