Since Jay Leno announced the first-ever musical guest on his new The Jay Leno Show would be Jay-Z with Rihanna and Kanye West a few weeks ago, anticipation has been building for what was to be the “Umbrella” star’s return to the spotlight — her first major televised appearance since she was assaulted by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in February.
But all eyes were on Leno tonight for an unexpected reason: Kanye West. After igniting a firestorm of controversy by invading the MTV Video Music Awards stage last night to protest Beyoncé’s loss of Best Female Video to Taylor Swift, West spent most of the day uncharacteristically under the radar, posting an apology on his blog in which he said he felt as awkward as Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents. On Leno, West was greeted by cheers. He apologized, called his actions on the VMAs “rude,” and vowed to take time off to address personal problems that may have led to his unexpected rant.
Leno thanked West for appearing on his show despite the drama, and added that West wanted to take the opportunity to speak to the public. Saying his day had been “extremely difficult,” West acknowledged he had spent the afternoon “dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away from a talented artist.” Reflecting on the few seconds that got him booted from MTV’s ceremony at Radio City Musical Hall, West said he knew his stunt had gone awry “As soon as I gave the mic back to her and she didn’t keep going.”
Adding that he has spent his life trying to help people, West said, “My entire life, I’ve only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right. And I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong, and it wasn’t a spectacle … it’s actually someone’s emotions, you know, that I stepped on.”
West concluded that his outburst was “rude, period” and said he wishes to apologize to Swift in person. When Leno asked West what his deceased mother, Donda, what would have said about this situation, West looked wounded and took a moment to respond, wiping his forehead as Leno pressed on, asking if she’d give him a lecture.
“I deal with hurt. And, you know, so many celebrities, they never take the time off. I’ve never taken the time off to really — you know, just music after music and tour after tour,” he said, perhaps referring to his next project — his upcoming jaunt with Lady Gaga, which announced its first four dates on Friday, before the VMAs.
“But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I’m going to make it through the rest of this life, how I’m going to improve. Because I am a celebrity, and that’s something I have to deal with,” he said.
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Noting he was simply “ashamed that my hurt caused someone else’s hurt” West tried to reach out to Swift, offering to do anything he could to help the young star in the future. “I want to live this thing,” he concluded.
West then put on his shades and joined Jay-Z and Rihanna for a performance of Jay’s The Blueprint 3 single “Run This Town,” as the three had performed it at Jigga’s 9/11 benefit last Friday in New York. Unlike the boos he got last night, West received cheers when he finished his verse, and the crowd gave the trio a warm reception as they ended the track.