The VMAs are upon us–once again, music’s elite will flock to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CA to bring us what may typically be described as the ‘most unpredictable event of the year.’ The VMAs traditionally bring us some of music’s most shocking moments: Madonna and Britney Spears’ kiss on stage in 2003; Eminem’s 2000 performance of ‘The Real Slim Shady’ with way too many Slim Shadys; Lady Gaga’s ‘Meat Dress’ of 2010 (although I will forever love her for her 2009 performance of ‘Paparazzi’ when she started bleeding on the stage from her stomach.). But let’s not forget the most popular of controversial VMA actions: the interruptions; and our reigning King of Interruptions: Kanye West.
2009 was the year Kanye infamously interrupted Taylor Swift during her VMA acceptance, telling her Beyonce’s video deserved the coveted award, sending Swift into silence as she tried to collect herself. (Beyonce would later bring Swift back up onstage to stare the spotlight, as only Beyonce could do.) Since then, Kanye’s reputation seems to struggle to shake that moment from the public’s eye, despite his achievements over the last six years and the forgiveness Tay Tay so graciously gave him this year.
With the VMAs only days away now, Kanye has already nabbed the spotlight, but this time for a different reason–he’s accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. What is the MJVVA, you ask? Well, it’s essentially a Lifetime Achievement Award for artists who have contributed significantly to the MTV culture. Prior to its renaming in 1991, the Video Vanguard Award was given to artists including The Beatles, David Bowie, Madonna, The Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, and most recently, Beyonce, who accepted the award following a 16-minute performance from her 2014 self-titled album.
Which bring us to our next question: Why Kanye?
Beyond the outspoken, hot headed, self-aggrandizing Kanye we’ve come to know and love, there’s no denying that as an artist, he’s revolutionary. His 40-minute film to accompany Runaway comes to mind as a modern take on the extended music video, while some of his other noteworthy works include “All Falls Down” and “All of the Lights.” Rolling Stone reports that West has received nominations for 30 VMAs, winning two–one in 2005 for Best Male Video and another in 2008 for Best Special Effects. And who can forget his 2008 performance of ‘Love Lockdown.’
So really, the question should be, why not Kanye? The man’s career has shaped much of modern music–he’s produced some of the most iconic songs of the 21st century, collaborated with the industries finest (his most recent album has Paul McCartney in the credits), and isn’t afraid to use his music to talk about bigger issues (2005’s ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone,’ for example, shed light on the diamond conflict in West Africa).
Yes, Kanye might not be everyone’s favorite person, but there’s no denying it, the man has achieved so much in the world of music. He deserves that recognition. I’m personally very excited to see what he does prior to his acceptance–maybe a best of set? Or a new song? Maybe he’ll surprise drop his new album that we’ve anxiously waited for. Or maybe he’ll just stir the pot in the most recent Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud. We’ll find out this Sunday.