Transcript Of Kanye West VMAs Speech Shows His Passion, Commitment To Artistry, & Refusal To Back Down To Any Haters
MTV said it best when it was first announced that Kanye West would receive the 2015 VMAs' Video Vanguard Award: "This speech will be amazing." It seems that whenever Kanye speaks publicly, he gains attention for impassioned words about the issues he cares about, so between that reputation and his history of major VMAs moments, Sunday night's audience knew something unforgettable would happen when he took the podium. As the transcript of Kanye's VMAs speech below shows, he more than lived up to the hype, getting things off to a powerful start by saying absolutely nothing. For what felt like minutes, Kanye stood in the middle of the stage silently, while everyone cheered around him and eventually chanted his name. Finally, Kanye just yelled "Bro!" twice, before launching into his full speech.
Kanye started by thanking Jeremy Scott for designing his award, and then Taylor Swift for presenting it to him with an incredible speech, referencing their first meeting on stage at the 2009 VMAs and how profoundly it impacted his life.
Bro. Broooo. Listen to the kids. Jeremy, I gotta put it down for a second. It's beautiful, Jeremy Scott designed. First of all, thank you Taylor for being so gracious and giving me this award this evening and 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 at the, ya know....and at the end they say 'oh, you're not that bad after all.' And like, I think about it sometimes. It crosses my mind a little bit like when I go to a baseball game and um, 60,000 people boo me. It crosses my mind a little bit.
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 Hennessey and gave the rest of it to the audience? I know y'all drank 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?
Kanye become more and more emotional throughout his speech, continuing to discuss the 2009 incident and using it as a lens to talk about how he seeks to champion other artists, which can lead to thes
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, that 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. And the FutureLove Sexy Back album...and Justin, I ain't trying to put you on blast, but I saw that man in tears, bro. and I was thinking like, he deserved to win album of the year. And this small box that we are, as the entertainers of the evening, how could you explain that? Sometimes I feel like, you know, all this sh*t they run about beef and all that, sometimes I feel like I died for the artist's opinion. For an artist to be able to have an opinion after they were successful.
The rapper then turned his attention to the concept of awards shows in general, eliciting strong responses from the live audience.
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, 'cause 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 sold records, sold concert tickets. To come, stand on the carpet, and for the first time in their life be judged on the 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 and the biggest video, I've been conflicted, bro. I just wanted people to like me more. But f*ck that, bro! 2015! I will die for the art. For waht I believe in, and the art 'aint always going to be polite. Y'all might be thinking right now, I wonder, did he smoke something before he came out here? The answer is: yes. I rolled up a little somethin'. I brought the edge off.
And he still wasn't done. Kanye then turned his attention to other artists, as well as the next generation, encouraging them to stand up for themselves.
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 gonna control our kids with brands. We not gonna teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We gonna teach our kids that they can be something. We gonna teach our kids that they can stand up for themselves. We gonna 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'm gonna lose after this. It don't matter, though. 'Cause it aint about me. It's about new ideas, people with ideas, people who believe in truth.
So, how does one end a speech that intense? On a totally unexpected, amazing, hilarious, proclamation:
And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment...I have decided in 2020 to run for president.
Honestly, after that honest, inspiring, intense Video Vanguard speech, Kanye has my vote.
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