To recap, the 2016 drama began when Ye, Kim’s then-husband, released a controversial lyric about Taylor in his song “Famous.” He sang, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous” — an apparent reference to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when Ye interrupted Taylor onstage as she accepted the award for Best Video by a Female Artist, and loudly declared that he felt Beyoncé should’ve won instead.
The following year saw Ye’s infamous reference to Taylor in “Famous.” The rapper claimed that Taylor “gave her blessings” for him to release the lyric during an hourlong phone call they’d had, while Taylor’s camp firmly alleged that he’d never gotten her permission to refer to her as “that bitch.” What’s more, Taylor’s publicist said that Ye’s reason for calling was to ask the singer to share his song on her Twitter account.
Kim then entered the conversation, telling GQ that Taylor was lying and “totally knew” about Ye’s lyric. “She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t. I swear, my husband gets so much shit for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved,” Kim said.
Taylor’s representative fired back, saying, “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.”
And then came Kim’s infamous Snapchat spam, which saw the mogul releasing video footage of Taylor and Ye’s phone call. In the footage, it appeared as though Taylor had approved Ye’s lyric, with the singer saying, “Yeah. I mean, go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way. And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice!”
Taylor publicly blasted Kim and Ye for secretly recording her on the phone and then posting it to Snapchat. She reiterated that she was not made aware of Ye’s “that bitch” line, and called the entire thing a “character assassination.”
But this didn’t stop internet users from absolutely berating Taylor, and her social media pages were soon relentlessly flooded with snake emojis. Ye later released a problematic music video for “Famous,” which featured a naked Taylor Swift body double in bed with him and a bunch of other celebrities.
As a result of the widespread vitriol, Taylor essentially disappeared from the public eye. A year later, she reclaimed the whole “snake” brand by leaning into it with the release of her album Reputation, on which she references the drama with Kim and Ye multiple times.
However, by 2020, the tables had turned as Taylor and Ye’s full phone call was shared online, and the world learned that Taylor had never actually approved the “that bitch” lyric at all.
Reflecting on the entire thing this week during her interview with Time, Taylor called out Kim and Ye directly for publicly branding her a “liar” and “illegally” recording the phone call.
“Make no mistake — my career was taken away from me,” she said. “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.”
Taylor shared, “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.”
She added, “I thought that moment of backlash was going to define me negatively for the rest of my life.”