On a night that featured Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift sharing the stage, pop boy-king Justin Bieber shedding tears after a performance and Miley Cyrus starting fights with everyone, what blew everyone away wasn't a performance or a surprise. It was an acceptance speech by Kanye West.
West was honored with the Video Vanguard award by Taylor Swift, who explained the genius of Kanye West and referenced the now-infamous moment when West interrupted her.
It was a fun moment, a moment to show how much these two artists' careers are intertwined and what a moment that was. But West took it to a somber place, talking about how that moment defined his career and the way people saw him. West was visibly unnerved at being characterized as the angry man who barged in on Swift's moment, and explained that being a father has changed the way he looks at the moment.
"I just wanted people to like me more," Kanye West said, adding that MTV was more than happy to capitalize and replay that moment over and over. "But fuck that bro. I will die for the art that I believe in. And the art won't always be polite."
West then rambles a bit — he talks about art, artists, and Justin Timberlake crying at the VMAs because he lost — then explains that he smoked some weed before the show. And, in an ending that no one saw coming, West announced his plans to run for president of the United States of America.
"I have decided in 2020 to run for president," West said, before dropping the mic.
Here is Kanye West's full speech:
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]
Yes, I'll give $120/year
Yes, I'll give $120/year
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