By now, I think every single person with a passing interest in gossip or pop culture knows the basic gist of the Kanye West-Taylor Swift saga. Ten years ago, Kanye bum-rushed Taylor at the VMAs, stole her moment and her mic and “Imma let you finish…” became instantly iconic. Time passed. Kanye apologized a million times. Kanye and Taylor both made lots of music and both became even more successful and even more popular. At some point, it seemed like they truly buried the hatchet. At the 2015 VMAs, Taylor presented Kanye with his Vanguard Award.
Then, in January/February 2016, sh-t fell apart again. Kanye released The Life of Pablo, and one of the songs was “Famous,” which included the lyrics: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.” As soon as it came out, Taylor turned on Kanye publicly, and acted like the lyrics were so inappropriate. Kanye tried to tell people that he had gotten Tay’s permission, but the Tay-Victim train was already on the tracks. It wasn’t until months later that Kim Kardashian posted (on Snapchat) the tape of the conversation Kanye and Taylor had over the phone about the lyrics. To be fair to Tay, all the Snaps proved was that she gave her permission for the “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex” line. To be fair to Kanye, he was telling the truth about seeking her approval and she even told him that it was no problem if he wanted to name-check her. She had played it for months like Kanye had not even given her a heads up, when clearly, he did.
Why all this background? Because three years after the Summer of Receipts, Taylor is still talking about that sh-t. Kanye and Kim have truly moved on – they haven’t mentioned her in YEARS. Meanwhile, Taylor lives her entire life boiling with rage about how Kim briefly owned her publicly. Kimye lives in Taylor’s head rent-free in the year of our lord 2019. All of this is from Taylor’s completely bonkers Rolling Stone interview, which you can read here.
The hate frenzy of 2016: “People love a hate frenzy. It’s like piranhas. People had so much fun hating me, and they didn’t really need very many reasons to do it. I felt like the situation was pretty hopeless. I wrote a lot of really aggressively bitter poems constantly. I wrote a lot of think pieces that I knew I’d never publish, about what it’s like to feel like you’re in a shame spiral. And I couldn’t figure out how to learn from it. Because I wasn’t sure exactly what I did that was so wrong. That was really hard for me, because I cannot stand it when people can’t take criticism. So I try to self-examine, and even though that’s really hard and hurts a lot sometimes, I really try to understand where people are coming from when they don’t like me. And I completely get why people wouldn’t like me. Because, you know, I’ve had my insecurities say those things — and things 1,000 times worse.
The context behind Kanye’s phone call to her about “Famous”: “The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to it. 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.”
Reconnecting with Kanye in 2015: “I started to feel like we reconnected, which felt great for me — because all I ever wanted my whole career after that thing happened in 2009 was for him to respect me. 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. And I was so happy, because he would say really nice things about my music. It just felt like I was healing some childhood rejection or something from when I was 19.”
The 2015 VMAs: “But the 2015 VMAs come around. He’s getting the Vanguard Award. He called me up beforehand — I didn’t illegally record it, so I can’t play it for you. But he called me up, maybe a week or so before the event, and we had maybe over an hourlong 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,” and went into all the reasons why it means so much, because he can be so sweet. 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 sh-t. And I was so upset. He wanted me to come talk to him after the event in his dressing room. I wouldn’t go. So then he sent this big, big thing of flowers the next day to apologize. And I was like, “You know what? I really don’t want us to be on bad terms again. So whatever, I’m just going to move past this.”
The call about “Famous”: “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…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.” And then he literally did the same thing to Drake. He gravely affected the trajectory of Drake’s family and their lives. It’s the same thing. Getting close to you, earning your trust, detonating you. I really don’t want to talk about it anymore because I get worked up, and I don’t want to just talk about negative sh-t all day, but it’s the same thing. Go watch Drake talk about what happened. [West denied any involvement in Pusha-T’s revelation of Drake’s child and apologized for sending “negative energy” toward Drake.]
Reader, I laughed when she brought up DRAKE! Drake tried to hide a whole-ass child from the world and Pusha T spilled all the TEA and Kanye was like “I want no part of this!” Seriously, the most anyone could ever say about Kanye’s involvement in the Drake-Pusha thing is that he was possibly-maybe indiscreet about some gossip. Kanye wasn’t pushing Pusha T to spill the tea about Drake’s child. And Taylor is like “THIS IS KANYE’S FAULT TOO!”
I’m not going to get into as much detail as Taylor about all the timelines and all of that, partly because Rolling Stone was kind of calling her out on her bullsh-t through their bracketed notes too. Kanye wasn’t criticizing Taylor in his 2015 VMA speech, he was criticizing MTV for turning the sh-t into a circus. And I remember that Kanye sent Taylor flowers after the VMAs too – he didn’t send them as an apology, he sent them as a f–king “thank you.” But do you see how everything gets distorted in TayWorld? When you live inside your own ass, you see everything through the prism of “I’m always the victim in every story.” What’s f–ked up is that if Taylor actually let some sh-t go and stopped misrepresenting herself into a corner, we might actually be able to see, “oh right, Kanye is a piece of sh-t for this and that.” We know Kanye’s problematic behavior well enough – she should not have to work this f–king hard to villainize him, you know?
Photos courtesy of Getty.
Let me just start by saying that my mouth fell open while reading Taylor Swift’s Rolling Stone cover story, and to really feel the waves of insanity and just SWIFTINESS wash over you, I would recommend reading the entire thing yourself. It’s bonkers and really give yourself some time to really enjoy it. I won’t even have the space to really expand on so many of Taylor’s lengthy rants, and I’ve separated the Kanye West part of the interview into a second post. Strap in. Let’s go. Some highlights:
She’d had some upheavals in her career before the Reckoning of 2016: “I’ve had several upheavals in my career. When I was 18, they were like, “She doesn’t really write those songs.” So my third album I wrote by myself as a reaction to that. Then they decided I was a serial dater — a boy-crazy man-eater — when I was 22. And so I didn’t date anyone for, like, two years. And then they decided in 2016 that absolutely everything about me was wrong. If I did something good, it was for the wrong reasons. If I did something brave, I didn’t do it correctly. If I stood up for myself, I was throwing a tantrum. And so I found myself in this endless mockery echo chamber.”
Whether she has regrets about the “girl squad” thing: “Yeah, I never would have imagined that people would have thought, “This is a clique that wouldn’t have accepted me if I wanted to be in it.” Holy sh-t, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, “Oh, this did not go the way that I thought it was going to go.” I thought it was going to be we can still stick together, just like men are allowed to do. The patriarchy allows men to have bro packs. If you’re a male artist, there’s an understanding that you have respect for your counterparts.
Her relationship with Scott Borchetta, her old Big Machine boss: “A lot of the best things I ever did creatively were things that I had to really fight — and I mean aggressively fight — to have happen. But, you know, I’m not like him, making crazy, petty accusations about the past. . . . When you have a business relationship with someone for 15 years, there are going to be a lot of ups and a lot of downs. But I truly, legitimately thought he looked at me as the daughter he never had. And so even though we had a lot of really bad times and creative differences, I was going to hang my hat on the good stuff. I wanted to be friends with him. I thought I knew what betrayal felt like, but this stuff that happened with him was a redefinition of betrayal for me, just because it felt like it was family. To go from feeling like you’re being looked at as a daughter to this grotesque feeling of “Oh, I was actually his prized calf that he was fattening up to sell to the slaughterhouse that would pay the most.”
Borchetta’s claim that she declined performing at the Parkland & Manchester benefits: “Unbelievable. Here’s the thing: Everyone in my team knew if Scooter Braun brings us something, do not bring it to me. The fact that those two are in business together after the things he said about Scooter Braun — it’s really hard to shock me. And this was utterly shocking. These are two very rich, very powerful men, using $300 million of other people’s money to purchase, like, the most feminine body of work. And then they’re standing in a wood-panel bar doing a tacky photo shoot, raising a glass of scotch to themselves. Because they pulled one over on me and got this done so sneakily that I didn’t even see it coming. And I couldn’t say anything about it.
How right-wing people thought she was on their side: “I don’t think they do anymore. Yeah, that was jarring, and I didn’t hear about that until after it had happened. Because at this point, I, for a very long time, I didn’t have the internet on my phone, and my team and my family were really worried about me because I was not in a good place. And there was a lot of stuff that they just dealt with without telling me about it. Which is the only time that’s ever happened in my career.”
When the white supremacists called her their Aryan princess: “I didn’t even see that, but, like, if that happened, that’s just disgusting. There’s literally nothing worse than white supremacy. It’s repulsive. There should be no place for it. Really, I keep trying to learn as much as I can about politics, and it’s become something I’m now obsessed with, whereas before, I was living in this sort of political ambivalence, because the person I voted for had always won. We were in such an amazing time when Obama was president because foreign nations respected us. We were so excited to have this dignified person in the White House. My first election was voting for him when he made it into office, and then voting to re-elect him. I think a lot of people are like me, where they just didn’t really know that this could happen. But I’m just focused on the 2020 election. I’m really focused on it. I’m really focused on how I can help and not hinder. Because I also don’t want it to backfire again, because I do feel that the celebrity involvement with Hillary’s campaign was used against her in a lot of ways.
She convinced herself that endorsing Hillary Clinton would backfire: “That’s literally what it was. Yeah. It’s a very powerful thing when you legitimately feel like numbers have proven that pretty much everyone hates you. Like, quantifiably. That’s not me being dramatic. And you know that. [RS: “There were a lot of people in those stadiums.”] It’s true. But that was two years later. . . . I do think, as a party, we need to be more of a team. With Republicans, if you’re wearing that red hat, you’re one of them. And if we’re going to do anything to change what’s happening, we need to stick together. We need to stop dissecting why someone’s on our side or if they’re on our side in the right way or if they phrased it correctly. We need to not have the right kind of Democrat and the wrong kind of Democrat. We need to just be like, “You’re a Democrat? Sick. Get in the car. We’re going to the mall.”
“But, you know, I’m not like him, making crazy, petty accusations about the past.” THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT SHE DOES THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW. There are so many fundamental things that Taylor needs to reconcile about her image, her persona, her politics and everything else. I’m going to make a list!
1. Is Scooter Braun to blame for Kanye or is Kanye to blame for Kanye or is everyone to blame for Kanye? She blames Kanye for so much, then she blames Scooter Braun for everything too, including… asking her to take part in some charity benefits, which she didn’t even know about because everyone on her team knows not to bring her anything from Scooter!
2. Choose what you are – either you’re the savvy businesswoman who is on top of everything, or you’re the woman who passes off a big chunk of your business and management to other people. Personally, I think she can be a bit of both, but I’m wary of how she flits between both sides depending on what she won’t take responsibility for. When it’s about her music and her image, she’s the toughest businesswoman, the fighter, the ballbuster, the one on top of everything. When someone criticizes her, it’s not her fault because her team didn’t even bring it to her.
3. The Aryan princess thing. She will creep on her fans’ Tumblr accounts for months, but she was blissfully unaware of how white supremacists were calling her their Aryan princess for years. She didn’t know anything about the Aryan princess thing… but her lawyer tried to shut down a blogger who criticized Taylor for her “Aryan racebaiting.”
4. The New Democrat. She’s only publicly been a Democrat for a year and she’s saying sh-t like “I do think, as a party, we need to be more of a team.” A squad, perchance? A Democrat Clique?
Yeah… I have so much more to say but I’ll save it. This RS interview was a lot to take.
“It’s weird, because in some of the worst times of my career, and reputation, dare I say, I had some of the most beautiful times.” @taylorswift13 looks back on the tumultuous past three years of her life in our latest cover story https://t.co/PDIryPTygw pic.twitter.com/15S5yW5k4k
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 18, 2019
Cover and photo courtesy of Rolling Stone.