2010: The Best of Kanye West

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Kanye West's latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, only officially came out Nov. 22, but in what was one of the longest and arguably most successful rollouts of 2010, you couldn't turn on a television set, your computer or a smart phone these past six months without seeing his name. Kanye's year started off slowly -- and relatively quietly -- having put his 2009 scandals (namely the one involving Taylor Swift) behind him, but once the promotional campaign kicked off with his G.O.O.D. Friday giveaways on Aug. 20 (he released a new track every week), it was on. Here, 10 key moments in what was yet another year of Ye. 

Kanye Joins Twitter (July 28, 2010)

Within 24 hours of opening his official Twitter on July 28, Kanye had already amassed 220,000 followers. Within six months, that number would balloon to 1.8 million, most hoping to witness a moment of lyrical genius, some philosophical musings ("If baroque and mod had a car crash... what would that ambulance look like?"), his take on the media ("Even now a lot of articles start there [sic] first 2 paragraphs about how much of an asshole I am") or on himself (“I love me"). No matter what the topic, practically every Kanye missive is guaranteed to be retweeted, and some, like his Sept. 4 apology to Taylor Swift, are among 2010’s most trafficked, Yet Ye still follows no one. 
 
“Power” Play (Aug. 1, 2010)
 
Kicking off the promotional campaign for one of the year’s most anticipated films, The Social Network, was the equally buzzed about new Kanye song “Power,” featured in the trailer. With a mantra that declared, “No one man should have all that power,” it seemed perfectly cast for the tense David Fincher film, which came in at No. 1 at the box office three months later. 
 
 
Return to the VMAs (Sept. 12, 2010)
 
After a year spent mostly out of the spotlight, Kanye’s return to the VMAs stage was a minimalist spectacle of sound and vision with an unapologetic chorus you just couldn’t shake: “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags.” “Runaway,” an early taste of his future album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, set the tone for the campaign that followed, including a mini feature film and a Saturday Night Live performance. 
 
 
SNL White-Out (Oct. 2, 2010)
 
Even after dissing the venerated variety show in the lyrics to “Power” -- in which Kanye, still reeling from the Swift incident, raps, “"F--- 'SNL' and the whole cast. Tell 'em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass" -- not only did he book the coveted performance slot, the producers clearly had full faith in Kanye, allowing him to forego the show’s Grand Central Station set for his own white-themed goddesses and ballerinas vision. 
 
 
Kanye, Director (Oct. 5, 2010)
 
Taking a page out of the Michael Jackson handbook, Kanye opted for a supersized music video to introduce My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. At 35 minutes long, the mini-movie “Runaway,” which Ye directed and Hype Williams wrote, was a stunning display of color and dance that featured no fewer than nine songs. Starring model Selita Ebanks as the eternally symbolic phoenix, it was praised by most music critics as a true art-film, though there were detractors who saw it as an ostentatious vanity project. 
 
 
Cover Controversy (Oct. 18, 2010)
 
A month before street date, Kanye released the cover art to Fantasy, claiming it had been banned by Wal-Mart. The image, which he described as a "painting of a monster with no arms and a polka-dot tail and wings," was undoubtedly racy, and Ye jumped to defend it. "In the 70s album covers had actual nudity," he tweeted. "It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now... I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity." 
 
Here Today, Gone Today (Nov. 9, 2010)
 
Kanye preceded his Today freak-out with a caveat and a pause. “Everything I say gets taken and drawn into headlines,” he noted, trying gather his thoughts on George Bush’s angry admission: Kanye’s post-Katrina remark -- that the former President “doesn’t like black people” -- was a low point of his eight years in office. You could say the same for morning television. As host Matt Lauer peppered the rap star with what could be considered antagonistic questions, Kanye got testy then downright angry once a video clip started playing mid-answer.  “I don’t need all the jazz,” Ye chided the producers and Today as an institution. Two days later, Kanye vented his frustration on Twitter. “HE TRIED TO FORCE MY ANSWERS. IT WAS VERY BRUTAL AND I CAME THERE WITH ONLY POSITIVE INTENT ...,” Kanye tweeted. “I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused ... I don't trust anyone but myself! Everyone has an agenda. I don't do press anymore. I can't be everything to everybody anymore ... I can't be everybody's hero and villain savior and sinner Christian and anti Christ! ... I can't take anymore advice!!! I create, I'm creative, I have a good heart, everyone will see and understand one day."
 
 
Lower East Side Surprise (Nov. 24, 2010)
 
Two days after the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye gathered some of his famous friends onstage at New York’s Bowery Ballroom -- among them Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, John Legend and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon -- with several more (Diddy, Mos Def) in the audience. Tickets for the surprise performance, which Kanye tweeted about six hours before he hit the stage, were reportedly going for more than $1,000, and it’s no wonder: The Lower East Side concert space only holds 550. But in rolling out new tunes, Kanye also treaded on tired territory, complaining that Taylor Swift doesn’t defend him in interviews and defending his own remarks about President Bush. He did, however, thank the media for embracing Fantasy with "perfect scores across the board." 
 
 
Giving Thanks: Too Little, Too Late? (Nov. 25, 2010)
 
Today host Matt Lauer and Kanye would once again cross paths for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, where the rapper performed the song “Lost in the World” while positioned front and center on a giant red apple float. Despite the expletives, it would have been a relatively quiet affair were it not for the boos.  
 
 
Dead Models, Inc. (December 2010)
 
Besides featuring hip-hop pals Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nicky Minaj in the video for Kanye’s latest single, “Monster,” the clip also stars a cadre of deceased models lying dead in bed, hanging by nooses and in various forms of disfigurement -- proof that when it comes to being provocative, Kanye’s not done yet.
 
 
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