|New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
It's been six years since Kanye West
famously stormed the MTV Video Music
Awards stage and declared that Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" deserved to win Best Female Video, not Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me." Yet watching this year's VMAs, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking that the incident only happened last year—all players involved milked the Taylor-Kanye incident for all they could. MTV incorporated a clip of the rapper's meme-tastic outburst during the intro of the Best Female Video category, and a few seconds later he hammed it up for the audience when she won over Beyoncé again. And then, of course, to demonstrate for the second time in the night how the cycle of public celebrity feuds can come full circle, Taylor presented Kanye with the 2015 Video Vanguard Award.
"I first met Kanye West
six years ago, at this show, actually," Taylor began with a twinkle in her eye. She went on to praise Kanye for his fashion sense and creativity, citing the College Dropout as the first album she bought off of iTunes when she was 12 years old. She ended her intro by calling him her "friend."
But the real fireworks went off when Swift left the stage to join Kim Kardashian in the audience for the most awkward, most epic, most Kanye speech we may ever hear in our lifetimes. It's so awkward, epic, and Kanye—it actually ends with him declaring his candidacy for president and then dropping the mic!—that you need to watch it for yourself.
Kanye's full speech below
Bro. Bro! Listen to the kids.
Jeremy, I gotta put it down for a second. It's beautiful. Jeremy Scott designed.
First of all, thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious in giving me this award this evening. Thank you. And I often think back to the first day I met you, also. You know, I think about when I'm in the grocery store with my daughter, and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice at the -- you know? And at the end, they say, "Oh, you're not that bad after all." And like, I think about it sometimes, like, it crosses my mind a little bit like when I go to the baseball game and, like, 60,000 people boo me. It crosses my mind a little bit. Just — [applause]
I think if I had to do it all again, what would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank a half a bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? Yeah, I know y'all drink that bottle too. If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else's?
You know, this arena tomorrow, it's gonna be a completely different set-up. Some concert, something like that. This stage will be gone. After that night, the stage is gone, but the effect that it had on people remains. The — [applause] The problem was the contradiction. The contradiction is I do fight for artists, but in that fight, I somehow... what's disrespectful to artists, I — I didn't know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing. [sighs] I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee-Lo lose. Gnarls Barkley and the FutureLove/Sexy Back album. And bro, Justin, I ain't trying to put you on blast, but I saw that man in tears, bro. You know. And I was thinking, "He deserved to win Album of the Year."
And this small box that we are as the entertainers of the evening. [Applause] How could you explain that? Sometimes, I feel like, you know, all this shit they run about beef and all that, sometimes I feel like I died for the artists' opinion, for artists to be able to have an opinion after they were successful. [Applause] I'm not no politician, bro. And look at that. You know how many times MTV ran that footage again? Because it got them more ratings? You know how many times they announced Taylor was gonna give me the award, because it got them more ratings? [Applause]
Listen to the kids, bro! [Applause]
I still don't understand awards shows. I don't understand how they get five people who worked their entire life, one, sold records, sold concert tickets, to come, stand on the carpet, and for the first time in their life be judged on a chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don't understand it, bro! I don't understand when the biggest album, or the biggest video — I'm conflicted, bro! I just wanted people to like me more. But fuck that, bro! [Applause]
2015! I will die for the art, for what I believe in. And the art ain't always gonna be polite. Y'all might be thinking right now, I wonder, did he smoke some before he came out here? The answer is, yes, I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off. [Applause]
I don't know what's gonna happen tonight. I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, bro. But all I can say to my artists, my fellow artists: just worry how you feel at the time, man. Just worry about how you feel, and don't never — you know what I'm saying? I'm confident. I believe in myself. We the Millennials, bro. This is a new — this is a new mentality. We not gonna control our kids with brands. We not gonna teach low self esteem and hate to our kids. We gonna teach our kids that they can be something! We gonna teach our kids that they can stand up for theyself. We gonna teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down! [Rolling applause]
I don't know what I'm gonna lose after this. It don't matter, though, because it ain't about me. It's about ideas, bro. New ideas! People with ideas! People who believe in truth!
And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for president. [Applause]