Kanye West’s VH1 Storytellers aired Saturday, February 28th, and provided the rapper with a venue to perform his greatest hits and talk candidly about everything except the actual songs. “You know, I’m like supposed to talk about what some of these songs mean, and some of this stuff is so personal to me, and some of stuff I’ve been through is so real,” West said following “Flashing Lights.” “In the format, I’m supposed to break down certain things … certain things are hard for me to talk about, and I’m sorry VH1 for that.”
Instead, West used the four minutes of instrumentation that followed each song as a place to rattle off whatever popped into his head, which included butchered movie quotes (“I get my quotes from movies because I don’t read”), musical influences (including Tenacious D, as we learn during “Robocop” — watch it, above) and a whole bunch of controversial statements — some of which did not make the show’s final cut.
“Michael Jackson, amazing. Michael Phelps, amazing,” West said during “Amazing,” with each name drawing a loud cheer from the Sony Studios crowd. However, when the rapper said “O.J. Simpson, amazing. Is he not, what he did, was he not amazing though,” the crowd just sat dumbfounded, and probably for a good reason. It’s like West intentionally tries to make himself a lightning rod for controversy, as even comments edited out of the telecast dissing Radiohead and supporting Chris Brown became a big story last week.
Thankfully, the performances were strong throughout the night, especially on 808s & Heartbreak‘s “Robocop” and Graduation‘s “Flashing Lights.” Where the show meandered, for example, is when three-and-a-half minute songs like “Heartless” became 10 minutes long, filled up with on-the-spot verses you’d probably hear at a coffee shop’s open mic night. “I’m just the star of The Truman Show,” West said, referencing the film where the entire world literally revolved around Jim Carrey. If nothing also, the Storytellers featured great performances and an in-depth look into West’s mega-sized ego. Check out Nah Right for video of the rest of the show.