The producers of the MTV 2016 Video Music Awards gave Kanye West four minutes to do anything he wanted, and it turned out what he wanted to do was give a rambling speech that spanned topics from his controversial “Famous” video to gun violence in Chicago to “artist merchants” like Walt Disney (sure!), Howard Hughes (well, maybe, if you really like Hell’s Angels), and “Truman,” presumably from West obsession The Truman Show, rather than the president and haberdasher. (Neither one is a historical example of an “artist merchant,” come on, Kanye.)
But West’s baffling speech was only a prelude to even more madness: He was there to introduce the new video for “Fade,” from Life of Pablo. Starring Teyana Taylor, a bunch of vintage exercise equipment, and a very minimalist workout outfit, the video builds to an ending that’s even more unexpected than anything Kanye had to say. Watch it below:
Here are West’s complete remarks:
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’m going to talk.
Now later tonight, “Famous” might lose to Beyoncé, but I can’t be mad—I’m always wishing for Beyoncé to win, so—But for people to understand just how blessed we are—it was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV. You know, just to put—the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, like, I put Ray J* in there, bro! This is fame, bro! Like—I see you, Amber. My wife is a G, not a lot of people’s wives will let them say that. We came over in the same boat, now we all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats.
But if you think about last week it was 22 people murdered in Chicago. You know, like, people come up to me like, “Man, that’s right, tell Taylor to … ” Like, bro, I love all y’all. That’s why I called her. 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 going to be the next.” And it has to—you know, you have to think like, you know when you’re a senior and it’s the last month and you just don’t feel like doing any more work? If you’re feeling like you’re seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like what’s the point, you know? Like life could be like, starting to feel worthless in a way.
Like I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, like, rich people—aka white. And they tell me, “Don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs, don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney.” And my friend Sakaya—they tell me, “Don’t compare yourself to these people,” and my friend Sakaya 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. Bro! Tonight we are here to have fun. I’m standing in front of my idol Puff Daddy. I’m standing here in front of my wife, Kim Kardashian West. I’m standing here in front of the future, Chance the Rapper, 2 Chainz. Like, bro, we are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art, and I just hope you have a good time. Play that.
Correction, Aug. 28, 2016: This article originally misspelled Ray J’s name.