Kanye West reportedly had one restriction for his time on the MTV Video Music Awards telecast: it could only be four minutes. Beyond that, ‘Ye was free to his own devices to do whatever it is he wanted to do, and needless to say it did not disappoint.
While the incredible floating stage from his Saint Pablo tour wasn’t a viable option, Kanye made do with the measly VMA set. Instead of an actual performance, he gave a speech, whenever the crowd let him talk. He poked fun at his infamous Taylor Swift incident and came out to the controversial lyrics from “Famous” that caused her to lash out, Kanye’s wife Kim to expose Taylor for approving them.
“My wife is a G,” he said of the incident while also quipping “That’s why I called her,” referring to Taylor. He also talked about violence in Chicago and oppression. It was classic Kanye: spastic, sporadic, knowledgeable, humors, outrages and every other adjective associated with Yeezy. “Tonight, we’re here to have fun,” he said, and clearly that’s what he was doing.
He talked up the “Famous” video and premiered his new video “Fade” and eventually exited stage left to a standing ovation.
Read a full transcript of his speech, courtesy of Genius.
I am Kanye West, and that feels really great, especially to say this year. I came here to present my new video, but before that, I’ma talk. Now… Later tonight, “Famous” might lose to Beyoncé, but I can’t be mad—I’m always wishing for Beyoncé to win, so, you know! But for people to understand just how blessed we are. It was an expression of our now. Our fame right now. Us on the inside of the TV. You know, just to put… the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump… I mean, like, I put Ray J in there, bruh! This is fame, bro! Like… I see you, Amber! My wife is a G, not a lot of people’s wives would let ’em say that! We came over in the same boat, now we all in the same bed. Well… maybe different boats but you know. If you think about it, last week, it was 22 people murdered in Chicago. You know like, people come to me like, “Man, that’s right! Tell Taylor to..”. Bro, like I love all y’all! That’s why I called her! So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year and one kid came up to me and said, “Three of my friends died and I don’t know if I’m gonna be the next.” And it has to… you know, you have to think like, you know when you’re a senior and it’s like the last month and you just don’t feel like doing anymore work? If you feel like you’re seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like what’s the point? You know like, life could be like, start to feel worthless in a way. I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, rich people, you know (AKA WHITE!) and uh… they tell me, “Don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs, don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney.” And my friend Sekaya told me, “Ayy bruh bruh…”
They tell me don’t compare yourself to these people right? My friend Sekaya told me it’s three keys to keeping people impoverished; taking away their esteem, taking away their resources, and taking away their role models. My role models are artists, merchants. It’s less than 10 I can name in history. Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West
Tonight we’re here to have fun. I’m standing in front of my idol, Puff Daddy. I’m standing in front of my wife, Kim Kardashian West. I’m standing in front of the future, Chance The Rapper. 2 Chainz, Jaden Smith. Bro! We are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art and I hope y’all have a good time