An In-Depth History of Taylor Swift and Kanye West's Relationship: From Enemies to Friends and Back Again

It all began at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

By Francesca Bacardi Feb 12, 2016 8:41 PMTags
Taylor Swift, Kanye WestSharpshooter Images/Splash, Raymond Hall/GC Images

Say it isn't so.

Who could've expected that Kanye West and Taylor Swift, two incredibly different people with two very different musical interests, would become even more famous as a result of their unlikely feud? How does a country music singer-turned-pop star find herself publicly spatting with one of the most popular rappers of a generation?

Let's reflect, shall we?

It all began in 2009, which at this point seems like it was decades ago, at MTV's Video Music Awards. Taylor was just a wee 19-year-old singer who had made waves with her self-titled debut album and its follow-up, Fearless. She won the Best Female Video award for "You Belong With Me," and took to the stage to thank country music (just to put in perspective how much time has gone by, considering now she's a certified pop star). But Kanye would quickly steal her sunshine when he stormed the stage in an attempt to defend his BFF Beyoncé, who was nominated in the same category for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

"Imma let you finish, but..." we all know how it ends.

She later told E! News that it ruined her moment. "I was standing onstage and I was really excited because I had just won an award, and then I was really excited because Kanye West was on the stage," Taylor told us in the press room at the time. "And then, um, I wasn't so excited anymore after that."

Beyoncé cringed so hard while sitting in the audience, Taylor looked like she was about to cry and Kanye concealed his face with a pair of oversized sunglasses. It was all so awkward. To be honest, it hasn't gotten any easier to watch, so we can't imagine what these three think about it, but little did we know there would be so much more to come. This moment in music history started their feud, but several apologies later these two would transition into mere frenemies, and eventually, colleagues who "respect" each other.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

After the onstage ordeal went down, T.Swift told ABC Radio that Yeezy phoned to say sorry. "Kanye did call me and he was very sincere in his apology, and I accepted that apology," she said. That her fans and friends supported her made the real difference.

"The support I got from other artists and from the fans, and so many people sticking up for me, that's what got me to the place where I could accept that apology," she continued. "And I'm just very thankful that everyone showed me so much love."

One year later Kanye would go on an epic Twitter rant, apologizing again to Taylor for his actions and explaining why he did what he did—all in the name of friendship, of course. "She had nothing to do with my issues with award shows," he wrote apologetically. "She had no idea what hit her. She's justa lil girl with dreams like the rest of us. She deserves the apology more than anyone. Beyonce didn't need that. MTV didn't need that and Taylor and her family friends and fans definitely didn't want or need that."

He also admitted he wrote a song for her, but if she didn't want to perform it he would understand—and would perform it himself so that she'd get the message. "I am not a bad person," said The Life of Pablo rapper. "Even in that moment I was only trying to do good but people don't always need my help. I've hurt, I've bled, I've learned."

In 2011 'Ye appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno to apologize once more. "Just dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away from a talented artist or from anyone because I only wanted to help people my entire life," he explained. "I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong. It's actually someone's emotions."

The "Style" singer seemed to develop the ability to laugh about the whole situation, as she mocked it a couple of times in 2013. She sent one of her own BFFs, Ed Sheeran, a jar of jam and wrote, "Yo Ed — I'm really happy 4 you and I'm gonna let u finish but this is the best JAM OF ALL TIME. — T." Way to turn a sour moment into something sweet, Taylor—literally! When she found out she was nominated for more VMAs that year, she tweeted, "Two VMA nominations!! If you vote and get us one, I promise to keep a firmer grip on the mic this time ;)."

A slight dig or a good joke? You decide.

The "Jesus Walks" rapper also told Ryan Seacrest in 2013 that he had apologized to her several times. "You know what? I would not want some crazy drunk rock star cutting my daughter [North West] off also," he admitted.

But by the time 2013 rolled around, Kanye had started to become the Kanye we now know him as, so he added a slight asterisk to his point. "My daughter would 100-percent also be like, 'Yes Beyoncé did have the best video.' That's what my daughter would do!"

Keep in mind his daughter would not have yet been two years old at this point, but apparently he already knew what her taste in music would be.

After years of apologies Kanye and Taylor finally buried the hatchet at last year's Grammy Awards. T. Swift caught up with Kanye and wife Kim Kardashian and even posed for some photos. The duo would really come full circle when she would present him with the Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs. "I'm really happy for you and Imma let you finish but Kanye has had one of the greatest careers of all time," Swift playfully joked as the honoree prepared to deliver his speech.

Larry Busacca/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV

To thank her for a job well done, Kanye sent her a giant block of white roses. "Awww Kanye sent me the coolest flowers!! #KanTay2020 #BFFs," she captioned the pic.

The flowers a gorgeous, but they did look like they had just been clipped from Kim's famous flower wall that Kanye had erected for Mother's Day. It's the thought that counts though, right? It wasn't until GQ's November 2015 issue was released that we were fully convinced of their solidified friendship.

"That was the most happenstance thing to ever happen in my career," she said of the 2009 VMAs incident, "and to now be in a place where Kanye and I respect each other—that's one of my favorite things that has happened in my career."

It only took six years, but Taylor and Kanye really did become friends—until yesterday. Years' worth of effort and apologies went right down the drain as soon as Kanye previewed his new album at Madison Square Garden. As soon as "Famous" began to play it was all over.

"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous," the rapper, 38, bragged.

Swift's squad wasted no time in pledging their allegiance to her. Her brother, Austin Swift, immediately posted a video of himself throwing away his pair of Yeezys. Jaime King tweeted, "I'm so sad right now & disappointed right now. I stand by my sister. Always." Gigi Hadid, who was at the event, tweeted her loyalty.

When a report surfaced that claimed Kanye had run the lyric by Taylor for approval, her rep told E! News that wasn't true. Kanye then went on a Twitter rant Friday morning saying he did, in fact, ask Taylor and she was the one responsible for the lyric, as she cracked the joke about her fame at a dinner.

It's a classic he-said-she-said, but because the 2016 Grammy Awards are happening on Monday, there's a chance either (or both) Kanye or Taylor will address the controversial lyrics. We'll just have to wait to find out.

It's safe to say, however, that these two took several steps forward over the past few years, but it only took one line of one song to make them fall 10 steps back.