Kanye West covered a lot of topics in his nearly seven minutes on the 2016 VMA stage Sunday night (Aug. 28), from getting flak for comparing himself to geniuses throughout history to his infamous phone call to Taylor Swift about his controversial song “Famous.”
Read the full speech for yourself below:
I am Kanye West. And that feels really great to say, especially this year.
I came here to present my new video. But before I do that, I’mma talk. Now, later tonight, “Famous” might lose to Beyonce, but I can’t be mad. I’m always wishing for Beyonce to win, so… But for people to understand just how blessed we are, [the “Famous” video] was an expression of our now. Our fame right now. Us on the inside of the TV. You know, the audacity to put Anna Wintour next to Donald Trump. I mean, like, I put Ray J in it, bro. This is fame, bro. [He spots ex Amber Rose in the crowd.] I see you, Amber. My wife is a G. Not a lot of people’s wives would let them say that; my wife is a G. We came over in the same boat; now we all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats, but uh. But if you think about last week, it was 22 people murdered in Chicago. You know like, people come up to me like, “Yeah, that’s right, tell Taylor…” Bro, like, I love all y’all. That’s why I called her. [Laughs]
So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year, and one kid came up to me and he said, “Three of my friends died, and I don’t know if I’m gonna be the next.” And you have to think, like, when you’re a senior and it’s the last month and you don’t feel like doing any more work. If you feel like you’re seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like, “What’s the point?” Life could start to feel worthless in a way.
I know at times for me, I sit down and talk to older, rich people — a.k.a. white — and they tell me, “Don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs. Don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney.” And my friend Zakiyah told me — hey bruh-bruh [to noisy crowdmember]. They tell me, “Don’t compare yourself to these people,” and my friend Zakiyah told me, “It’s three keys to keeping people impoverished: Taking away their esteem, taking away their resources, and taking away their role models.” My role models are artist/merchants. There’s less than 10 that I can name in history: Truman. Ford. Hughes. Disney. Jobs. West.
Bro. Brooooooo. Tonight, we 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. Jaden 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 y’all have a good time. Play that.
Watch Kanye West’s new “Fade” video now.