August 25, 2013 9:00am PT by Jackie Mansky
MTV VMAs: A Kanye West Retrospective (Video)
When Kanye West takes the MTV Video Music Award Stage in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Sunday to perform his single "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD" from his latest album, Yeezus, he will tie Madonna’s record for the most live VMA performances, ever. It seems only fitting that West can also give Madge a run for her money when it comes to controversies during the show, as well.
The three-time VMA award winner has made headlines for doing everything from calling MTV racist (for choosing Britney Spears rather than him to host the 2007 ceremony), to swearing to never return after losing all five categories he was nominated for that year. He then decided to go back to the VMAs, only to infamously grab the microphone from Taylor Swift when she accepted the award for the best female video (which has now evolved into a jam joke).
But controversies aside, the VMAs are about the music -- aren't they? And it's indisputable that West has had some of the biggest hits of the past decade. The polarizing rapper is known for being inventive, and each of his past VMA performances show a different side of Mr. West. Here's a look back at his six performances to date from singing as money rains down to foraying into auto tune:
It started in 2004, when West made his VMA debut walking through the crowd to the stage to perform a medley of “Jesus Walks/All Falls Down/Through the Wire.” He was accompanied by a live band and then joined onstage by the legendary Chaka Khan, who sang despite her laryngitis.
West would return the following year in Miami, to perform the chart-topping “Gold Digger” with Jamie Foxx. While his first VMA appearance featured a more philosophical West, this performance was pure show with West and Foxx spinning on a revolving floor as money rained down on the audience.
West came back in 2007 to perform "Stronger" and "Good Life" with T-Pain in Las Vegas in a fantasy suite at the Palms' Hugh Hefner Sky Villa. The suite was small enough that West was able to give his performance an electric, yet intimate vibe.
In 2008, West went from close quarters to closing the show, concluding the VMAs with the hugely influential hip-hop anthem "Love Lockdown." West, wearing a red, glowing heart that he placed outside of his jacket, performed the auto-tuned anthem to flashing lights and fireworks.
West followed that up in 2010 with the visual feat that was "Runaway." The singer took to the stage wearing a fiery red suit and gold chains across a white backdrop. His most abstract performance on the VMAs to date, the show was a refreshing change for the singer.
In 2011, in West’s most recent VMA appearance, he and Jay-Z gave audiences an sneak peak into their new LP, Watch the Throne, with a performance of "Otis." The last minute performance set the mood for the night, with its simple, yet energetic vibe.
The MTV VMAs air live on Sunday, Aug. 25, from Brooklyn's Barclays Center at 8 p.m. ET/PT.