It’s been six years since Kanye West famously stormed the MTV Video Music Awards stage and declared that Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” deserved to win Best Female Video, not Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Yet watching this year’s VMAs, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the incident only happened last year—all players involved milked the Taylor-Kanye incident for all they could. MTV incorporated a clip of the rapper’s meme-tastic outburst during the intro of the Best Female Video category, and a few seconds later he hammed it up for the audience when she won over Beyoncé again. And then, of course, to demonstrate for the second time in the night how the cycle of public celebrity feuds can come full circle, Taylor presented Kanye with the 2015 Video Vanguard Award.
“I first met Kanye West six years ago, at this show, actually,” Taylor began with a twinkle in her eye. She went on to praise Kanye for his fashion sense and creativity, citing the College Dropout as the first album she bought off of iTunes when she was 12 years old. She ended her intro by calling him her “friend.”
But the real fireworks went off when Swift left the stage to join Kim Kardashian in the audience for the most awkward, most epic, most Kanye speech we may ever hear in our lifetimes. It’s so awkward, epic, and Kanye—it actually ends with him declaring his candidacy for president and then dropping the mic!—that you need to watch it for yourself:
Update, Aug. 30, 2015: Here's the transcript, in all its Kanye glory:
“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. [Cheers and applause]
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. [Cheers and applause]
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? [Cheers and applause]
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! [Cheers and applause]
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. [Cheers and applause]
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.” [Cheers and applause]