2015 MTV Video Music Awards - Roaming Show

Source: Christopher Polk/MTV1415 / Getty

Kanye West scored the Video Vanguard Award at this year’s MTV VMAs, and usually when that happens, the artist performs, too. Except, Kanye only performed a 12-minute speech. What happened?

MTV says the famed rapper-producer-egomaniac was all set to perform a medley of songs, but he changed his mind several times, including during the show. In an interview with Billboard, the show’s producer, Van Toffler said it was the first time – in true Kanye fashion – that an artist switched up his entire routine while the show was going on. But considering Kanye is such a polarizing and enigmatic person, producers let him do his thing. He did, after all, give MTV one of the most amazing quotables of our time, right on the VMA stage.

From Billboard:

We originally thought Kanye was going to do a medley. Then we thought he was going to not do music and talk. Then, about two acts into the show, we thought he would do a couple-song medley. This is after the show started. Then, about an act before, we found out that he might not do music and just speak — but we had to be prepared for both, so we had a track cued up. We were in the truck and we heard this 10 minutes before he was to accept the award.

Is that the latest someone’s thrown you a mid-show change-up?

It’s never happened that way before. But I think part of the magic and the unpredictability of the VMAs is that probably no other producers in TV would go into a show not knowing what their biggest award winner was going to do. We decided to be open to whatever Kanye wanted because he’s given us so many moments — unexpected ones. So we weren’t sure whether he would break into song or not. We had a track — he would have rapped to his biggest hits.

The track was ready, the speech was ready, and he just went on?

I’m not sure the speech was ready! He didn’t rehearse. I saw him on the red carpet beforehand, but he didn’t tell me what direction he was going to go in. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Someone from his camp was with us in the truck and he was surprised too. Nobody knew what he was going to do — or announce that he was going to run for president. We were all surprised.

We can only imagine what his performance would have been like— we know it would have been epic.

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