Music's 30 Fiercest Feuds and Beefs

From classic-rock squabbles to hip-hop diss tracks and social media wars, here are the ridiculous, rancorous conflicts that have held us rapt

Load Previous
Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift
Kanye West and Taylor Swift Kevin Mazur/WireImage25/30

Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift

T-Swift and Yeezy began their feud in front of millions watching the MTV VMAs on September 13th, 2009. The rapper's "'Imma let you finish" mic-grabbing gaffe (he was adamant that Beyonce's "Single Ladies" should have won the Best Female Video) was so ubiquitous that even President Obama weighed in to brand West a 'jackass."

A chastised West appeared on The Tonight Show the following day to try and explain the inexplicable. "It was rude, period. I don't try to justify it, 'cause I was in the wrong," he admitted. But the following year he reversed course, remaining defiant about the affair. "Taylor never came to my defense in any interview, and [she] rode the wave and rode it and rode it," he railed in November 2010. He took it a step further in a June 2013 interview with The New York Times, claiming the he'd been coerced into apologizing. "I don't have one regret."

So it was surprising when the smiley pair posed for pictures at the Grammys in February 2015. Days later, West boasted of an upcoming collaboration between the former foes. Swift offered similarly warm thoughts on West in a Vanity Fair profile that August saying, "I like him as a person. And that's a really good, nice first step." MTV took advantage of the relaxing tensions by having Swift present West with the Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs, apparently closing the circle on the feud.

Then he dropped The Life of Pablo in February 2016 and everything went sideways. The track "Famous" made waves for the line: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous." The collective national gasp had barely faded away when he released the accompanying video in June, which featured nude wax figures of several West-related celebrities – Swift among them – in bed next to a replica of himself and wife Kim Kardashian. Protestations from Swift's camp were blunted when Kardashian leaked a video that appeared to show West clearing the offending lyric with the singer.

Swift posted a lengthy note to her social media accounts objecting to the use of the word "bitch," which had not been discussed previously. But that was just the preamble for her earthshaking "Look What You Made Me Do," a lethal revenge track released in late August 2017.

Though West isn't mentioned by name, the lyrics are littered with hints about its target. "I don't like your tilted stage," she sings, seemingly alluding to the slanted set West used during his Saint Pablo tour, and the faux phone call proclaiming, "the old Taylor is dead" recalls the taped call controversy. The final scene of the music video features Swift mockingly reenacting the VMAs moment while pleading, "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative" – her famous rebuke to West's "Famous" controversy, thus confirming that West is at the top of her enemies list. In red. Underlined.

Back to Top