Kanye West was one of the few creatives honored at the eight annual 2015 BET Honors — taped in January, and aired on February 23, 2015. Aside from West, the honoree list included Usher, actress Phylicia Rashad, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and chairman of Microsoft and CEO of Virtual Instruments John W. Thompson.
Damon Dash and his daughter Ava Dash presented ‘Ye with the Visionary Award. Dash, who co-founded Roc-A-Fella, was brutally honest when delivering his speech. In the beginning of his speech he said, “my history with Kanye was… I didn’t respect him as a rapper because I was around the greatest rappers, but I did think it was brave of him to say ‘I’m a rapper’ just because he felt like it.” Dash’s words shouldn’t come as a huge surprise; he’s expressed his initial hesitance towards ‘Ye’s rap skills when meeting him, but became receptive of his talents beyond production when seeing his work ethic. “He does more than most,” Dash said.
“Kanye: for your courage, and your creativity for inspiring the world without being scared, I’m proud to present [you] the Visionary Award from BET Honors,” Dash closed his speech.
After sharing a kiss with his wife, Kim Kardashian-West, West took the stage to accept the award. He kicked off his speech with a joke about his ego, “I think for the first time in my life I understand how it feels to be humbled.”
He continued to express his appreciation for BET and touched on love, racism and perception — both genuinely (“forced to focus on the idea of love, and not the idea of separation”) and sarcastically: “I just want to say my wife has dated broke black dudes, so it ain’t got nothing to do with the money.”
After accepting the award, ‘Ye was joined on stage by Charlie Wilson for an impromptu performance including a freestyle over “Yearning For Your Love.” Ellen DeGeneres and Wayne Brady later joined for their own freestyle sessions.