Taylor Swift presented the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to Kanye West during Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles — and the rapper announced that he will eventually run for president.
“I have decided in 2020 to run for president,” West stunned audiences at the conclusion of his speech.
When West first took the stage, he embraced a long applause from the audience before beginning his speech.”Thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious and giving me the award this evening,” West said. “I often think back to the first day I met you also,” he said with a smile, while Swift and wife Kim Kardashian embraced, looking up at the rapper.
Swift introduced him with a reference to her 2009 MTV VMA acceptance speech that he interrupted by hopping on stage and grabbing the microphone away from her: “It seemed like everyone knew about our infamous encounter at the VMAs,” she said, and quipped, “I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish.” During her 2009 speech, West said to Swift, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.”
West covered a variety of topics during his acceptance speech, which included an apology for his past behavior at awards shows: “The contradiction is I do fight for artists, but in that fight I was somehow disrespectful to artists. I didn’t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing,” West said.
“I will die for the art, for what I believe in, and art ain’t always going to be polite,” West continued. “We gotta teach our kids that they can be something. That they can stand up for themselves. If my grandfather was here, he would not let me back down.”
He also hinted at the fact that he took “something” before the show: “I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off,” but reminded audiences, “It ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro.”
The Vanguard Award recognizes musicians who have made a strong effect on MTV culture, while also honoring their work. Past recipients of the award include Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Britney Spears, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Miley Cyrus hosted the 2015 awards, with featured performances from Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Tori Kelly, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Pharrell, Nicki Minaj and Twenty One Pilots With A$AP Rocky.
Watch West’s full speech below.
— MTV (@MTV) August 31, 2015