Kanye West Jabs MTV, Award Process in VMA Vanguard Award Speech - Rolling Stone
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Kanye West Jabs MTV, Award Process in VMA Vanguard Award Speech

“I still don’t understand award shows,” rapper says in impassioned speech

Kanye West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, with Taylor Swift — the artist West infamously interrupted six years ago at the VMAs — presenting the award.

Swift referenced the moment when West first met as she spoke highly of the rapper, noting that College Dropout was the first album her and her brother bought on iTunes when she was 12. She then noted that the pair have become friends since that moment. 

After a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, West finally began his speech reflecting on the moment. “If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went onstage and grabbed the mic from someone else?” he asked.

Later in his speech, West noted how MTV profited off that moment and continued to promote the tension. “I still don’t understand award shows,” he noted as he wondered aloud how the process for winning Grammy Awards and VMAs work. “I’m not no politician, bruh. You know how many times MTV ran that footage [of West interrupting Swift] again? Because it got them more ratings.”

His stream of consciousness speech ended with West not only revealing to the audience that he had “smoked a little” before the show, but that he would be running for president in 2020. 

West joins a well-rounded list of Video Vanguard Award winners, including Jackson himself, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé. In just over a decade, West has been nominated for 30 Moonmen, though he’s only taken home two (Best Male Video for “Jesus Walks” in 2005 and Best Special Effects for “Good Life” in 2008).

His low number of VMA wins hardly reflects the dynamic and stunning visuals he’s produced over the years. His early clips are highlighted by the powerful “Jesus Walks” and the first-person “All Falls Down,” and his career has progressed, so have his cinematic, lush clips. Most recently, he split audiences with the ornate and romantic “Bound 2,” which starred his wife Kim Kardashian and a motorcycle.

His filmography ahs expanded to the 40-minute Runaway, which promoted his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the Cruel Summer short he premiered at Cannes in 2012 and a collaboration with director Steve McQueen.

West is currently preparing a highly-anticipated follow-up to Yeezus. He debuted several singles earlier in the year as well as the title Swish, though he has yet to reveal a release date.


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