Taylor Swift on Kanye West: ‘All I Ever Wanted Was for Him to Respect Me’
Sept. 13, 2019, marked the 10-year anniversary of the longstanding feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West, which began at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, with the rapper interrupted the then-country star's Best Female Video acceptance speech with his now-famous words in support of nominee Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" music video. The two artists put their feud aside briefly, then rekindled it, in the mid-2010s, but in a new interview, Swift says that all she's ever hoped for from West since the VMAs incident is some respect.
"All I ever wanted my whole career after that thing happened in 2009 was for him to respect me," Swift tells Rolling Stone. "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."
Swift and West made up in early 2015, then began feuding again in early 2016, after West released his song "Famous" in which he raps of Swift, "I made that b---h famous." West and wife Kim Kardashian-West claimed that Swift knew West would mention her in the song, while Swift says that while she did know West was name-dropping her, she didn't know the full context. Kardashian-West called Swift out on Snapchat, social media users railed against Swift, and Swift chose to stay mostly silent and disappear from the public eye until releasing her Reputation album in 2017.
"The world didn’t understand the context and the events that led up to [that moment]," Swift now says. "Because nothing ever just happens like that without some lead-up. Some events took place to cause me to be p----d off when he called me a b---h. That was not just a singular event.
"Basically, I got really sick of the dynamic between he and I," she adds. "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."
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In the interim, Swift says, she'd felt like she and West might have "reconnected." West even asked Swift to present him with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs -- but that's when things started to go south again.
"He called me up beforehand ... and we had maybe over an hour-long 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," Swift recounts. "And so I wrote this speech up, and then we get to the VMAs and I make this speech and he screams [about how MTV promoted that Swift would be giving West the award to help ratings]."
In that moment, Swift shares, "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 s--t. And I was so upset." West asked Swift to talk in his dressing room after the show, but she refused; however, the next day, he sent her flowers as an apology.
"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.' 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," Swift recalls. "And I was like, 'Okay, 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.'"
As Swift released her newest album, Lover, in August, she shared with The Guardian that when she was making Reputation, she was also writing “a thinkpiece a day that I knew I would never publish" about her feud with West: "the stuff I would say, and the different facets of the situation that nobody knew.” When asked why she didn't just "exonerate herself," she explained, “Because when people are in a hate frenzy and they find something to mutually hate together, it bonds them. And anything you say is in an echo chamber of mockery.”
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