Out Of Sync
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake found themselves in resurfaced drama over music in 2024.

Here’s All The Tea About The Drama Between Britney & Justin Right Now

It feels like 2002 all over again.

Back in the early 2000s, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were the king and queen of pop culture. But it all fell apart in 2002, when their explosive breakup led to pointed diss tracks and shady remarks. Their tension died down in the two decades since, but now it’s resurfacing in a big way. As Timberlake attempted to launch his comeback into pop music at the start of 2024, his new releases were trolled by Spears’ fans, and overshadowed by not-so-subtle digs between the exes.

So, how did all this animosity come back up after years of radio silence? Spears’ well-documented conservatorship finally ending in 2021 is definitely a major factor. For 13 years, Spears had no way to freely express herself, and she was understandably more focused on ending her legal situation than on an ex.

But it was a lot more than just that milestone that turned up the heat to lead to the explosion between Spears and Timberlake in 2024. Buzzy documentaries, a tell-all book, and a never-ending deluge of cryptic Instagram captions all coalesced throughout the early 2020s to stir up the storm that finally became a typhoon of drama when Timberlake stepped back into the spotlight.

Here’s a full timeline of how beef from 2002 is suddenly more relevant than ever over two decades later.

Feb. 5, 2021: Framing Britney Spears Rehashed Britney’s Issues With Justin

Longtime Spears fans had never forgotten the messiness that followed her breakup with Timberlake, but the general public got a big reminder of that in early 2021 when the New York Times-produced documentary Framing Britney Spears was released.

The film resurfaced controversial comments Timberlake had made about Spears shortly after they split, and reiterated how Timberlake used his 2002 single “Cry Me a River” as a way to attack his ex.


Feb. 12, 2021: Justin Publicly Apologized To Britney

Timberlake received so much backlash after Framing Britney Spears that after 19 years of side-stepping the drama, he finally released a public apology to his ex over how he had behaved.

“I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism,” Timberlake wrote on Instagram. “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”

Nov. 12, 2021: Britney’s Conservatorship Ended

As the #FreeBritney movement grew from a grassroots fan campaign to a national rallying cry, Spears was finally able to end her father’s incredibly restrictive conservatorship over her in the fall of 2021. Under the conservatorship, Spears’ social media posts were vetted by a third party before she could upload them, per a New Yorker report. Now, she was finally free to share her unfiltered thoughts for the first time in over a decade.

Sept. 12, 2023: Justin Reentered The Spotlight

While he never officially announced a hiatus, Timberlake had largely disappeared from the music world after the release of his 2018 album Man of the Woods. After five years, he began to soft-launch his pop return by reuniting with NSYNC at the 2023 VMAs.

But the timing couldn’t have been worse, because a month and a half later, a bombshell would drop on his career.

Oct. 24, 2023: Britney Released Her Memoir

With her conservatorship in her past, Spears was finally able to publish her life story in 2023’s The Woman in Me. The memoir included several unsettling details about Spears’ relationship with Timberlake that nobody knew. She revealed that when she got pregnant while dating him, Timberlake “wasn’t happy” and “was so sure he didn’t want to be a father,” that Spears got an abortion.

“If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it,” Spears wrote of the decision.

Simon & Schuster

Dec. 13, 2023: Justin Added A Line To “Cry Me A River”

Toward the end of 2023, Timberlake started performing private gigs, another indication that he was about to announce a comeback. But one of his biggest hits clearly hadn’t aged too well. During a concert in Las Vegas, Timberlake introduced “Cry Me a River” with a two-word disclaimer: “No disrespect.”

The intro clearly seemed to reference the song’s fraught history with Spears and her fans.

Jan. 26, 2024: Britney Fans Trolled Justin’s Comeback Single

Timberlake finally hard-launched his return to music at the start of 2024, releasing his new single “Selfish.” But Spears’ fans had developed a scheme to overshadow the song’s success, galvanized by all the drama that had so recently resurfaced between the exes.

As Timberlake’s “Selfish” climbed the charts, Spears’ fans led a campaign to get her 2011 Femme Fatale bonus track — also named “Selfish” — to top Timberlake’s new release. Sure enough, one day after Timberlake dropped his song, it was Spears’ version of “Selfish” that claimed the No. 1 spot on U.S. iTunes.

Jan. 28, 2024: Britney Showed Love For Justin’s New Music

Spears’ fans were taken by surprise when she supported her ex shortly after the viral fan campaign to diss him. On Instagram, Spears seemed to apologize to Timberlake over the revelations in her book, and then praised his two new songs.

I wanna apologize for some of the things I wrote about in my book. If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry,” Spears wrote under a video of Timberlake.

“I also wanted to say I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Selfish,’” Spears wrote. “It is soo good and how come every time I see Justin and Jimmy together I laugh so hard ???Ps ‘Sanctified’ is wow too.”

Jan. 31, 2024: Justin Shaded Britney’s Apology Post

Three days after Spears’ supportive remarks, Timberlake did the exact opposite of returning the favor. During a concert in celebration of his birthday, Timberlake introduced “Cry Me a River” with a telling statement: “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to absolutely f*cking nobody.”

Feb. 1, 2024: Britney Deleted Her Apology And Attacked Justin

It definitely seemed like Spears caught wind of Timberlake’s non-apology, because the next day, she deleted her post, set her Instagram to private, and went on the offensive in a note that seemed clearly directed at her ex.

“Someone told me someone was talking sh*t about me on the streets,” Spears wrote. “Do you want to bring it to the court or will you go home crying to your mom like you did last time ??? I’m not sorry !!!”

The comment alluded to Spears’ previous claim that Timberlake would cry after she beat him in basketball games.


Timberlake has yet to publicly respond, but reports surfaced shortly after Spears’ post that he was “seething” that the drama with Spears had been “overshadowing his new music.”

“Justin had hoped the backlash would’ve blown over by now so that he could focus on his new album,” a source told Page Six on Feb. 1. “But every day is something new.”