“As you probably could’ve guessed, by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
Honestly, what else do you need to know about Kanye West’s epic, rambling, confusing, inspiring Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech at the VMAs on Sunday? That was the kicker, but here’s the rest of what he had to say before he declared his intentions. It started with some ruminating on the infamous Taylor Swift incident six years ago (she presented him with the award); segued into the unfairness of Hollywood award shows; and ended with his political ambitions.
First of all, thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious and 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, 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 a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me. It crosses my mind.
And 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 to the audience? Y’all 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 going to be a completely different setup, some concert, something like that. This stage will be gone. After that night, the stage was gone but the effect that it had on people remained. The problem was the contradiction. The contradiction 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 just — I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee-Lo lose. Gnarls Barkley and The “Future Sex Love Sounds” 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, like, he deserves to win Album of the Year.
And the small box that we are as the entertainers of the evening — how could you explain that? Sometimes I feel like, you know, all this about beef and all that, sometimes I feel like I died for the artist’s opinion, for the artist to be able to have an opinion after they were successful.
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 going to give me the award because it got them more ratings? Listen to the kids, bro!
I still don’t understand award shows. I don’t understand how they get five people who work their entire life, one that sold records, sold concert tickets, to come stand on a 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’ve been conflicted, bro! I just wanted people to like me more.
2015! I will die for the arts, for what I believe in, and the art ain’t always going to 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.
I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. I don’t know what’s going to 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 mentality. We not going to control our kids with brands. We’re not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We gonna teach our kids that they can be something. We’re going to teach our kids that they can stand up for themselves. We’re going to teach our kids to believe in themselves.
If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down. I don’t know what I stand to 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 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.
Host Miley Cyrus, of course, weighed in afterwards. “Trump, you had my vote,” she said. “But now, Kanye West for president!”
— MTV (@MTV) August 31, 2015
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