What happened between Taylor Swift and Kanye West at the MTV VMAs? Feud explained

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13:   Kanye West (L) jumps onstage after Taylor Swift (C) won the
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Kanye West (L) jumps onstage after Taylor Swift (C) won the "Best Female Video" award during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift is leading the nominations for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). The chart-topping star has eight nominations including seven for her song Anti-Hero.

Both musicians were recognized in the Video of the Year category, for “Anti-Hero” and “Kill Bill,” respectively. The event will take place on September 12 at the Prudential Center in Newark, USA.

This is not the first time Swift has been nominated for Video of the Year as she won the prestigious gong back in 2009 and was famously interrupted by Kanye West. The moment went down in VMA history, with Swift speaking out about the incident on multiple occassions.

But what exactly went down between Swift and West at the 2009 VMAs and what has happened between the pair since? Here’s everything you need to know.

What happened between Taylor Swift and Kanye West at the VMAs?

The feud between Swift and West began in 2009 when the rapper jumped on stage to interrupt Swift’s acceptance speech for video of the year. West emerged on the stage and took the microphone from Swift, saying “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all-time! One of the best videos of all-time.”

Swift was seen looking noticeably deflated during West’s comments, with boos then erupting from the crowd. Swift was later questioned about the ordeal by an interviewer and she said: “I was really excited because I had just won the award and then I was really excited because Kanye West was on the stage. And then, I wasn’t so excited anymore after that.”

The interviewer asked Swift whether she had any ‘hard feelings’ towards West. She responded: “I don’t know him and I’ve never met him.” She was then quizzed on whether she was a fan before the ordeal and she replied “Yeah, it’s Kanye West.”

Following the incident, West apologised on his blog, writing: “I’m sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! I’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!

“Beyonce’s video was the best of this decade! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down! I’m sorry to my friends at MTV. I will apologise to Taylor tomorrow”

Swift then released her song ‘Innocent’ on her album Speak Now,. The lyrics include, “It’s okay, life is a tough crowd. 32 and still growing up now”, with many speculating the age reference was aimed at West who was 32-years-old at the time of the 2009 VMAs.

Kanye West’s ‘Famous’ music video

Following the VMA incident, the pair seemed to move on and were pictured together at multiple events. However, their feud came to a head in 2016 when Kanye West released his song “Famous” in which West referred to Swift as a “B****”.

Swift responded to the song saying she didn’t sign off on the comment. This led West and his then wife Kim Kardashian to leak an edited conversation between the rapper and singer.

Kardashian called out Swift, referring to her as a snake upon the release of the call. She tweeted:“Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!”. Following the fall-out, Swift removed herself from social media and the public eye before releasing her comeback album “reputation”.

Swift spoke with Vogue in 2019 about the situation saying “a mass public shaming, with millions of people saying you are quote-unquote cancelled, is a very isolating experience. When you say someone is cancelled, it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being. You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as, "Kill yourself."’

Four years after Kardashian leaked the edited conversation, the full phone call leaked, proving Swift did not sign off on the comment.

What songs has Taylor Swift written about Kanye West?

Innocent isn’t the only song that is said to be about Kanye West. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, which was the lead single for Swift’s ‘reputation’ album, is said to be about the rapper and how Swift was seeking revenge over the VMA incident.

She also seemingly opened up about the incident in ‘reputation’ track ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’. She told Vogue: “I knew immediately I needed to make music about it because I knew it was the only way I could survive it,

“It was the only way I could preserve my mental health and also tell the story of what it’s like to go through something so humiliating.”

In June 2023 whilst on her Eras Tour, Swift sang ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ as one of the surprise tracks. She sang the line ‘because forgiveness is a nice thing to do’, and laughed  before adding: “I can barely say it with a straight face”. The recorded version of the song also includes a laugh, which is said to be a dig at the rapper.