Snakes, diss tracks and Kanye West: a timeline of Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift's beef

The two women have publicly attacked each other since 2016

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published April 24, 2024 5:37PM (EDT)

Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian West attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California (Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)
Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian West attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California (Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)

It seems like the bitter feud between Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian just unlocked a new chapter

Swift and Kardashian's long-standing beef really begins with Kardashian's ex-husband Kanye West's complicated history with the singer. Almost two decades ago, the then-19-year-old Swift won the 2009 VMA for the best female video, edging out Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." In the infamous televised moment during Swift's acceptance speech, West hopped on stage, grabbed a mic and interrupted with, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

The fallout was swift — literally. West was condemned by the likes of former President Barack Obama and even Beyoncé herself. Later that same evening, while Bey accepted her Video of the Year award, she brought out Swift to join her on stage. Little did West and Swift know that moment would have a domino effect that would play out for years to come and even involve West's now ex-wife Kardashian. 

After initial apologies from West, the singer and rapper made up and in 2015, Swift even presented West with the Video Vanguard Award at VMAs. However, their budding relationship quickly soured a year later when West debuted his song "Famous." The line, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b***h famous" caused a stir and went viral. Swift's team denied that she had ever approved the lines. Kardashian swooped in and defended her husband, and the rest is history.

Swift is now at the height of her superstardom and continues to blow upon the embers of a feud that seemingly ended but now has been renewed in a new diss track "thanK you aIMee" on her dual album, "The Tortured Poets Department." In light of this revival, Salon looked back at the women's enmity and how it's played out publicly.

Here's everything you need to know about the long-standing beef between Kardashian and Swift:

February 11, 2016: Kanye releases “Famous” 

The song that started it all was released eight years ago. Its virality prompted the question of whether Swift had approved being mentioned in the song. West said that he had received permission from Swift, but this was later disputed by Swift's team. He said that he “called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line,” that she “thought it was funny,” “gave her blessings,” and even “came up with” the lyric, GQ reported.

Years before its release Kardashian was quoted saying that she loves Swift. "I’m the biggest Taylor Swift fan.” In 2015, they were seen together hugging at awards like the Grammys and the VMAs. However, when "Famous" was shared with the world, it did irreparable damage to the women's relationship. 

June 2016: Swift's spokesperson denies the song approval

A statement from Swift’s PR team argued that “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that b***h famous.’”

Kanye continued to stress that Swift approved of the lines in "Famous."

June 16, 2016: Kardashian says Swift knew about the "Famous" lines

In an interview with GQ, Kardashian stoked the fire in the brewing feud. When asked if Swift has actually approved the lines in the song, Kardashian said, “She totally approved that.

“She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn't. I swear, my husband gets so much s**t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved.” She continued, “What rapper would call a girl that he was rapping a line about to get approval?”

June 2016: Swift's team responds to Kardashian's comments

Swift's team said, "Taylor does not hold anything against Kim Kardashian as she recognizes the pressure Kim must be under and that she is only repeating what she has been told by Kanye West. 

"However, that does not change the fact that much of what Kim is saying is incorrect. Kanye West and Taylor only spoke once on the phone while she was on vacation with her family in January of 2016 and they have never spoken since," the statement continued. "Taylor has never denied that conversation took place. It was on that phone call that Kanye West also asked her to release the song on her Twitter account, which she declined to do."

June 24, 2016: West releases "Famous" video

The music video also pushed boundaries by featuring West, Kardashian naked and in bed surrounded by celebrity lookalikes, one of whom bore a resemblance to Swift. West himself said that he had nothing to say about the actors in the video. He said it was a "comment on fame" and then tweeted, “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait.”

July 17, 2016: Kardashian explains why she defended West

In a new episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," Kardashian shared more about her perspective on the situation between West and Swift.

She said that when she did her GQ interview, she felt like she had to respond. "I never talk s**t about anyone publicly, especially in interviews. But I was just like, I had so had it," she said. "I wanted to defend him in it.” 

At the end of the episode, Kardashian and her mom, Kris Jenner sat down to discuss the controversy. Jenner asked her daughter, "What would happen if you just called Taylor up and say 'What happened? How did this go so south?' I guess I don't understand the motivation to flip . . . maybe she took it the wrong way. My advice would be to give Taylor Swift a call."

"Thank you for your lovely advice," Kardashian replied, "but I'm not going to take it.

July 17, 2016: Kim Kardashian releases video footage of Kanye West's phone call with Taylor Swift

Kardashian went on Snapchat to share the elusive videos she had been hinting at during her GQ interview. The videos were seemingly of a phone call between West and Swift talking about the  "Famous" lyrics. 

"It's like a compliment," Swift said in the video after West read the lyrics, "For all my Southside n***a that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex."

West said to Swift, "What I give a f**k is you as a person, and as a friend, I want things that make you feel good." He also thanked Swift "for being like, so cool about it" after she said she appreciated the "heads up" on the lyrics.

"I never would've expected you to like tell me about a line in your song," Swift said. "I mean, I don't think anybody would listen to that and be like, 'Oh, that's a real diss.' You gotta tell the story that way that it happened to you and the way you experienced it."

Shed continued, "If people ask me about it, look, I think it would be great for me to be like, 'He called me and told me before it came out . . . Joke's on you, guys. We're fine.'"

Swift's spokesperson told People Magazine, "Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyrics, 'I made that b***h famous.'"

July 17, 2016: Swift defends herself after leaked footage

Swift responded immediately. She said that the phone call never showed West telling her he was going to call her "that b***h."

"It doesn't exist because it never happened. You don't get to control someone's emotional response to being called 'that b***h' in front of the entire world," she said.

"Of course I wanted to like the song. I wanted to believe Kanye when he told me that I would love the song. I wanted us to have a friendly relationship. He promised to play the song for me, but he never did," Swift said. "While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot 'approve' a song you haven't heard. Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination.

"I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009," Swift continued. She captioned the post, "That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet."

It wasn't long before the internet thought Swift was public enemy No. 1. Countless snake emojis flooded the singer's comments on Instagram and Twitter. She was essentially canceled as people online cheered #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty and #KimExposedTaylorParty.

August 27, 2017: Swift references West and Kardashian in “Look What You Made Me Do” music video 

A year later after the star had removed herself from the public eye, she released the song “Look What You Made Me Do” and its music video. The musician also teased the release of her sixth studio album, "Reputation." The album's theme clearly highlighting the public's condemnation and cancellation of Swift.

But for “Look What You Made Me Do," the singer had essentially reclaimed the snake imagery that people had so closely associated her with for a year. In the video, she has the quote, “Et tu, Brute” from William Shakespeare’s "Julius Caesar" written on her chair as a reference to West stabbing her in the back. 

At the end of the video, she references the drama with different past “versions of herself” lined up in a row, including one that kept taking videos on her phone, saying, “I’m going to edit this later.” 

November 10, 2017: Swift releases "Reputation," aiming right at Kardashian and West 

In songs like “I Did Something Bad,” Swift sings, “I never trust a narcissist, but they love me,” and, “If a man talks s**t, then I owe him nothin’, I don’t regret it one bit ’cause he had it coming.”

“This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things" alluded to Swift and West's relationship rekindling and how she felt tricked by the musician and wife's motives. She described the rapper as “shady." She sings "And here’s to you / ‘Cause forgiveness is a nice thing to do / Hahaha, I can’t even say it with a straight face.”

January 14, 2019: Kardashian denies a feud with Swift

During an interview with Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live," Cohen asked Kardashian about Swift. She said she was "over it."

"I feel like we'd all moved on," Kardashian stated.

April 2019: Swift says she hasn't received an apology

However, Swift said in Elle, “I learned that disarming someone’s petty bullying can be as simple as learning to laugh. . . . In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously. A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet.

“It would be nice if we could get an apology from people who bully us, but maybe all I’ll ever get is the satisfaction of knowing I could survive it, and thrive in spite of it,” she continued.

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March 2020: The “Famous” phone call fully leaks

Four years after the initial incident, the full video leaked. In the clip, Swift was seemingly relieved that she was not “that stupid dumb b***h” that West raps about in the song.

“I’m going to send you the song and send you the exact wording and everything about it, right? And then we could sit and talk through it,” West said to her.

Swift addressed the leak:

“Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family and fans through hell for 4 years) . . . SWIPE UP to see what really matters,” wrote Swift, a link to the World Health Organization days after it declared the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

Kardashian followed with a statement too. “To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that ‘Kanye never called to ask for permission,’” she said. “They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word ‘bitch’ was used without her permission.”

December 2023: Taylor said the public cancellation was a “career death”

Swift dominated last year, even snagging the title of TIME's person of the year. In the magazine, the singer talked about her career and how it has been through its highs and lows.

“Make no mistake — my career was taken away from me,” she said of the leaked phone call.

“You have a fully manufactured frame job, in an illegally recorded phone call, which Kim Kardashian edited and then put out to say to everyone that I was a liar,” she said. “That took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before. I moved to a foreign country. I didn’t leave a rental house for a year. I was afraid to get on phone calls. I pushed away most people in my life because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I went down really, really hard.”

April 19, 2024: Swift releases "The Tortured Poets Department" with diss track "thanK you aIMee" 

Eight years after the leaked phone call and the immediate backlash against Swift, she released her 11th studio album with the song "thanK you aIMee" on it. The song title not-too-subtly capitalizes the letters K, I and M, in reference to Kardashian.

In the song, Swift refers to Aimee as a bully and spends most of the song yelling, "f**k you Aimee." 

Swift sings, "I don't think you've changed much/And so I changed your name and any real defining clues/And one day, your kid comes home singing/A song that only us two is gonna know is about you." This has widely been speculated to be referring Kardashian and her daughter North West, singing and dancing to one of Swift's songs on TikTok.

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Beef Explainer Kanye West Kim Kardashian Music Taylor Swift Timeline