MTV Video Music Awards host Chelsea Handler put it, Kanye West was the "big, black elephant in the room" at this year's show. Following a long and well-documented history of awards-show rants, Kanye's return to the VMAs was a much-buzzed-about event.
And West knew it.
Instead of completely avoiding the controversy of last year's VMAs, Yeezy turned the event into fodder for his new track, which he debuted at the close of the show.
Funnyman Aziz Ansari sent up the "I'mma let you finish" debacle by yukking it up on a phone call from "Jersey Shore" castmember Ronnie but tossing to West's performance. The MC walked to the middle of the stage alone, sporting a fire-engine-red suit and gold chains, to a white MPC on a pedestal. West then punched out a few notes from his new song, the companion film for which viewers got a peek at during the pre-show, in the center of the black-and-white stage. A trio of dancers dashed onstage carrying beige scarves before West picked up the mic and began to spit.
"I always find something wrong/ You been putting up with my sh-- way too long," the MC rhymed, presumably referring to his various headline-hogging outbursts. "I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the most."
Then 'Ye, who has weathered an outsize amount of criticism, dedicated the performance to his mother and let loose.
"Let's have a toast for the douche bags/ Let's have a toast for the a--holes/ Let's have a toast for scumbags," West sang. The MC then dished out advice to listeners who may be dealing with the aforementioned "bags." "I got a plan/ Run away as fast as you can."
West collaborator and Clipse MC Pusha T then hit the stage, channeling "Miami Vice"-cool in a blush-colored blazer as the trio of dancers posed on the side. "I'm just young, rich and tasteless," Push spit.
For many, the performance can be seen as a major turning point in 'Ye's career. The producer and lyricist has spent the past year grappling with the downward turn of his public persona and retreated from the spotlight. Yeezy returned with the epic track "Power," got back into the awards-show game at the BET Awards and previewed new music for tech tastemakers in intimate workplace performances. And of course, he joined Twitter, typing out an entertaining and candid stream of missives, including an apology to Taylor Swift (Swift, for her part, also referenced the mic-grabbing business in her own VMA performance).
After rhyming the chorus once again, switching up his vocals with a reverb effect, West closed the performance on a triumphant note. The crowd chanted "Kanye!" as a curtain of pyro rained down onto the stage.
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