By Brian Ives
Kanye West‘s fans (and the press) may have been disappointed at the news that the hip-hop legend wouldn’t perform at the MTV Video Music Awards even though he was presented with the Video Vanguard Award. However, what he did do once he grabbed the mic and accepted his award surely qualified as a epic example of performance art.
It was like one of his in-between song rants on his last tour, just without the songs. And it concluded with his announcement that he’s running for President in 2020.
It started with a great marketing coup for MTV: Taylor Swift presented him with the award, noting that “I first met Kanye West at this show actually,” referring to the VMAs where he interrupted her speech to protest that her video won over a Beyonce video.
But she said that she’d always been a fan: “College Dropout was the first album that my brother and I bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old; I have been a fan of his since I can remember.”
She then joked, “All the other winners, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish but Kanye West has had one of the best careers of all time. I’m honored to present the 2015 Video Vanguard Award to my friend Kanye West!”
West basked in the applause for a minute, seemingly moved.
“Bro! Bro!” he yelled. “Listen to the kids! First of all, thank you Taylor for being so gracious and going me this award this evening. And I often think back to the first day I met you also. I think about when I’m in the grocery store with my daughter and I have a great conversation about fresh juice and at the end they say, ‘Oh you’re not that bad after all!'”
“I think about it sometimes like… it crosses my mind when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me. 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 half a bottle of Hennessy and given the rest to the audience?”
He then got a bit more serious: “If I had a daughter at that time would I have gone on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else’s. This arena, tomorrow will be a different set up. After that night, the stage was gone but the effect it had on people remained. The problem was the contraction is, I do fight for artists but in that fight I somehow was disrespectful to artists. I didn’t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing. I sat at the GRAMMYs and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee Lo lose. Gnarls Barkley and the FutureLove album. I saw that man in tears, bro. I was thinking like, he deserved to win album of the year.”
(@MTV) August 31, 2015
He was referring, most likely, to the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards, where Timberlake and Gnarls Barkely lost Album of the Year to the Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way, which, ironically, was led by the single “Not Ready to Make Nice” (the sentiment of which West would surely identify with) and which was produced by Rick Rubin, who collaborated with West on his Yeezus album.
West continued that he couldn’t understand award shows in general, and how they could have categories where four artists who had worked their entire lives could be considered a “loser.”
“I’m not no politician bro!” he yelled, about to bite the hand that had just given him a big award. “You know how many times MTV ran that footage because it got them more ratings. You know how many times they announced that Taylor was gonna give me that award because it got them more ratings? Listen to the kids bro!”
“I just wanted people to like me more. But f— that bro! 2015! I will die for the art for what I believe in and the art ain’t always gonna be polite!”
“People are gonna ask, ‘Did he smoke up something before he came here?’ The answer is yes, I rolled a little somerthin’ to knock the edge off.”
“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 fellow artists, just worry about how you feel . I’m confident. I believe in myself. We the millennials bro. This is the 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 stand up for themselves. It ain’t about me, it’s about ideas bro!”
And finally, “And yes, I have decided in 2020 to run for president!” With that, he actually dropped the mic and left the stage.
Possibly not what MTV was expecting. But then again, when you’re giving the mic to Kanye West, you never know what to expect.