This is one narrative none of us can be excluded from.
When Kanye West stormed the stage at the 2009 VMAs and grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift, no one could have guessed that would be the beginning of a decade-long feud between the two artists. These past 10 years have seen Taylor, Kanye and -- eventually -- his wife, Kim Kardashian, make amends only to start beefing again, a true frenemieship filled with ups and downs, olive branches and Twitter rants.
Starting from the beginning, here's a look back at Taylor and Kanye's rather complicated relationship.
Sept. 13, 2009:
"Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!" It's one of the most infamous moments in pop culture history: Taylor won the Best Female Video Award for "You Belong With Me" at the 2009 VMAs and Kanye crashed the stage to support Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."
Beyoncé brought Taylor back up to formally accept her award and, afterward, Taylor said backstage, "I don't want to start anything."
This video is a relic of the zeitgeist. A very, very, very uncomfortable relic.
That night, Kanye took to his blog -- yes, Kanye West had a blog -- to apologize, writing in all caps, "I'm sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom...She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she's in the bleachers! I'm in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!"
Sept. 21, 2009: Kanye took his apology tour to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where he tearfully said, "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."
June 2013: It seems the apology never happened, and four years later, the rapper wasn't sorry anymore. During an interview with The New York Times, he said his instincts have "only led [me] to awesome truth and awesomeness" and declared, "I don't have one regret."
In fact, Kanye claimed he'd been peer pressured into apologizing to Taylor. "I think that I have, like, faltered, you know, as a human. My message isn't perfectly defined. I have, as a human being, fallen to peer pressure," he said.
Feb. 8, 2015:
Still, time heals all wounds -- or whatever -- because by the time the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards rolled around, Kanye and Taylor had seemingly made nice, smiling and posing for pictures together. If the rapper is to be believed, Taylor even suggested he rush the stage again after Beck beat Beyoncé for Album of the Year -- which Kanye kind of did anyway.
"Taylor Swift came up to me right afterwards, literally right afterwards, and tells me that I should've went onstage," he claimed on Ryan Seacrest's radio show. "So, this is the irony of my life."
"She wants to get in the studio and we're definitely going to go in," he said, before adding, "Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fan base, I'm down to get in the studio and work. I don't discriminate."
Feb. 25, 2015:
Ye and Taylor continued their reconciliation at the Brit Awards and Kim Kardashian West more than happily provided the receipts on Instagram. The Brit Awards were actually more about Taylor and Kim bonding, with Taylor bestowing some of her signature awards show dance moves upon Kim during Kanye's "All Day" performance.
April 29, 2015:
Taylor opened up to ET about the now-eagerly collaboration, saying, "We've never been in a studio together, but he's got a lot of amazing ideas."
"He's one of those people that's just like idea, idea, idea," she elaborated on her new buddy, Kanye. "We've talked about it, but we've also talked about so many other things…I completely respect him as a producer. So, that's all I know now."
Months after they seemed to have publicly settled their #feud, Taylor explained to Vanity Fair how the resolution came to be, telling the magazine that she'd learned to "like him as a person."
"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 -- so it was the same issue, and we both reached the same place at the same time," she said. "Then Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I've accomplished, and I could ask him how his kid is doing."
Aug. 30, 2015:
The VMAs hatchet was officially -- and appropriately -- buried at the VMAs, when Taylor presented Kanye with the MTV Video Vanguard Award. "I first met Kanye West six years ago -- at this show, actually!" Taylor joked.
"I've been a fan of his for as long as I can remember because Kanye defines what it means to be a creative force in music, fashion and, well, life," she continued. "So, I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight, I'm really happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time."
Sept. 4, 2015: Kanye thanked Taylor for her sweet words with that bouquet of the same flowers he sends to everyone. Still nice though! "Awwww Kanye sent me the coolest flowers!! #KanTay2020 #BFFs," she captioned the Instagram, which would become her most-liked post at the time.
Feb. 11, 2016:
After all that hard work and mutual respect and saying really nice things about Taylor's music and what she's accomplished, Kanye had to ruin it with one line on the The Life of Pablo song, "Famous."
"I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b**ch famous," he raps.
At the time, Taylor's rep said in a statement that the singer "cautioned [Kanye] about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, 'I made that b**ch famous.'"
Feb. 12, 2016: Or was it Kanye's fault? The day after his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show -- where "Famous" premiered -- he took to Twitter to say, "I did not diss Taylor Swift and I've never dissed her."
"I called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings," he stated in a series of tweets. "I'm not even gone take credit for the idea… it's actually something Taylor came up with. She was having dinner with one of our friends who's name I will keep out of this and she told him, 'I can't be mad at Kanye because he made me famous!' #FACTS."
Feb. 15, 2016:
Taylor subtly slammed Kanye for the controversial lyric while accepting the GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year. "I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments and your fame," she pointedly said.
"But if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people sidetrack you, some day 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," she concluded.
Shortly afterwards, Kanye posted a not-so-cryptic tweet, complaining, "I made Dark Fantasy and Watch the Throne in one year and wasn't nominated for either and you know who has two Albums of the Year."
Feb. 16, 2016:
The tensions escalated to full-on #feud levels when Kanye was recorded calling Taylor a "fake a**" backstage at Saturday Night Live. In the weeks following, he would go on a number of rants about her, including at 1OAK, when he told the crowd, "She not cool no more. She had two seconds to be cool and she f**ked it up."
Meanwhile, Taylor played coy on the drama, covering Vogue and claiming inside the pages, "I think the world is so bored with the saga. I don't want to add anything to it, because then there's just more."
"I guess what I wanted to call attention to in my speech at the GRAMMYs was how it's going to be difficult if you're a woman who wants to achieve something in her life -- no matter what," she told the magazine. "I've had people say really hurtful things about me, and so I've kind of learned how to gauge it."
June 24, 2016:
If Taylor wasn't happy with Kanye's "Famous" song, she certainly wasn't pleased with the video, which featured Kanye in bed with lifelike -- and completely naked -- wax figures of celebs like Kim, Rihanna, Caitlyn Jenner, President Donald Trump and Taylor.
While the "Wildest Dreams" singer didn't speak out on the video, squad member Lena Dunham called the clip "one of the most disturbing 'artistic' efforts in recent memory" and said of Taylor's inclusion in it, "F**k that one hurt to look at, I couldn't look."
The he-said, she-said turned into a she-said, he-said, she-said when Kim got involved, telling GQ that Taylor "totally approved" of the "Famous" lyric during a phone call with Kanye -- and revealed that the conversation had been recorded.
"She said, 'When I get on the GRAMMY red carpet, all the media is going to think that I'm so against this, and I'll just laugh and say, 'The joke's on you, guys. I was in on it the whole time,'" Kim said. "And I'm like, wait, but your GRAMMY speech, you completely dissed my husband just to play the victim again."
Taylor's publicist once again denied it. "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,” the statement read, rebuffing claims that Taylor approved the song.
"Kim Kardashian's claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true," her rep continued, "and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone."
July 17, 2016:
Kim was far from finished, though. Quite the opposite: she had an entire Keeping Up With the Kardashians dedicated to the controversy, with Kim defending talking "s**t" about Taylor to protect her husband.
Then the s**t really hit the fan: Kim took to Snapchat to leak snippets of the incomplete video recording of Kanye's call to Taylor, where Taylor seemingly approves the lyric, calls it a "compliment" and does, in fact, say that she'd tell reporters, when asked, that Kanye called her about the lyrics and that she was in on it.
July 27, 2016: Very quickly after Kim's Snaps went live -- and a #KimExposedTaylorParty began trending on Twitter -- Taylor responded on her social media pages, apparently taking issue with the "that b**ch" part of the lyric. "Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that b**ch' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened," she said.
"Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination," she also said in the statement. "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009."
Nov. 10, 2017:
Taylor releases Reputation, and fans parse through the lyrics looking for commentary on her reignited feud with Kim and Kanye. The first single, "Look What You Made Me Do," and its accompanying music video seem to fire shots at the rapper's "tilted stage" (which Taylor does not like) and embrace the snake emoji motif.
Meanwhile, on "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things," Taylor calls out someone in her life for being "so shady." "It was so nice being friends again / where I was giving you a second chance / but you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand," she sings, a later lyric potentially referencing The Call: "And therein lies the issue / friends don't try to trick you / get you on the phone and mind twist you."
June 30, 2019: In a lengthy message posted to her Tumblr, Taylor again brought up her feud with Kanye when she accused Scooter Braun of bullying her with his purchase of her former record label, Scott Borchetta's Big Machine.
"Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years," she 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."
Aug. 23, 2019:
Taylor debuts her album, Lover, which kicks off with a track ("I Forgot That You Existed") that fans speculate is about Kanye. More explicitly, she shared a number of diary entries with the album, including one written the week of the 2009 VMAs.
"If you had told me that Kanye West would have been the number one focus of my week, the media, and my part in the VMAs, I would've looked at you crossed-eyed. If you had told me that I would win the award I was nominated for, I wouldn't have believed you," she wrote. "If you had told me that one of the biggest stars in music was going to jump up onstage and announce that he thought I shouldn't have won on live television, I would've said, 'That stuff doesn't really happen in real life.' ... Apparently... it does."
Sept. 18, 2019:
In conversation with Rolling Stone, Taylor is asked if she had any regrets about how the now-infamous call with Kanye went down. "Some events took place to cause me to be pissed off when he called me a b***h. That was not just a singular event," she said, providing her experience of the past four years:
"I started to feel like we reconnected, which felt great for me -- because all I ever wanted my whole career after that thing happened in 2009 was for him to respect me...And so we'd go to dinner and stuff. And I was so happy, because he would say really nice things about my music. It just felt like I was healing some childhood rejection or something from when I was 19. But the 2015 VMAs come around. He's getting the Vanguard Award. He called me up beforehand -- I didn't illegally record it, so I can't play it for you. But he called me up, maybe a week or so before the event, and we had maybe over an hour-long conversation, and he's like, 'I really, really would like for you to present this Vanguard Award to me, this would mean so much to me,' and went into all the reasons why it means so much, because he can be so sweet. He can be the sweetest. And I was so stoked that he asked me that. And so I wrote this speech up, and then we get to the VMAs and I make this speech and he screams, 'MTV got Taylor Swift up here to present me this award for ratings!' And I’m standing in the audience with my arm around his wife, and this chill ran through my body. 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 sh*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. So then he sent this big, big thing of flowers the next day to apologize. And I was like, 'You know what? I really don't want us to be on bad terms again. So whatever, I’m just going to move past this.' So when he gets on the phone with me, and I was so touched that he would be respectful and, like, tell me about this one line in the song...And then when I heard the song, I was like, 'I'm done with this. If you want to be on bad terms, let's be on bad terms, but just be real about it.'"
March 20, 2020: A 25-minute video of the Kanye-Taylor call leaks online, including bits Kim had not previously included on Snapchat. In the seemingly uncut footage, Kanye warns Taylor that he wrote a "controversial line" about her. "Is it gonna be mean?" she asks.
After Kanye raps, "I feel like Taylor Swift might owe me sex," Taylor laughs, "That's not mean," later adding, "It is absolutely crazy. I’m glad it’s not mean though. It doesn’t feel mean, but like, oh my god. The build-up you gave it. I thought it was gonna be like, 'That stupid, dumb, b***h.' But it’s not." The video, notably, does not include mention of the second half of the lyric.
March 23, 2020: As fans parsed through Taylor and Kim's social media likes in search of reaction to the new leak, Taylor is the first to directly address it: "Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that was 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)... SWIPE UP to see what really matters," she wrote on her Instagram Stories.
Taylor's post instead directed fans to donate to World Health Organization and Feeding America amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Because not even social distancing can stop this feud.
March 23, 2020, 8:57 p.m.:
.@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.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 24, 2020
Though Kim seemingly agreed that there are more important things to focus on -- in the words of Kourtney Kardashian, "Kim, there's people that are dying" -- she still issued a nine-part Twitter response to Taylor's Instagram message. "@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," Kim tweeted.
The rebuttal continued as follows:
"I didn't feel the need to comment a few days ago, and I'm actually really embarrassed and mortified to be doing it right now, but because she continues to speak on it, I feel I'm left without a choice but to respond because she is actually lying. To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that 'Kanye never called to ask for permission...' They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word 'b***h' was used without her permission."
"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.' "The lie was never about the word b***h, It was always whether there was a call or not and the tone of the conversation. I never edited the footage (another lie) - I only posted a few clips on Snapchat to make my point and the full video that recently leaked doesn't change the narrative."
"This will be the last time I speak on this because honestly, nobody cares," she concluded.
March 23, 2020, 10:09 p.m.:
I’m Taylor’s publicist and this is my UNEDITED original statement. Btw, when you take parts out, that’s editing.— Tree Paine (@treepaine) March 24, 2020
P.S. who did you guys piss off to leak that video? 😂😂😂 https://t.co/AtMGUp3t24 pic.twitter.com/EjGDwAdL6O
Following Kim's response to Taylor's response, the latter's longtime publicist, Tree Paine, issued her own missive, taking to her Twitter to respond to Kim: "I'm Taylor's publicist and this is my UNEDITED original statement. Btw, when you take parts out, that’s editing," she tweeted. " P.S. who did you guys piss off to leak that video?"
Will Taylor and Kanye ever make up for good? Will this really be the last time Kim speaks on this? Does everyone really not care anymore? Only time will tell. (But we're guessing the answer is no!)