Mmm, Beef. A dish most delicious and definitely best served piping hot. However, as the sun sets on another decade, it’s time for us here at Pedestrian to get a little nostalgic about another kind of beef. CELEBRITY BEEF. I’m recapping what I believe to be one of the decade’s most defining and important storylines – the beef between Kanye West and Taylor Swift.
As a lifelong Kanye superfan (‘Jesus is King’, even), this epic tale of Shakespearean proportions still gives me chills to this day. It’s also given me some trust issues that I’m pretty sure I didn’t have before this all went down.
Yes, at the moment the Taylor/Kanye beef is cold. You could even say its straight from the depths of your freezer drawer that’s always stuck. But under the glad wrap it still smells good enough to eat or at least give to the dog, because trust me, once I popped her back on the stove she was be just as juicy (and dare I say saucy) as she once was.
1. The VMAs
We all know where the Taylor Swift/Kanye West feud started, it needs no explanation. But let’s recap just for the scalding awkwardness, yeah?
At the 2009 VMAs, Taylor wins Best Video by a Female Artist. She gets up to accept the award but is interrupted by Kanye West, who takes the mic and tells everyone Beyonce had the best music video of the year. So began our rift between Kanye and Taylor.
2. “I Feel Like Me And Taylor Might Still Have Sex”
So by 2015, Yeezy and Tay Tay were seemingly in a great place. They both had previously released songs addressing the incident – Kanye was sorry and Taylor was forgiving.
On Kanye’s ‘Monster’: “I crossed the line, and I’ll let god decide.”
On Taylor Swifts ‘Innocent’ “Thirty two and still growin’ up now/ Who you are is not what you did/ You’re still an innocent.”
Both appeared to be stronger from the experience. Their careers were simultaneously sky high and their relationship had undergone such a positive transformation that Taylor even presented the Vanguard Award to Kanye at the 2015 MTV VMAs, referring to him as “my friend” in her speech. All was fair in love and war, and T-Swizzle had the cube of flowers and hashtags to prove it.
But then in 2016, ‘The Life Of Pablo’ was released. It included the song ‘Famous’, which contained the very lyrics that would cause an eventual beefy shit storm.
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why? I made that bitch famous”.
After the scandy lyrics sent the interwebs (particularly Taylor Swift fans) into a frenzy, Taylor’s rep released a statement saying that Taylor was never warned about the song, and didn’t appreciate the misogynistic message.
Kanye disagreed, taking to Twitter to defend himself – remember, he had worked really hard for years to repair his image after the “Imma let you finish” incident. He did not want it tarnished again c/o Taylor Swift.
But! He also went one step further and involved a realistic model of Taylor in his ‘Famous’ exhibition, which featured various models of famous people all lying naked in a bed with Kanye.
A few days later, Taylor wins the Album of The Year Grammy for her album ‘1989’, and uses her acceptance speech to turn the clock back to 2009, repainting Kanye as the bully the public once saw him as, and judging from the applause and overwhelming online support she received, it worked really well. Kanye was the villain once again.
But!! Enter player three, Kim Kardashian. In a GQ article that conveniently landed weeks later, she claimed to have evidence of Taylor Swift giving permission for those lyrics to be used in the song. Kim said the evidence was recorded as part of a documentary being filmed of the making of ‘The Life of Pablo’. Taylor’s lawyers hit Kimye with some pretty hefty legal threats telling her to destroy the tape, but what happened next is the kind of stuff that gives angels their wings and gossip fiends their receipts.
3. The Snapchat
Kim uploaded the smoking gun to Snapchat. The ‘receipt’, if you will. Not only did the video evidence exist, it was overwhelmingly in Kanye’s favour. You can clearly hear Taylor on the phone to Kanye, giving permission for the lyrics to be used, even calling them “a compliment” and finishing with “I really appreciate you telling me about this, it’s really nice”.
If Kim didn’t break the internet with that champagne butt pic for Paper mag, she did it with this Snapchat. It was one of those moments where you remember where you were when you first heard about it. I was on Twitter, waiting on the kids I nannied to finish their swimming lessons, my nose filled with the dizzyingly thick chlorinated air only Ryde indoor swimming pool can provide. I happened to be wearing my Kanye badge at the time, in support of him amid the turmoil of the past few months. It’s just the kind of fan I am.
I was so shocked that Taylor Swift would want to do Kanye dirty like that. Was it her revenge for the VMAs? Did she change her mind about the lyrics after her fans took offence? I felt like I had just witnessed a modern day celebrity ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ – Kim naturally starring as Atticus Finch. Thanks heavens the kids didn’t drown that day, as I wouldn’t have noticed for quite some time.
Kim posted on Twitter the same day:
Just like that, it was officially Snake Day. Scoot over Christmas, this was the most important holiday of the year!
It was snowing snakes on Taylor’s socials, and I for one could not look away. Not to mention #KimExposedTaylorParty shot to the top of the trending hashtags on twitter and birthed some pretty fuego memes.
Even Katy Perry (I can only imagine as violently high on ‘I told you so’ as possible at this point) got in on the drama, retweeting her old tweet from a couple years back.
Swift swiftly responded via both Twitter and Instagram the next day.
I still quote this to this day, usually to my mother when we text fight. “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 1993”.
4. Look What You Made Me Do
So about a month later, Tay Tay deleted all her Instagram and Twitter posts and is essentially silent for over a year. When she emerged, a new, post-snake-day Taylor was born. Remember when the “Look What You Made Me Do” song/video came out? Of course you do.
Taylor had risen from the dead, and she had a diss track that would comparatively make 2pac’s ‘Hit Em Up’ sound like a Wiggles song.
“I don’t like your tilted stage (referring to Kanye’s floating stage on ‘The Life of Pablo’ tour),
The role you made me play,
I don’t like your perfect crime,
How you laugh when you lie,
You said the gun was mine.”
Also, that first shot in the music video? “Here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation” on a tombstone?! I was sooo here for it, props to Taylor – it was fearless, fabulous and I encourage you to watch it again.
It’s safe to say that Taylor still hasn’t been able to completely “shake off” the stench of dishonesty that still surrounds her following all of this. But in a pretty boss move, she just went with it and made it part of her personal brand. I guess she hasn’t had much of a choice, but it’s still some impressive spin. Even the first shot of 2019’s “You Need To Calm Down” video, Swift sports a giant back tattoo of a snake hissing at butterflies.
On November 4 this year, Kim Kardashian posted a Snapchat with Taylor Swift’s song ‘Lover’ playing in the background. It’s a nice glimmer of hope for reconciliation. As they say, time heals all wounds, and we are all learning to love and trust again, slowly but surely.
As much as Tay wants to be excluded from the narrative, I don’t think it’s over by a long shot. I wonder what the 2020s will bring for these three… watch this space.