At the MTV Video Music Awards last night, Kanye West was given six minutes to himself on stage. Despite a history of erratic behaviour at the event (including bum-rushing Taylor Swift and declaring a 2020 presidential run), the Life Of Pablo rapper was given free reign by the show’s producers. This led to – as you could have guessed – a tangential and bizarre speech, as well as the video premiere of his latest single, “Fade”.
The Flashdance-esque clip, which is now exclusively available to stream on Tidal, stars singer and dancer Teyana Taylor. Beginning with provocative shots of her dancing in a gym, it then follows her into the shower, where she is joined by her real-life husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. The steamy video then ends on a surreal note, with Taylor growing a lion’s face and tail.
West introduced “Fade” with a lengthy speech, in which he discussed his previous video for “Famous”, as well as his respect for other artists in the industry. “It was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV,” he said of the controversial clip, which was released earlier this year. “The audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, I put Ray J in there, bro. This is fame, bro... We came over in the same boat, now we're all in the same bed. Maybe different boats.”
The rapper also took the opportunity to mention the growing, racially-motivated violence in Chicago. “Last week, it was 22 people murdered in Chicago,” he said. “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'll be the next.' You know like when you're a senior and it's the last month and you just don't feel like doing any more work? If you feel like you're seeing people dying next to you, you might feel like ‘what's the point?’ Life can start to feel worthless.”
“Tonight we're here to have fun,” he continued, addressing the crowd. “We are undeniably the influence – the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art. And I just hope you all have a good time.”