“This stage will be gone. After that night, the stage is gone, but the effect that it had on people remains.” – Kanye West
Deviate your attention from the lack of clothing Miley Cyrus was wearing. Seriously, it’s not that hard. While receiving the Video Vanguard award, Kanye West declared that he was running for President in 2020. Yes, the meme machine was in full effect, but you may have missed some key points in the impromptu speech. See, the issue with West is when he’s well within thought, sometimes he had trouble articulating his points. It’s actually common with creative people. Within this TED Talk, allow me to be the Babel Fish translation of what I think Kanye was trying to say. If you have really been paying attention, he’s actually said pieces of this speech multiple times – but I know, it’s Kanye. You give him applause and you’re automatically fitted and tailored with a scarlet letter or gawked at like you came from an alien planet. When you focus on the person who is saying things and not the things actually being said, you will miss a lot of wisdom that way.
“The art ain’t always going to be polite”
Take a look at the actual presentation of the award. It quickly became Kanye winning the MTV’s prestigious video award to Taylor Swift presenting Kanye the award. Now, perhaps Mr. West brought a bit of this on himself with a little henny in the system and a “swift” grab of the mic. Look at it this way: in 2009, Swift released Fearless which started the incline of her success, but not the mega-conglomerate, Voltron machine she is now. At that moment, one became the heroine and the villain. Perhaps we have the roles we had are vice versa. I’m not saying that Taylor Swift is a villain, clearly by the “Bad Blood” video, she’s an ass-kicking femme fatale and also fought for artists rights in her own respect (See Apple Music). Ironically, Swift won the video of the year award with a song bashing another pop star. Drives me up a wall that this gets overlooked. West’s diatribe came from a place to fight for the art and this has been a major talking point for him for many months. Years even. It wouldn’t really be enough to not show up to the VMAs, sometimes you have to make your stand when it’s not the most convenient for people. Rebellions are really never convenient.
The funny argument that I hear with Kanye West is that he doesn’t know the regular struggle. “What does he know? He has millions of dollars”. It’s either people who don’t know of his humble beginnings in Chicago or that it doesn’t matter who is giving the message. Perhaps it’s not conductive to turn the volume down on people because of their stature. Especially from one who has continually disregarded such status to empower others.
“We goin teach our kids to believe in themselves. I don’t know what I’m about to lose after this. It don’t matter though, cause it’s ain’t about me, it’s about ideas bro”.
Do we even watch award shows anymore for the awards? For the actual artistry? We take to our respective social networks and salivate in making our own stand up comedy routines. The MTV awards has become a moving, vibrating tabloid on a network constantly trying to beat the shadow of it’s former self. It shows the lack of structure that many of the gate keepers of music have on the pulse of music. Tori Kelly gave an amazing performance, but one of the headlines from the show was “Kanye West Admits To Smoking Weed”.
These award shows are our Homecoming court. Did you really vote for people because how smart they were? I despise how music has become a look test instead of a hearing test. It’s a culture where most likely, if you don’t have the right look, you aren’t going to get a VMA. Anybody notice how many rock bands were in the house? None. The man that is telling you to believe in yourself is vilified? Confidence is frowned upon? With the changes in the music industry where the art is being divided into a pizza pie and slices are being taken from each hand – some essential, some to waste the food, perhaps we should elevate those who fight for it. I hate to break it to you, you most likely won’t be able to be able to break in Taylor Swift’s clique, but you can stand along side Kanye. Better yet, he’s trying to get you to stand alone to champion your cause and fight for your art…bro.
Written by M.J. Rawls – Follow M.J. on Twitter