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Arts and Entertainment

Here's Kanye West's Epic VMAs Speech

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MTV held their inaugural Video Music Awards ceremony in 1984, and since then their VMA stage has transformed into a venue for scripted drama and fake controversy. But Kanye West has always gone off-script, and tonight he delivered a pretty Real speech while accepting his Vanguard Award—during his 13 or so minutes he took down not only MTV, but award shows in general. Kanye for President! (Really.) He even criticized himself, asking, "If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went onstage and grabbed the mic from someone else?" Incidentally, Taylor Swift presented the award to him, and watched the speech from Kanye's seat, next to Kim Kardashian.

ICYMI, bro, here's the transcript since Viacom keeps taking down the videos of it surfacing on YouTube. [Update: This video works, for now]

Does he have your vote America? @kanyewest accepts the Video Vanguard award

— MTV (@MTV) August 31, 2015
“Bro! Bro! Listen to the kids! Jeremy, I got to put it down for a second. It's beautiful. Jeremy Scott designed it. 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, 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 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 a half a bottle of Hennessey and gave the rest of it to the audience? Y'all know y'all drink that bottle, too. If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else's? You know, this arena tomorrow, it's going to 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—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 "Sexy Back" 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 deserves 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 going on 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? Do you know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award because it got them more ratings?

This is for the kids, bro! I still don't understand awards shows. I don't understand how they get five people who work their entire life, one that sold records, sold concert tickets, to come, stand on a carpet, and for the first time in their life be judged on a 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 been conflicted, bro! I just wanted people to like me more!

But fuck that, bro! 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 going to happen tonight. I don't know what's going to 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—you know what I'm saying? I'm confident. I believe in myself. We the millennials, bro. This is a new mentality. We not going to control our kids with brands. We not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We going to teach our kids that they can be something. We going to teach our kids that they can stand up for they self. We're going to teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down. I don't know what I stand to 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.”

[Transcript courtesy of
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