Kanye West’s actions at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, where he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, marked a pivotal moment in their dynamic. The controversy resurfaced in 2016 with West’s song “Famous,” leading to a publicized feud involving Kim Kardashian. Swift, in a recent interview with TIME, unveiled the emotional toll of this period on her life, describing it as a time when she felt her career was taken away.
Swift shared how she transformed her life after the incident, even isolating herself in a foreign country for a year. The trauma led her to push away people and avoid phone calls due to a lack of trust. The culmination of events in 2016, from the release of “Famous” to the publicized video and subsequent social media frenzy, played a significant role in Swift’s emotional struggle.
The singer-songwriter’s team denied her approval of the controversial lyric, leading to a series of events that included Kardashian releasing footage of a conversation between West and Swift. This fueled a narrative casting Swift as a liar, inundating her social media with snake emojis and accusations. Swift’s response, expressing her desire to be excluded from the narrative, became iconic.
Swift reemerged from this challenging period with her “Reputation” era, featuring snake imagery and references to the Kanye drama. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Swift recounted her surprise at the offensive “Famous” lyric, especially after positive interactions with West. The leaked fuller version of their conversation in March 2020 confirmed Swift’s lack of approval, challenging Kardashian’s narrative.
With Swift’s recent TIME interview, renewed attention has been directed at Kardashian, with calls for an apology. Swift emphasized the psychological toll of the incident, describing it as a manufactured frame job and an illegally recorded, edited phone call that took her to a place of unprecedented psychological distress.