In recent years, Kanye has pulled out all the stops at the VMAs, from infamous interruptions to declarations of presidential ambitions. Tonight at Madison Square Garden, he had four minutes of scheduled time, and didn’t waste a second.
In addressing the crowd, Kanye introduced his new video for “Fade”, featuring Teyana Taylor, touched on his controversial “Famous” video, referenced Taylor Swift, and shouted out Kim Kardashian West, Beyonce, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and others.
It was the best TED Talk ever. Read a partial transcript of his speech via Esquire below, or just watch the video.
“I came here to present my new video, but before I do that, I’m gonna 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, 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 put Ray J in there, bro! This is fame, bro! Like—I see you, Amber. My wife is a G, not many people’s wives would 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, ‘yeah, that’s right, Taylor this, Taylor that.’ Bro, I love all y’all. That’s why I called her.
I was speaking at the Art Institute last year, and one kid came up to me and said, ‘Three of my friends died, and I don’t know if I’m going to be the next.’ You know if you’re a senior and it’s your last month and you don’t feel like doing any more work? If you’re seeing people die next to you, life might start to feel worthless in a way. I sit down and talk to older, rich people, a.k.a. “white,” you know, and they tell me, ‘Don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs, don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney.’ My friend told me, ‘There are 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. Less than 10 I can name in history. Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West.
Tonight, we’re 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, Jaden Smith. We are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art, and I hope you just have a good time.”