Kanye West’s VMA’s Speech & the Creative Industry


Kanye West’s acceptance speech at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards involved:

  • Taylor Swift and talk of the infamous “Imma let you finish, but…” Incident
  • Rambling, rambling and more rambling
  • “Bro”
  • IDEAS!
  • ‘Ye for President?

It’s highly probable that you labeled Kanye’s speech as nonsense or ludicrous. While I agree that Kanye was in his usual rant mode, I think people working in the creative industry may be able to glean a few things from his speech. I know, I know. This might be a stretch, but! Bear with me as I give you my take on Yeezy’s “acceptance speech” and how it relates to the creative industry.

Use true, authentic artistic expression.

“It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth.”

Kanye identifies with the millennial generation and pushes them to manifest their work through raw emotions, which I believe is the truth he referred to. As someone who works in an industry filled with the need for creativity-on-demand, I believe you need to use your feelings, thoughts and emotions to fuel what helps you express and create. Be your own person with your own ideas. If anything, Kanye is passionate.

Artistic expression should be respected, not judged.

“I don’t understand how they get five people who worked their entire life … sold records, sold concert tickets… to come stand on the carpet and for the first time in life be judged, [put] on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser!”

While I quoted this as best as I could through his stream of rambling, I imagine Kanye meant that by calling some artists winners, it eludes that the others are losers. Art (music, design, photography, writing, etc.) shouldn’t be placed in such a rigid category. In the creative world, we don’t create to win an award or be named number one. We create for the purpose of expression. Or from our industrial viewpoint, to get the message across in the most efficient way possible.

‘Ye for President.

Kanye then closed his bit by announcing his intent to run for president in true Kanye West fashion. This leads me to my final takeaway – always go out with a bang. There’s much to be said about “going big or going home.” In our industry, we take a lot of risks and we move a lot of needles because of said risks. Going out with a bang is important, and means we leave everything on the table.

While Kanye didn’t shake the Earth with his speech, there are several points to be made.

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