Taylor Swift Gives Kanye The Video Vanguard Award

by Jenny Hollander

The defining moment of the 2009 VMAs — let's face it, 2009 generally — was when Kanye West and Taylor Swift first appeared onstage together. In the middle of Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me" (wow, doesn't that Swift era feel like a million years ago?), Kanye jumped up on stage and declared, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time," leaving Taylor stunned and devastated. Six years and a gazillion memes later, Swift and West appeared onstage together once more so that Swift could give Kanye the Video Vanguard Award, and it was sensational.

"I first met Kanye West six years ago... At this show, actually!" Swift said. "Since then ,we've had a lot of time to talk about a lot of different things ... Something that you may not know is that Kanye West's first album, "College Dropout," was the first album my brother and I ever bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old. Years of studying the craft and the art of fashion, and even learned to sew before launching his own line, which has been wildly successful. I have been a fan of his before I can even remember, because Kanye defines what it means to be a creative force in fashion, music, and, well, life."

"To all the winners, I have to say... I'm really happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the biggest careers of all time!" Swift said, finally, prompting Kanye to come on stage.

The accompanying video preceding Swift's speech was an ode to Kanye, featuring various video clips — some from Kanye's music videos, some from home videos, like one featuring North with her daddy — alongside words like, "Vision" and "Strong." The narrator declared, "He wants to be the best. Every day it spent pursuing the images that haunt his dreams. When we see his work, we feel his energy. It transforms us ... He advances culture by destroying what came before so we can start anew ... We have to fight for our visionaries."

"I think about, when I'm in the grocery store with my daughter, and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice, and in 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 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? ... If I had a daughter at that time, would I have gone on stage and grabbed the mind from someone else's?"

Of course, Swift and West haven't had beef for quite some time. Perhaps the lowest point of West's career so far was in the immediate aftermath of the incident; he was criticized by everyone from former president Jimmy Carter to actual president Barack Obama, and West apologized both publicly and personally to Swift. Now, they're buddies again, and Kanye isn't shy about parodying himself in that moment.

During this year's Grammy Awards, West pretended to approach the stage when Beck won Album Of The Year over Beyoncé. And earlier during the 2015 VMAs, Kanye pretended to leap out of his seat when Swift accepted her award for — you guessed it — Best female Video. I see what you did there, Kanye.