Even amid Meek Mill versus Drake and 50 Cent versus Floyd Mayweather, no feud has ever been stranger or more entertaining over the past decade than that of Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Who knew that a rapper and a country-star-turned-pop-princess could be so at odds with each other, let alone even talk to each other? If we—unfortunately—cannot call the bizarre “Accidental Racist” collaboration between LL Cool J and Brad Paisley the first, then we should be glad it was Yeezy and T-Swizz in light of this week's megastar drama. Before we dive into their newest who-said-what debacle, let’s take a cursory look at how we got here in the first place.
It is common knowledge that Kanye West did not "make" Taylor Swift famous. Before Kanye notoriously stole the stage at the 2009 VMAs and interrupted Swift while receiving her award, she was already pretty popular. The 2008 album Fearless is now considered Taylor’s breakout record, with hits like “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story" garnering the starlet mass appeal. At the time, it merely seemed as if Ye was raining on Swift’s parade when he stormed the VMAs.
Upon second investigation, however, the incident does appear to have helped her cause. Swift’s follow-up record Speak Now amassed over twice as many sold copies as Fearless did in the first week: over 1 million to Fearless’s 415,000. Fans accredit the statistics to Swift’s growing popularity at the time. She was no longer simply a country artist, but a role model for teens and tweens across America—bolstered as she was by a meticulously preserved, squeaky clean reputation, even amidst her numerous pop star relationships. There is little doubt, however, that Taylor scored some public pity points for Ye’s performance.
After Kanye made his “comeback” with the critically acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it appeared that tension began to subside between him and Taylor. At one point, both even claimed to be friends and were looking to collaborate on future projects.
But then, of course, Kanye was once again Kanye. On his latest effort The Life of Pablo, the rapper opens the chorus to "Famous" feeling that “Me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b**** famous." When Taylor accepted her second Album of the Year Grammy for 1989 days later, she took both the high road and the upper hand once again.
"There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," Swift remarked in her acceptance speech. "But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday 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."
All of a sudden, time rewinds to the bitterness of 2009. Boom. Pow. Kanye down for the count. Yet we know Kanye better than that—when he's down, he gets right back up. Ye’s publicist and wife Kim Kardashian-West both publicly stated that Kanye called Taylor and received her approval regarding the song lyrics. Taylor denied these claims.
When the “Famous” music video premiered to a live audience in a Los Angeles theater and on Jay-Z’s music platform Tidal, fans were shocked to see Kanye lined up with a plethora of celebrities naked and partially exposed in bed. Naturally, Taylor was one of them. While this move does have Kanye written all over it, it is highly unlikely that Swift would approve of this particular stunt. Luckily for her, most of the internet did not approve either. Ye was scolded for publicly humiliating his frenemies—an act he thought would be considered “art." Taylor seemed to walk out of the “Famous” situation victorious.
However, she apparently forgot the most important rule of the all—never mess with a Kardashian. Kim took to Snapchat with video evidence that Ye got approval from Swift on the lyrics. In the clip, we can hear on speaker phone that she voiced approval.
Sure, we all love to hate Kanye, but now he has the whole crowd saying “Ouch. Not cool, Taylor.” Taylor is fighting back saying she never approved the “b****” part of the chorus, but the evidence speaks volumes.
With all aspects considered, we have to truly start questioning if Kanye was right all along. Did he actually make her famous? Is she actually taking advantage of Kanye’s aggressive, in-your-face nature to gain sympathy? Most likely, this has been happening the whole time, and there is no reason to stop now. Because of their back-and-forth bickering, both have made headlines and profited accordingly. If anything, this whole Kanye/Swift fight has proved over the years that, as any rich celebrity knows, all press is good press. Now that Taylor and her lawyers might finally bring this to court, we’ll have to wait and see how much more good press there is to come.