A toast to Kanye West

September 16, 2010 — by Vijay Menon

When Kanye West walked out of Radio City Music Hall following the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he was one of the most hated public figures in America. As the curtains closed on the Nokia Theater capping the 2010 VMA’s, the rapper walked off the stage to the admiring and raucous chants of “Kanye, Kanye!”

What a difference a year makes. Or even a day.

The 2010 VMA’s were notable for a lot of reasons, but mostly for round two of the Taylor Swift-Kanye West faceoff. For those unfamiliar with last year’s proceedings, it occurred as follows: Kanye famously stormed on stage while Swift was accepting her award, taking the mic and shouting, “Yo Taylor, Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”

This year, Swift delivered the initial blow. She performed her brand new single “Innocent,” which took a shot at West for last year’s incident. The performance began with a flashback to the event from the previous year on the video screen behind Swift. She then sang, “Who you are is not what you did…you’re still an innocent.”

Swift’s performance seemed to be in poor taste, taking a bit of a cheap shot at the defenseless West. While cleverly disguised as entertainment, Swift’s song came across as condescending and nothing more than a savvy insult delivered against the rapper. Her anger was understandable given the nature of last year’s events but seemed unnecessary and, to some degree, even petty. Ultimately, it was Kanye who would get the last word as he took the mic to close out the show performing his new single, “Runaway.”

Dressed in a red suit and standing alone on a large island at the center of the stage, West delivered an emotional apology to Swift in a largely self-deprecating performance that brought the audience to its feet by its end.

Kanye admitted to his faults, saying that we’ve all been “putting up” with his antics way too long. His chorus included a toast for the “douche bags, scum bags, and jerk offs” (along with other unprintables), a group in which he presumably includes himself following the aftermath of last year’s incident.

Contrasting the two performances, it’s not too difficult to see why Kanye walked off the stage the big winner of the 2010 VMA’s. Meanwhile, Swift ironically seems to have lost the very “innocence” that garnered her sympathy in 2009.

Let’s have a toast to Mr. West. Kanye is back.

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