The two recording titans have been locked in pop culture battle royale ever since Kanye interrupted Taylor’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to say she didn’t deserve the trophy over Beyoncé.
Their relationship improved somewhat in the years that followed, but came to a screeching and snake-fueled finish when Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian released secret footage of a phone call in which Swift appeared to approve a lyric from West’s song “Famous” (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ I made that bitch famous”) that Taylor had previously spoken against.
Taylor, caught in what seemed like a lie, receded from the spotlight for months, then came back swinging with her album Reputation.
Now, the singer-songwriter is saying in the Rolling Stone article that fans “didn’t understand the context and the events” that precipitated the infamous phone call, and she’s calling out Kanye as a “two-faced” manipulator.
“Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I,” Taylor told the magazine. “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 admitted she “just wanted so badly that respect from him” after their VMAs clash, and said the two were actually on their way to healing the wounds, going out to dinners together and complimenting each other’s music.
“I hate that about myself, that I was like, “This guy who’s antagonising me, I just want his approval,” she said. “But that’s where I was.”
Things between them took a turn for the unfortunate when Kanye asked Taylor to present the Vanguard Award to him at the 2015 ceremony.
“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,’” Taylor said, commenting that she didn’t record the call. He “went into all the reasons why it means so much”, adding “Because he can be so sweet. He can be the sweetest.”
When it came time for Kanye to accept the award, the Yeezy mogul claimed on stage that it actually had been MTV that roped Taylor into the presentation duties as a way to boost ratings.
“I’m standing in the audience with my arm around his wife, and this chill ran through my body,” Taylor recalled of watching with Kim Kardashian from the crowd. “I realised 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.”
Taylor said she still wasn’t ready to tank their growing relationship just yet, and accepted Kanye’s apology, along with a massive bouquet of flowers the next day, pledging to “move past this”.
And now we arrive at that phone call. Taylor said she initially was “touched that he would be respectful” and run the line from his song past her before releasing it.
But hearing the line in full ― Taylor maintained that she did not approve the “I made that bitch famous” lyric ― nailed shut the chance of a Swift-West detente, and she posted her famous “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” entreaty on Twitter.
“When I heard the song, I was like, ‘I’m done with this,’” Swift said. “If you want to be on bad terms, let’s be on bad terms, but just be real about it.”
And so they were.
Read the profile of Taylor Swift at Rolling Stone.