2009 MTV Video Music Awards
With his controversial comments, the 32-year-old rapper Kanye West continues to make a name for himself. "I'll always push the envelope, try to get a rise out of people, and try to entertain them too," West once told Time Out London magazine.
The rapper's latest outburst occurred during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when he stormed onstage as country singer Taylor Swift accepted her Best Female Video award.
West took the mic from 17-year-old Swift, shouting, "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'll let you finish, but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!"
He then shrugged and walked offstage, leaving a stunned Beyonce, a booing audience and a speechless and visibly emotional Swift on stage.
Web sites like Twitter and Facebook blazed with reactions to the incident. The rapper was reportedly escorted out of the awards show with girlfriend Amber Rose. West apologized to Swift on his blog later that night, writing, "I'm not crazy ya'll. I'm just real. Sorry for that!!!!"
Late Monday he took to his blog again to compare the incident to the movie "Meet the Parents." "I feel like Ben Stiller in "Meet the Parents" when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave," Kanye wrote. "That was Taylor's moment and I had no right in any way to take it from her. I am truly sorry."
2007 MTV Music Awards
Kanye West has a history of outbursts at the MTV Music Awards. In 2007, the rapper declared that he would "never return to MTV" after Britney Spears was chosen to open the show instead of him. West performed his single "Stronger" in a suite at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas for the show, rather than on the main stage like Spears.
At a pre-VMA private performance, West said during a song, "I can't believe she [Britney Spears] would perform. She hasn't had a hit record in years."
He did not win any awards in the five categories to which he was nominated. He went on a tirade backstage, saying, "That's two years in a row, man … give a black man a chance. I'm trying hard man, I have the … number one record, man."
He went on a radio station in New York City after the show, saying, "I wasn't mad that I just didn't win any awards. For me, [MTV] made it seem like performing on the main stage was a bad thing, and the suites were just so great. It was my dream when I made 'Stronger' to open up the VMAs with a real power performance."
2006 MTV Europe Music Awards
West's run-in with Taylor Swift was not the rapper's first time interrupting another artist's acceptance speech. At the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, West got on stage after his video "Touch the Sky" lost to Justice and Simian's video "We Are Your Friends."
In a speech full of expletives, West took the mic from the duo and exclaimed that his video should have won because it "cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it. … I was jumping across canyons. … If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility."
Later that night, West claimed that the incident was due to him drinking before the show. "I had a little sippy sippy," he told MTV U.K. He added that, after the show, he planned to do "a little more sippy sippy."
The rapper responded to criticism about the incident, saying, "People were so surprised at what I did. … I'm more surprised people thought I had changed." That same year, Kanye appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
2005 Hurricane Katrina Telathon
If the world didn't know who Kanye West was before, they certainly did after his infamous outburst during a Red Cross-sponsored telethon to raise money for Hurricane Katrina survivors Sept. 3, 2005, on NBC.
Appearing in front of the camera with actor Mike Meyers, West ignored the teleprompter and said, "Red cross is doing as much as they can. We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way. And now they've given them permission to go down and shoot us. George Bush doesn't care about black people." Myers stood frozen, and then the camera cut off.
NBC released a statement about the incident, saying, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."
West revisited the incident in a 2007 interview with ABC News' "Nightline." He said that the aftermath of his statement "changed his life for the better. I think people understood me a little more. They understood, like, this guy is like…has a little baby Tourettes … maybe not quite diagnosed, but the truth just comes out like accidentally."
2004 American Music Awards
Not one to easily accept losing, one of West's most famous tirades came during the 2004 American Music Awards, when the opinionated rapper left the show after losing the Best New Artist Category to country singer Gretchen Wilson.
He told reporters backstage, "I felt like I was definitely robbed, and I refused to give any politically correct bullsh--ass comment. ... I was the Best New Artist this year." West later apologized to Wilson, saying, " I was raised better than that. It was very ignorant."
Months after the incident, West was nominated for 10 Grammy nominations. He won three awards, including Best Rap Album for "The College Dropout." Before the Grammy nominations were announced the following year, West warned people, "I said I was the face of the Grammys last year. I'm 10 times that [this year]. Get your cameras ready. Two things: Do not let me get up on that stage and do not let me get up on that stage. Either way, we going crazy!"