Taylor Swift Shares Lessons From Scooter Braun and Kanye West Feuds

What Taylor Swift Learned From Drama With Scooter Braun and Kanye West: 'Trash Takes Itself Out'

Taylor Swift, Scooter Braun and Kanye West.
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Taylor Swift is reclaiming her reputation one album at a time, and along the way, she’s learned a few big lessons from her most public feuds.

Swift, 33, spoke candidly about the highs and lows she’s faced throughout her career in her TIME 2023 Person of the Year cover story, published Wednesday, December 6. As she reflected on her masters battle with Scooter Braun and her years-long drama with Kanye West, Swift asserted, “Make no mistake — my career was taken away from me.”

With nearly 20 years in the industry under her belt, Swift has endured her fair share of bad blood. “Nothing is permanent,” she explained. “So I’m very careful to be grateful every second that I get to be doing this at this level, because I’ve had it taken away from me before. There is one thing I’ve learned: My response to anything that happens, good or bad, is to keep making things. Keep making art.”

Swift added: “But I’ve also learned there’s no point in actively trying to quote-unquote defeat your enemies. Trash takes itself out every single time.”

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Referring to her 2016 spat with West, 46, and his then-wife, Kim Kardashian, as “a career death,” Swift claimed, “I had all the hyenas climb on and take their shots.”

Swift’s rocky history with West dates back to 2009 when he interrupted her Best Female Video acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards and declared Beyoncé should have won instead. Years later, he name-dropped Swift in his song “Famous,” saying, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.”

What Taylor Swift Learned From Drama With Scooter Braun and Kanye West: 'Trash Takes Itself Out'

Kayne West jumps onstage as Taylor Swift accepts her award for 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.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

At the time, Swift’s rep slammed the “misogynistic” lyrics, but Kardashian, now 43, stood by her then-spouse by sharing footage via Snapchat of Swift and West discussing the song over the phone. In the clip, Swift appeared to approve the idea, but she later claimed the video didn’t tell the full story.

“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,” she recalled to TIME. “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.”

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Swift believed that the public’s response to the scandal — and to her 2017 album, Reputation — “was going to define me negatively for the rest of my life.” She also felt as though her record label at the time, Big Machine, had “second-guessed” her creative choices.

In 2018, Swift made the move to Republic Records. One year later, it was announced that Braun’s Ithaca Holdings company acquired Scott Borchetta‘s Big Machine Label Group for $300 million, making Braun the owner of Swift’s first six albums: Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation. Braun’s connection to West added another layer to the drama.

“With the Scooter thing, my masters were being sold to someone who actively wanted them for nefarious reasons, in my opinion,” Swift said in her cover story. “I was so knocked on my ass by the sale of my music, and to whom it was sold. I was like, ‘Oh, they got me beat now. This is it. I don’t know what to do.’”

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Following a lengthy battle, Swift began her mission to rerecord her early albums in order to regain ownership of her music. She’s since released Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Red (Taylor’s Version), Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version), all of which revisit old favorites and include never-before-heard vault tracks.

“It’s all in how you deal with loss,” she said of the project. “I respond to extreme pain with defiance.”

Swift previously went into hiding when her feuds reached a boiling point, but she’s learned to take a different approach when things get heated. “Over the years, I’ve learned I don’t have the time or bandwidth to get pressed about things that don’t matter,” she said of living her life in the spotlight. “Yes, if I go out to dinner, there’s going to be a whole chaotic situation outside the restaurant. But I still want to go to dinner with my friends.”

She added: “Life is short. … Me locking myself away in my house for a lot of years — I’ll never get that time back. I’m more trusting now than I was six years ago.”

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