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In 2009, Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to say that Beyonce deserved the award more than the then 19 year-old singer. Most people chalked the incident up to Kanye’s proclivity for brash, sometimes obnoxious, outbursts. But some identified a racially-tinged undertone to the ordeal, arguing that the thought of a black man making a white woman cry further vilified Kanye West.

The racial significance was not lost on Kanye West. A rant, taped shortly after the incident, leaked via Gawker in which he addresses racism in the industry:

“I’d rather just let the [inaudible] speak for itself. You know, it’s like, I was happy to be in a situation where people couldn’t say, oh, I was trying to promote my own song. For the times that I’ve, like, defended myself… [Tape break] I’m pushing the envelope! I wrote my f*ckin’ ‘Run This Town’ verse for a f*ckin’ month! When I heard Eminem’s verse on the Drake sh*t, I went back and rewrote my sh*t for two days. I canceled appointments to rewrite! I f*ckin’ care! You know what I’m saying? And that’s what I’m saying. Because I did that, Taylor Swift cannot win over Beyoncé! Because I wrote my verse in two days, Taylor Swift cannot beat Beyoncé. As long as I’m alive! And if I’m alive, kill me then! Kill me then! As long as I’m alive, you gon’ have to deal with it. ‘Cause there ain’t gonna be no more motherf*cking Elvises with no James Browns.

[A female voice asks, “Why are you so angry? What’s the anger?”] Because my mother got arrested for the f*ckin’ sit-ins. My mother died for this fame sh*t! I moved to f*ckin’ Hollywood chasing this sh*t. My mother died because of this sh*t. F*ck MTV.

It ain’t no love. What the f*ck was Pink performing? Don’t nobody know that song. Pink performed twice! Two songs? How the f*ck Pink perform two songs and I didn’t even get asked to perform “Heartless.” “Heartless” is the biggest song of the year! It had the most spins of the first quarter! I don’t know that Pink song! But I noticed that she’s pink! They put me in a f*ckin’ room and [inaudible – maybe “projected it”].

[A male voice asks, “How the f*ck did Eminem get the Best Hip-Hop song in 2008?”] Eminem won Best Video! Rap Video! Yo, when he won that sh*t, I was so happy. I was so happy I [unclear – “ran all this sh*t,” maybe]. I said, “N*gga, I’m gon’ do this until y’all put a bullet in my head. I’m runnin’ up to y’all, put a…” [tape cuts].

Watch the full video here.

Though his rant is laced with obscenities and odd connections, few would disagree that there is a bias toward white artists over black artists that becomes most palpable during award shows. What do you think, Clutchettes and Gents: is this another bold but true reflection on racism by Kanye or is he completely off base?

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  • BriA

    Aren’t most of those awards voted by the fans? Soooo Taylor Swift just had more of her fans vote for her than Beyonce – I mean it’s really just as simple as that

  • Carmel F.

    First, I think his argument isn’t very strong as to why he and Beyonce, and other artists are more worthy of an MTV award than others. He is formulating his argument from his own perspective rather than understanding the reasons behind why Taylor Swift received the award. He is jumping to rash conclusions about race, which very may well be the case, but he doesn’t know for sure. He is basing his conclusions on societal racism, which is very much still present, but it can’t necessarily be applied to this particular case.

    But in any case, I think you show character by how you react to a situation. Kanye West doesn’t know how to channel or present his feelings in a way that would produce an effective outcome. He needs to think of the consequences of his actions before executing them. In retrospect, did he get his point across? No. Anger usually isn’t the most effective medium.

    If we are going to have a conversation about racism in the music industry or racism in society, I don’t think the best way to do that would be to rudely interrupt a recipient’s speech. It would be more appropriate to have an interview after the fact to voice your feelings, or write about it, rather than hurting someone who doesn’t deserve to be hurt. I am leaving many other ways where we could have this conversation, but just wanted give some examples.

  • Anonymous 417

    I’m continually amazed — and amused — by black men who want to talk about racism when it comes to money and what they believe they’re entitled to professionally, yet when it comes to making personal choices, white is alright then.

  • i mean

    Oh Kanye

  • Ms. Write

    “I don’t know that Pink song! But I noticed that she’s pink!” *Dead