“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.” In case you missed it, Kanye West took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night to receive the Video Vanguard award and, in typical Yeezus fashion, made a really long speech that shook up the social media world and angered old musical purists everywhere. He started his speech with an apology for interrupting Taylor Swift on that same stage many years ago, and ended with his presidential bid, while also admitting to some slight drug use, getting groceries, and a lot of other things along the way. Despite the fact that his speech seemed to be lacking in attention span, going from one place to the next with no finished thoughts or transitions whatsoever, and often sounding pretentious, there are numerous reasons why Kanye West said all the right things last night, and how most people will never admit it.
West starts of with his apology to Taylor Swift, and goes into why he did it. Though he never actually says “sorry”, he describes the reputation he gained in the public eye from that event, saying “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 Hennessy and given it to the rest of the audience? Ya’ll know ya’ll drink 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 can really see that he knew the effect that he had in the media with his stunt. However, what many people saw as nothing but an attention grab for the famous rapper, actually possessed much more meaning for him. He goes on to describe how he did what he did in support of the artists he cares about, saying, “The problem was, 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.” He clearly felt bad for what he had done, and was simply trying to defend other artists that he felt were just as deserving of the accolades. This love for his peers and for their art seems to be the root of his disdain for award shows.
Yeezy goes on to an incredibly scathing indictment of award shows, and the concept of giving out music awards. He describes, in detail, watching Justin Timberlake cry at the Grammy’s after losing the award, and you can see the pain that he feels in his heart over the situation. He also shows his anger over the exploitation of artists by awards shows. This biggest quote from this speech describes his hate with the whole concept of it, saying “You know how many times they announced Taylor was gonna give me the award because it got then 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 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 had the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it bruh! I don’t understand what the biggest album or the biggest video… I’ve been conflicted bro, I just wanted people to like me more. But f*** that BRO! 2015. I will die for the art, for what I believe in, and the art ain’t always gonna be polite.” Despite the drama of it all, Kanye said what needed to be said in an incredible way. People get so caught up in what “real music” is, and what artist is better than the next, and how [insert music here] sucks because they didn’t do whatever particular thing that person thinks makes good music. In a world where people can be judged so easily, Kanye pointed out something that the whole world should acknowledge: music is completely subjective. Every single person that creates music puts their heart and soul into the art they’re creating, and for people to say that their opinion is fact is reprehensible. For award shows to make the decision that one singular album or song or video was the best in the entire year is a completely ridiculous concept. Because it’s coming from an artist, however, the audience is quick to disregard it.
The fact of the matter is, Kanye is an advocate, ambassador, and fanatic of art and the artists that create it. He is encouraging people to be themselves and be proud of it and create whatever heart they feel inside of them, saying “We the millennials, bro. This is a new mentality. We not gonna control our kids with brands. We not going to 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 that they can stand up for themselves. We’re gonna teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down.” He’s fighting for the next generation of artists and for what he believes in, and for that reason, he has my vote in 2020.