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Kanye West‘s road to becoming the MTV Video Music Awards’ Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award recipient this year has been filled with seven historical performances that have tied him with Madonna for the most of any artist. Although West’s chart-topping music videos have earned him 30 VMA nominations, he’s only been able to snag two wins throughout the last decade. Now, West will be able to add a third special Moonman to his shelf as he receives an honor previously given to Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Guns N’ Roses and Britney Spears. From a 2004 College Dropout medley to becoming Yeezus onstage, here’s a look back on the seven performances that are bringing West’s VMA experience full circle.
1. 2004 – Jesus Walks/All Falls Down/Through the Wire with Chaka Khan
In 2004, West was a budding new rapper/producer, giddy to share his new music and far from voicing his controversial opinions of the music industry, the 43rd president of the U.S. and the fashion world. He performed a medley of hits from his debut College Dropout album consisting of “Jesus Walks” and “All Falls Down.” For the finale, he brought out Chaka Khan who braved through her laryngitis to help him with “Through the Wire.”
2. 2005 – “Gold Digger” with Jamie Foxx
West and Foxx graced the Miami ceremony with a performance of their “Gold Digger” anthem as they made it rain on the audience while dancing on a spinning floor. West also won his first Moonman for “Jesus Walks” as the best male video.
3. 2007 – “Good Life” with T-Pain
After presenting the Video Vanguard award to music video director and friend Hype Williams in 2006, West returned back to the stage a year later with T-Pain to bring the “Good Life” to Las Vegas in the Palms’ Hugh Hefner sky villa. West’s performance generated good vibes with the audience, but he had a meltdown backstage after losing in all of his five nominated categories, specifically mentioning his loss to the Black Eyed Peas the previous year. He claimed he would never come back to MTV.
4. 2008 – “Love Lockdown”
In 2008, West donned the same gray suit and heart pin he wore on his 808s and Heartbreak album to perform “Love Lockdown.” He was nominated in two categories and won the VMA for best special effects on the “Good Life” music video with T-Pain.
5. 2010 – “Runaway”
After his Taylor Swift incident, West returned in 2010 to sing his “toast to the douchebags” as he sang a drama-free version of Runaway with Pusha T and ballerinas.
6. 2011 – “Otis” with Jay-Z
Jay-Z joined West for their Watch The Throne hit “Otis” as the two rappers debuted as a “duo” while their music video played in the background. West earned six nominations, but his “E.T.” music video with Katy Perry won for best collaboration.
7. 2013 – “Blood on the Leaves”
West debuted his Yeezus persona as he took the stage to perform the heavy track “Blood on the Leaves” where the stage lighting was dimmed to focus on the backdrop of trees.
Watch West receive the VMA’s highest honor, along with performances by Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Pharrell, during the MTV Video Music Awards airing live on MTV at 9 p.m. on Aug. 30.
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