Taylor Swift Presents Kanye West VMAs Video Vanguard Award, Rapper Announces He’s “Running For President” In 2020
Swift’s presentation had been rumored in the days leading up to the VMAs, but was largely a surprise until the show’s announcer teased it early on in the ceremony. The unexpected moment came six years after West infamously interrupted Swift during the 2009 VMA ceremony, when he crashed the stage, took the mic, and announced, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.” The shocking incident became one of the most-talked about pop culture events of, well, all time.
Swift and West were widely considered enemies for the next several years, but seemed to make peace earlier this year when they hung out together at the Grammys, and discussed the possibility of a collaboration. In presenting the Video Vanguard Award to West, Swift now said, “I first met Kanye West six years ago, at this show actually!”
“Since then we’ve had a lot of time to talk about a lot of different things. It seems everyone knew about our infamous encounter at the VMAs. Something you may not know is that Kanye’s album College Dropout is the very first album my brother and I bought on iTunes when was 12 years old,” revealed Swift.
Swift went on to announce, “So I guess I have to say to all of the other winners tonight, I’m really happy for you and I’ma let you finish, but Kanye West has one of the greatest careers of all time.” West then took the stage to loud applause and the star-studded audience chanting his name. He waited a good time before beginning to speak, and even seemed to have tears in his eyes.
When he finally did, the rapper began, “Bro! Listen to the kids!” He went on in a LONG, rambling speech, “First of all, thank you Taylor for being so gracious and giving me this award this evening. And I often think back to the first day I met you also. I think about when I’m in the grocery store with my daughter and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice, you know, and at the end they say, ‘Oh you’re not that bad after all.'”
“And I think about it sometimes — it crosses my mind a little bit like when I go to a baseball game, and 60,000 people boo me. It crosses my mind a little bit, and I think if I had to do it all again, what would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank that half a bottle of Hennesy and give the rest of the it to the audience?… If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grab the mic from someone else?” he asked.
West continued, “You know, this arena tomorrow, it’s going to be a completely different set-up… After that night, the stage was gone, but the effect that it had on people remained. The problem was the contradiction. The contradiction is I do fight for artists, but in that fight I somehow was disrespectful to artists. I didn’t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing.”
“I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee Lo lose,” recalled the star. “Justin, I ain’t trying to put you on blast, but I saw that man in tears, though. And I was thinking, he deserved to win Album of the Year. And this small box that we are, as entertainers of the evening, how can you explain that? Sometimes I feel like all of this sh*t they run about beef and all that, sometimes I feel like I died for the artist’s opinion, for the artist to have an opinion after they were successful.”
West announced, “I’m not no politician, bro. And look at that! You know how many times MTV ran that footage again? Because it got them more ratings. You know how many times they announced Taylor was giving me the award because it got them more ratings? Listen to the kids, bro! I still don’t understand awards shows!”
“I don’t understand how they got five people who worked their entire life, sold concert tickets…. and come and be on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it, bro,” he said. “I’m conflicted, bro. I just wanted people to like me more. But f*ck that, bro,” yelled West.
West then exclaimed, “2015! I will die for the art, for what I believe in. And the art ain’t always going to be polite. You might be thinking right now, ‘I wonder, did he smoke something before he came out here?’ The answer is yes, I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off.”
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen tonight, I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, bro,” he continued. “To my fellow artists: Just worry about how you feel at the time… I’m confident. I believe in myself. We the millenials, bro. This is a new mentality. We’re not going to control our kids with brands. We’re not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We’re gonna teach our kids that they can be something.”
West then said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna lose after this. It don’t matter, though. Because it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truths.” He then finished by (likely jokingly) declaring, “And yes, you can probably guess in this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for President.” He then, as one might expect, dropped the mic.
Before Swift took the stage, the tribute to West began with a montage showing clips of his videos with a voiceover and words flashing on screen that related to his groundbreaking career. The Video Vanguard Award is MTV’s highest honor. Watch below to see how it all went down!