Kanye West Talks Violence, Defends "Famous," Introduces New Video at VMAs 2016
The rapper, who went into Sunday night's show up for two awards, reportedly got four minutes to do whatever he wanted.
Kanye West spoke for more than six minutes before introducing a new video at the 2016 VMAs. West's wife, Kim Kardashian, was also on hand at the awards show and could be seen smiling in the audience as her husband talked.
West walked out on an empty stage to his hit "Famous," the video for which went into Sunday night's show up for two awards, including video of the year. During his somewhat rambling speech, he shouted out various members of the audience; defended his controversial song, insisting he "called" Taylor Swift before he released it; and talked about violence in Chicago.
"Later tonight 'Famous' might lose to Beyonce but I can't be mad. I'm always wishing for Beyonce to win," West said of his video, alluding to his 2009 VMA appearance, in which he interrupted best female video winner Taylor Swift to insist "Beyonce had the best video of all time." Both "Famous" and Beyonce's "Formation" were up for video of the year honors," with "Formation" later winning the top prize.
He then defended the "Famous" video, which features Swift and other stars naked in bed with the rapper, saying, "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 — the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, I put Ray J in there, bro. This is fame, bro … We came over in the same boat, now we're all in the same bed. Maybe different boats."
He then switched gears a bit, talking about violence, saying, "Last week, it was 22 people murdered in Chicago … I love all y'all [when people tell him to go after Swift]. That's why I called her … So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year and one kid came up to me, and he said, 'Three of my friends died and I don't know if I'll be the next.' You know like when you're a senior and it's the last month and you just don't feel like doing any more work. If you feel like you're see people dying next to you, you might feel like what's the point. Life can start to feel worthless. I sit down and talk to older, rich people (aka 'white') and they tell me, 'Don't compare yourself to [Steve] Jobs; don't compare yourself [Walt] Disney.' ... My friend told me … There's three keys to keeping people impoverished. That's taking away their esteem, taking away their resources and taking away their role models. My role models are artists, merchants, there's less than 10 that I can name in history: [Harry] Truman, [Henry] Ford, [Howard] Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West. Tonight we're here to have fun ... We are undeniably the influence — the thought leaders."
Kardashian was seen laughing as West referred to her sex tape partner, Ray J.
A report ahead of West's appearance stated that the rapper had been given four minutes to do whatever he wanted.
West has made headlines with his past VMA appearances, using his 2015 Video Vanguard speech (accepting the award from frenemy Taylor Swift) to announce he would be running for president in 2020.
Since that appearance, in which it seemed West and Swift had made up after he famously interrupted her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, the artists' temporary truce seems to have collapsed amid conflicting accounts of whether Swift approved two controversial lines in West's "Famous." ("I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. I made that bitch famous.") West and Kardashian have insisted, and posted video that seemed to illustrate the same, that they called her and ran the lyrics by her.
After his speech, West debuted the video for his song, "Fade," which can be seen below.