A Complete Timeline of Kanye West & Taylor Swift's Relationship

kanye west taylor swift
Jeff Kravitz/MTV1415/FilmMagic

Kanye West accepts the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from Taylor Swift onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Aug. 30, 2015 in Los Angeles.  

The ever-evolving saga of Kanye West and Taylor Swift's public relationship seems to be a nonstop roller-coaster ride, starting with West interrupting Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, continuing to their public reconciliation, and then devolving all over again thanks to some lightning-rod lyrics and a recorded phone call.

Take a look back at Taylor and Kanye's whirlwind history below, starting with that fateful night in September 2009.

Sept. 13, 2009
It was the awkward awards-show moment heard 'round the world, as West rushed the stage after Taylor Swift was awarded best female video at the MTV Video Music Awards for "You Belong With Me." He infamously told her that he would let her finish, "but Beyonce had the best video of all time." A dumbfounded and upset-looking Taylor left the stage, only to triumphantly return later in the evening. At the time, backlash against West was quick and severe, with even President Obama calling him "a jackass."

Sept. 14, 2009
A day after the VMAs, West appeared in a pre-planned appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. "It's been a difficult day," he explained. "I'm 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...I immediately knew in this situation that it was wrong...It's someone's emotions that I stepped on. It was rude, period."

Sept. 19, 2009
In the days following the awards show, it remained the top pop culture event in the country. On The View, Swift shared that West hadn't called her to personally apologize and said, "I'm not going to say I wasn't rattled by it. I had to perform live five minutes later, so I had to get myself back to the place where I could perform. ... All the other artists who showed me love in the hours following that, I just never imagined there were that many people out there looking out for me."

Nov. 7, 2009
Swift had the last laugh for the time being when she hosted Saturday Night Live. In her well-reviewed monologue song -- which she wrote herself -- she charmingly sent up her image and made the joke everyone was inevitably waiting for about Mr. West stage-crashing.

Sept. 12, 2010
Swift returned to the VMA stage with a performance of the Speak Now track "Innocent," widely believed to be written about West. The performance begins with footage from the infamous 2009 ceremony, then leads into Swift crooning in the chorus, "It's all right/ Just wait and see/ Your string of lights is still bright to me/ Who you are is not where you've been/ You're still an innocent/ ... It's okay/ Life is a tough crowd/ 32 and still growing up now."

October 2010
Appearing on Ellen, West said that following the oversized reaction to "the Taylor Swift incident," he basically had to leave the country, living overseas for a while. Responding to the "why?" West shared, "I feel in some ways I'm a soldier of culture. And I realize no one wants that to be my job. I'll never go onstage again, I'll never sit at an awards show again, but will I feel conflicted about things that meant something to culture that constantly get denied for years and years and years? I'm sorry, I will. I cannot lie about it in order to sell records."

March 2012
No bad blood here! The first notes of a thawing relationship appeared when, as part of her fashion spread for Australian Harper's Bazaar, Swift donned a shirt from West's clothing label (and rocked it, duh).

June 11, 2013
To promote Yeezus, West granted a Q&A to The New York Times. In the wide-ranging Q&A, West briefly discusses Taylor Swift, noting, in part, that he doesn't regret the stage-crash and highlighting his complicated feelings about awards shows, race and fame. "[The Taylor VMA incident] only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is," he said, noting that it was a situation where he gave into peer pressure to apologize.

When asked if he'd take back the original action or the apology, if given the choice, he replied, "You know what? I can answer that, but I’m -- I’m just -- not afraid, but I know that would be such a distraction. It’s such a strong thing, and people have such a strong feeling about it. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was my long, backhanded apology. You know how people give a backhanded compliment? It was a backhanded apology. It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics. I was like: 'Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.'"

Aug. 20, 2013
Embarrassing moment? Sure. But years later, Taylor is finding the humor of the incident with Kanye, writing the infamous words he said to her on a jam jar gift to Ed Sheeran. (Seriously.)

Feb. 8 and 9, 2015
Taylor and Kanye make headlines when they are photographed shaking it off, smiling and having a conversation with each other during the 2015 Grammys ceremony. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest the following day, West claimed, "Taylor Swift came up to me right after [Beck won the album of the year Grammy over Beyonce], like literally afterwards, and tells me I should have went on stage. This is the irony in my life.”

"She wants to get in the studio, and we’re definitely going to go in," he continued. "Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fanbase, I’m down to get in the studio and work. I don’t discriminate."

August 2015
Swift covered Vanity Fair's September issue and gave her version of her slow march toward friendship with West. "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 explained. “I became friends with Jay Z, and I think it was important, for Jay Z, for Kanye and I to get along. ... And 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’s doing."

As for the rumored collaboration: "We haven't planned [any collaboration] ... But hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be."

Aug. 30, 2015
It became a full-circle moment at the 2015 VMAs when Swift presented West the prestigious Video Vanguard Award. While it would be West's remarks that ultimately generated the most chatter afterward, it was a big moment when a grinning Swift took the stage to give an award to her onetime foe.

"I first met Kanye West six years ago -- at this show, actually!" she joked at the beginning of her remarks. "...It seemed like everyone in the world knew about our infamous encounter at the VMAs. But something that you may not know is that Kanye West's album College Dropout was the very first album my brother and I bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old. ... I have 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. 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!"

Only time will tell if the White House -- or, more likely, the Grammy stage -- will bring them together once again. For now, #KanTay2020 #BFFs.

Feb. 12, 2016

With Yeezy season in full swing, the buzz around Kanye West's seventh studio effort The Life of Pablo came in large part to his controversial lyrics on the song "Famous," where he calls out Taylor Swift by name: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous."

Taylor's rep then shared this statement with Billboard at the time, "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single 'Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, "I made that bitch famous.'"

June 16, 2016

West's wife Kim Kardashian graced the cover of GQ and paired it with an in-depth interview where she discussed how Swift had "approved" the lyric, per a recorded phone conversation between the pop singer and 'Ye. The excerpt read:

“She totally approved that,” Kim says, shaking her head in annoyance. “She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn't. I swear, my husband gets so much shit for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.” Kim is on a roll now, speaking faster and more animatedly than at any other point during our time together. “What rapper would call a girl that he was rapping a line about to get approval?”

Swift, Kim insists, “totally gave the okay. Rick Rubin was there. So many respected people in the music business heard that [conversation] and knew. I mean, he's called me a bitch in his songs. That's just, like, what they say. I never once think, [gasping] ‘What a derogatory word! How dare he?’ Not in a million years. I don't know why she just, you know, flipped all of a sudden.… It was funny because [on the call with Kanye, Taylor] 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.’ And I'm like, wait, but [in] your Grammy speech, you completely dissed my husband just to play the victim again.”

Swift's rep then countered with another statement sent to Billboard: "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 reads. "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. Kanye West never told Taylor he was going to use the term ‘that bitch’ in referencing her. A song cannot be approved if it was never heard. Kanye West never played the song for Taylor Swift. Taylor heard it for the first time when everyone else did and was humiliated. Kim Kardashian's claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true, and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone."

July 14, 2016

The drama continued in a teaser for the July 17 episode of E!'s Keeping Up With The Kardashians where Kim defended "talking shit" about Taylor in the ongoing feud with Kanye. "I feel like I've had it with people blatantly treating my husband a certain way and making him look a certain way," Kim said in the clip. "Kanye is always so honest and speaks his mind. When we were first dating, everyone would talk sh-t about me and he always had my back. At this point, I really don't give a f--k so I'll do whatever to protect my husband."?

July 17, 2016

Kim Kardashian Snapchats footage of the recorded video where Kanye and Taylor appear to be on the phone, discussing the "Famous" lyric. While the two speak about the "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex" line, there was no footage of the "I made that bitch famous" bit. Swift appears to perceive the former as a "compliment" in the tape but took to Twitter to explain her piece after the video leak.

"Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that b---h' in his song?," she wrote, per a screenshot of a note. "It doesn't exist because it never happened." She added, "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."

January 15, 2019 

After years of silence on the issue from both ends, Kim Kardashian appeared on Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live, where the host asked her if there's "still a beef with Taylor after all that went down" during the show’s “Squash That Beef!” segment.

"Over it," the makeup mogul replied. "I feel like we've all moved on," she added, before revealing in a different segment that she'd rather be stuck in an elevator with Swift over Drake.

June 30, 2019

Following the news that Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings agreed to acquire Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Label Group, meaning that Braun would also own Swift's entire catalog she released through the label, the songstress took to Tumblr to release a statement. In the note, she mentioned the KimYe beef specifically, noting that the news brought her back to "the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun's] hands for years."

"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," she wrote. "Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it."

August 25, 2019

The 2019 VMAs marked 10 years since the onstage moment that started it all. In the deluxe version of Lover, Swift released personal diary entries from her life, including one from 2009 reflecting on that moment.

“Ahh… the things that can change in a week...Let's just say, if you had told me 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,” she wrote. “If you had told me that I would win the award I was nominated for, I wouldn't have believed you. And 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.’ Well… apparently…. It does.”

September 18, 2019 

Swift was the subject of a wide-ranging profile in Rolling Stone, in which she discussed everything from her music to being a woman in the music industry and her well-known "girl group." She also gave new details about “the events that led up” to the "Famous" phone call. "The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to it," she explained. "Because nothing ever just happens like that without some lead-up. Some events took place to cause me to be pissed off when he called me a bitch. That was not just a singular event. Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I. And that wasn’t just based on what happened on that phone call and with that song — it was kind of a chain reaction of things."

She also mentioned that she thought the two "reconnected" since the 2009 incident. "When someone doesn’t respect you so loudly and says you literally don’t deserve to be here — I just so badly wanted that respect from him, and I hate that about myself, that I was like, 'This guy who’s antagonizing me, I just want his approval.' But that’s where I was. And so we’d go to dinner and stuff."

Swift then said that 'Ye called her up ahead of the 2015 VMAs to ask her to present his Video Vanguard Award. "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!' [His exact words: 'You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award ’cause it got them more 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 shit. And I was so upset."

Kanye then allegedly sent Swift a "big, big thing of flowers" as an apology, and the songstress decided to put their differences behind them. "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," she continued. "And I was like, 'OK, good. We’re back on good terms.' 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 21, 2020

The Twitter trend #KanyeWestIsOverParty reignited the seemingly dormant feud after newly leaked videos of the phone call between West and Swift revealed she didn't lie about giving the rapper permission to use the lyric "I made that bi--- famous" in his 2016 track "Famous." In the videos, West explained to the pop star another controversial lyric he planned to rap about her at the time -- "To all my Southside n---as that know me best/ I feel like Taylor Swift might owe me sex" -- as well as his idea for Swift to tweet out the single as part of the release campaign. She said the line wasn't inherently mean, even expressing relief he wasn't calling her "that stupid dumb bi---," but she hesitated to give out her stamp of approval or massive Twitter platform right away.

March 23, 2020

After the Swifties took over Twitter in a rage, their fearless leader finally tapped the mic to speak up. On her Instagram story, the superstar addressed the new videos but swiftly turned the attention to the World Health Organization and Feeding America donation pages to aid coronavirus relief efforts. "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)... SWIPE UP to see what really matters," she posted, linking out to Feeding America and World Health Organization.

Later that same night, Kim Kardashian West stepped in yet again, brewing the #KimKardashianIsOverParty storm. She crafted a long Twitter thread argument at night that tagged Swift's account to directly call her out for choosing 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" regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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 'bi---' was used without her permission," Kardashian West stated on social media before addressing what she considered to be the crux of the four-year-old controversy. "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 bi---, It was always whether there was a call or not and the tone of the conversation."

The reality TV star also denied claims that she edited her Snapchat footage from 2016 and defended her husband's right to record his musical process as an artist.

After Kardashian West provoked Swift's publicist Tree Paine by saying the "Reputation" artist used her to lie by saying West never called to ask for permission, Paine published an "unedited original statement" that read, "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single 'Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, 'I made that bi--- famous.'"

Additionally, Kardashian West's younger sister Khloé weighed in on the matter, praising his sister's lawyer-like instincts. "I was about to go take my ass to sleep but then I just saw my sister post a couple tweets. Kimberly you betta!!!!!!!!!!!" she tweeted. "Kim is my f---ing lawyer for life!!!!!! My sister AND my lawyer."

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.