No script. No limits. Yeezus speaks.
The whole of Madison Square Garden held its collective breath as Kanye West took to the stage at the MTV VMAs on Sunday night.
The annual awards have long been the scene for some of the 39-year-old’s biggest rants but given free reign, the star tried to avoid controversy in favour of covering ever hot topic he could think off from Taylor Swift to gun violence, his genius to his wife’s sex tape.
Introducing his very racy video for track Fade, the husband of Kim Kardashian reminded the entertainment industry crowd that they are the blessed ones while simultaneously weighing into the issue of gun violence.
With the crowd chanting Yeezus, the star clad all in white said: ‘I am Kanye West and it feels really great to say that – especially this year. I came here to present my new video but before I do that I’m going to talk.’
And talk he did, slowly but passionately with humour and, of course, the classic Kanye level of humbleness.
Starting with a joke and making reference to his fude with Taylor, he said: ‘Now later tonight Famous’ might lose to Beyoncé but I can’t be mad. I’m always wishing for Beyoncé to win so…
‘For people to understand just how blessed we are, [Famous] was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV… [I had the] audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump.’
Kanye then made a few jokes at his own expense giving shout outs to his wife’s and his former lovers.
‘I mean, I put Ray J in there bro! This is fame, bro! Like, I see you Amber. ‘My wife is a G! Not a lot of people’s wives would let them say that.’
Both his former love – and one time nemesis – Amber Rose and current love, Kim, beamed as Kanye then launched into another direction – violence and Taylor – who wisely skipped this year’s awards and speech.
‘We came over in the same boat, now we’re all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats, but, if you think about last week, there was 22 people murdered in Chicago.
‘People come up to me like, ”Man, that’s right, take Taylor down,” – Bro, I love all of y’all. That’s why I called her.’
Surprisingly, the Life Of Pablo rapper did not use his carte blanche to take aim at the country singer any further.
Instead Kanye waxed lyrical about the importance of being a role model – especially as young black men continue to get slaughtered in the streets.
‘So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year and one kid came up to me and said ”Three of my friends died and I don’t know if I’m going to be next.” ‘If you’re seeing people dying next to you might think, what’s the point? Life can start to feel worthless in a way.
‘I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, like rich people, you know? A.K.A. White. And they tell me don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs. Don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney.
‘My friend [J. Sakiya Sandifer] told me there’s three keys to keeping people impoverished; taking away their esteem, their resources, and their role models.’
‘Tonight, we’re here to have fun! I’m standing in front of my idol Puff Daddy. I’m standing in front of my wife Kim Kardashian-West. I’m standing in front of the future, Chance the Rapper. 2 Chainz. Jayden Smith.
‘Bro, we are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. ‘I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art and I just hope you all have a good time.’
But his most controversial MTV moment remains his 2009 stage invasion when he interrupted Taylor as she accepted her award declaring Beyonce should have won it.
That moment later inspired Kanye to rap in Famous about Taylor saying that he ‘made that b***h famous’.
While Kanye cleared it with the pop star first – and recorded their conversation – she would later go on to claim she was hurt and blindsided sparking one of music’s biggest feuds.