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How Taylor Swift Serves Up Kanye West’s ‘Karma’


The bizarre story of the feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West, a years-long feud that also involved West’s now-ex-wife Kim Kardashian, began in a moment seen by millions on live television and replayed by countless tens of millions of times in the years since. Surely you know the exact moment well, but in case it doesn’t cross your mind, or to get it fresh there, let’s do a quick review.

The date was Sunday, September 13th, 2009, the venue was Radio City Music Hall in New York and the event was the MTV Music Video Awards. As Taylor Swift, then just 19, took the stage to accept an award for Female Video of the Year, Kanye West, then 32, took the stage and snatched the microphone from the teenager’s hand. .

West yelled, “Yo Taylor I’m so happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos ever!”

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West then raised his middle finger to the audience and stormed off the stage, soon to be booted from the awards ceremony and leaving a bewildered Swift — and a bewildered audience and the world at large — wondering what it just happened.

And though few could have known it at that wild moment, one thing that did happen was the beginning of a bitter feud that would simmer, and sometimes ignite, between West and Swift for years to come.

A look at the long and storied feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift

Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the VMAs (2009)

As mentioned, it all started on that fateful Sunday night in September 2009, a night when Beyoncé cried backstage, shaken by what West had done, while Pink reportedly told West to his face .

The day after the onstage incident, West said further The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he was wrong for what he did and further Ellen he would later blame the outburst on emotions and alcohol—in other words, he was drunk and out of control, and it wasn’t his fault. Swift later revealed that in the days after the VMAs, West called her and offered a seemingly sincere apology, which she accepted.

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If he apologized and meant it, and she accepted it, wouldn’t that be the end of the story? Yes, but the story doesn’t end there.

The following year, in 2010, Swift released a song called “Innocent,” which was an apparent pun directed at West. Among other lyrics, it contained the barbed and very specific line “32 and still growing.” Do you remember West’s age when he ran onto that stage?

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Then, in mid-2013, West went ahead and retracted his apology entirely, saying, “I have no regrets. If anyone is reading this expecting some kind of flat out apology for something, they should stop reading right now. I, as a human being, succumbed to peer pressure.” To be clear, he meant that he “bowed to peer pressure” to apologize for interrupting someone else’s moment and made it abundantly clear that he felt he was in the right.

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Surprisingly, 2015 saw a thaw and even a warming between the two. They were seen in close proximity at an awards show, and West even teased a future collaboration, saying, “he wants to get in the studio and we’re definitely going to get in. Any artist with a point of view, an amazing perspective. , fanbase, I’m ready to get in the studio and work. I don’t discriminate.”

Swift quickly denied these plans, saying they had no collaboration planned, but expressed her personal crush on the man. And later that year, in a moment that would have been hard to believe six years earlier, Swift introduced West at the MTV Video Music Awards and even poked fun at his wild intrusion in 2009. Swift went on record with Billboard saying she thought the West had two faces.

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But in early 2016, things took a turn for the worse again. In his song “Famous” from the album The life of Pablo, West included the lyrics, “I feel like Taylor and I could still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous.” The entente was over.

A little later, in 2016, while accepting a Grammy Award, Swift spoke out, clearly referencing West, when she said, in part, “… to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who try to undermine- your success or take credit for your achievements or fame. If you just focus on the work and don’t let these people take you away.”

Taylor Swift and her feud with the Kardashians

Taylor Swift hugs Kim Kardashian.

Kim Kardashian, then still married to West, later claimed that Swift knew about the lyrics all along and pretended to be hurt by them, but Swift denied this while admirably standing up for Kardashian, saying he knew the woman was under duress and not shooting. to her or West.

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There was a lot of back-and-forth between the West and Swift camps for the rest of 2016, and in 2017 Swift released a song that seemed to go back to West, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”

Despite this, from 2018 to 2019 things calmed down again, but then, even as West’s life began to fall apart, the confusion over whether or not Swift knew about the lines in “Famous” resurfaced and established . But now, a few more years. further, it appears that the feud is over, and not because the two are friendly again, but because West is heading down and out and Swift is up.

A Look at Swift’s ‘Karma’

Taylor Swift, lying on a sofa, hands above her head, new album Midnight

Is Taylor Swift’s song ‘Karma’ really about Kanye West? The singer hasn’t said she’s playing her cards close to her chest and has yet to speak out about the theories about her song, but upon close inspection of the lyrics, a guess that yes seems safe. Consider the opening lines:

“Damn words
Addicted to betrayal, but you are relevant
You are terrified to look down
Because if you dare, you will see the shine
Of all the ones you burned just to get there
Returns

And I keep my side of the street clean

You wouldn’t know what I mean”

Does that nameless “you” sound like someone we know? Maybe someone who was recently killed for making anti-Semitic remarks? Or someone who couldn’t keep quiet while his family was dragged through a horrible divorce? Someone who has now lost major partnerships with brands like Adidas and is routinely mocked in the media and mocked on social media? In other words, someone like Kanye West?

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And then let’s take a look at Taylor Swift’s reputation right now – and yes, this should remind us of her 2017 album called Reputation which topped the charts and sold over a million copies in its first week of release. Swift is generally considered to be intelligent and skilled, polite and caring, strong yet kind, and very much in control of her career and image.

In other words, she’s pretty much the opposite of Kanye West, who’s wild and unhinged and controversial, and who very likely, as Swift sings in “Karma,” feels scared to have that proverbial look in the mirror, given how many people he has . she messed up – or “burned” as she says – along the way.

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Taylor Swift proves that the best way to fight back is to simply live life on your own terms

Taylor Swift dressed in pink, smiling and waving to fans.

Over the years, even as Kanye West has grown increasingly troubled and erratic and fallen further and further out of favor with fans and his own family, Taylor Swift’s proverbial star has risen. Of course, last check, West’s colossal fortune of around $2 billion far exceeds Swift’s estimated $450 million, but that just goes to show that money is a poor measure of character — and, besides, Swift is extremely wealthy anyway and is over 12 years his junior at that.

What’s most impressive is that despite the fact that she can take jabs at West whenever she wants and in ways that would be seen around the world — Swift has nearly a quarter of a billion followers on her Instagram @taylorswift alone, for example — she rarely took a shot at him. It’s like she can’t be bothered by everyone’s pettiness.

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Swift was deeply shaken by that moment at the MTV Music Video Awards, as she has admitted in interviews several times. She’s certainly dealt with a lot of West-induced anger, anxiety, and frustration over the years, and admirably, for the most part, she’s done just that: dealt with it.

The Taylor Swift lesson

Taylor Swift in houndstooth jacket and red lipstick.

There is a certain kindness in allowing hatred and bitterness to roll off your back that many find difficult. It’s never easy to turn away from the drama, but instead lean into what you know you can control, love, and ultimately succeed.

If “Karma” and other Swift songs are about West, maybe she’s done more than just keep her chin up and live her best life. Perhaps this lyrical wordsmith took a cue from perhaps the greatest wordsmith of them all, William Shakespeare, who wrote, “If you wrong us, will we not avenge?” Indeed, West wronged Swift, but she won the day.

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