Here is the full text of Kanye West’s acceptance speech for the 2015 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at this year’s MTV VMAs.
When you get to the end, you will say to yourself, “This dude’s crazy.” And then you will ask yourself, “Is Kanye West any more outlandish a candidate than Donald Trump?”
“Bro. Bro. Listen to the kids. Jeremy, I gotta put it down for a second. It’s beautiful — Jeremy Scott, the designer. First of all, thank you, Taylor for being so gracious and giving me this award this evening. Thank you. And I often think back to the first day I met you, also. You know, I think about, when I’m in the grocery store with my daughter and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice at — you know. And at the end, they say, ‘Oh, you’re not that bad after all.’ And like, I think about it sometimes — like, it crosses my mind a little when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me. 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 half a bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? Y'all know y'all drank that bottle, too. If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went onstage and grabbed the mic from someone else’s?
"You know, this arena, tomorrow, it’s gonna be a completely different setup; some concert, something like that. This stage will be gone. 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 just — I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee-Lo lose. Gnarls Barkley, and the FutureLove [sic] 'SexyBack’ album — and bro, Justin, I ain’t trying to put you on blast, but I saw that man in tears, bro. You know, and I was thinking like, he deserved to win Album of the Year. And this small box that we are, as the entertainers of the evening, how could you explain that? Sometimes I feel like, you know, all this shit they run about beef and all that? Sometimes I feel like I died for the artist’s opinion. For the artist to be able to have an opinion after they were successful.
"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 going to give me their award? Because it got them more ratings?
”Listen to the kids, bro!
“I still don’t understand award shows. I don’t understand how they get five people who work their entire life, one, sell records, sell concert tickets, to come, stand on a carpet, and for the first time in their life be judged on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it, bro. I don’t understand when the biggest album or the biggest video — I don’t understand it, bro. I’m conflicted! I just wanted people to like me more. But fuck it, bro! 2015! I will die for the art, for what I believe in. And the art ain’t always gonna be polite.
“Y'all 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 gonna happen tomorrow, bro. But all I can say to my artists, my fellow artists: Just worry how you feel at the time, man. Just worry about how you feel, and don’t never — know what I’m saying? I’m confident. I believe in myself. We are millennials, bro. This is a new — this is a new mentality. We’re not gonna control our kids with brands. We’re not gonna teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We’re gonna teach our kids that they can be something. We’re gonna teach our kids they can stand up for they self. We’re gonna teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather were here right now, he would not let me back down. 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 truth.
"And, yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for President.”
Kanye is so cute, y'all.— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 31, 2015
Btw… I JUST watched my man 'Ye’s FULL speech… He always has a point. And I support it. #truth— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 31, 2015