We could start this article a lot of different ways. Like how — minus a Leno appearance with Jay-Z and Rihanna — this was Kanye West‘s first television appearance since he turned Taylor Swift’s life around for the better (sorry kids, just telling the truth) update: or the BET Awards. Or that, based on his past VMA’s performances (see 2004, 2007, and 2008 for example), it was anyone’s guess what shocking, apocalyptic-like performance the Chicago MC would pull out of his ass this time around. Or, even better, it was anyone’s guess what shocking, apocalyptic-like performance the Chicago MC would pull out of his ass to save this train wreck of an awards show. Then again, it was pretty cool that the break dancing kids from Pitchfork joined Biebs on stage.
Of course, Kanye West never goes by the book, so I guess we should never have expected something shocking or apocalyptic-like. Instead, it was, well, strange and, at times, even too smart for those of us who think we “get” it all. I’ll preface my next few sentences by saying I rarely ever “get” it and have always remained one of the biggest Kanye West apologists on the web.
“Runaway”, the song which West chose to close out the 2010 VMAs, was the climax of a 12-month period which has seen a public meltdown turn into a self-imposed exile turn into glorious explosion of creativity. It also marked the next progression in the journey of a man who has chosen self-depreciation and humility as a means to restore his image. Whereas Taylor Swift’s “pardon” of West earlier that evening felt contrived and overly dramatic, West proved to be the realest thing about the entire evening. I mean, he did apologize to both the world and himself.
“Let’s have a toast for the assholes, let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs, lets a toast for the scumbags… baby I got a plan, runaway as fast as you can,” sang West amidst a smorgasbord of samples, autotune, and a guest appearance from Pusha T. It was an encyclopedia of all things Kanye, a compilation of his skills, persona, and even faults, wrapped into one sincere, showstopping moment of clarity.
If you still hate, you’re just trying too hard.