Heard Him Say! A Timeline Of Kanye West’s Public Outbursts

We take a look back at some of the rapper's finest tantrums, threats and public acts of petulance.

If he hasn’t already, Kanye West should really win something for his “That’s two years in a row!” tirade backstage at at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. How about Best Meltdown While Wearing a Tuxedo? Or maybe Most Unnecessary Outburst During an Awards Telecast?

Perhaps that’s thinking too small. At this point, Kanye has sort of become the Dominique Wilkins of award-show temper tantrums — he’s the human highlight reel of really unwarranted tirades. From preshow threats and mid-show walkouts to post-show tirades and backstage blustering, West has done it all … and with a résumé as strong as his, he’s probably in line for a lifetime achievement award of sorts.

(See what you, the readers, had to say about Kanye West being crowned chart champ over 50 Cent, in You Tell Us.)

So even though he reportedly told anyone who would listen that he would “never return to MTV” during his VMA rant, we figured that we’d still go ahead and recognize West for the true pioneer he is. After all, can you name another artist who’s lost the plot so many times — in so many creative ways — for no good reason? If you disagree with our selection, please feel free to launch into a childlike, profanity-laced diatribe about it. Of course, before you do that, you might want to check out West’s greatest hits, which we’ve compiled below.

» Date: November 14, 2004
» Event: The 32nd annual American Music Awards
» The Highlight: West Walks When Wilson Wins

Upon hearing he has lost the Best New Artist award to “Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson, West storms out of the AMAs in a show of protest. He later tells reporters, “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.” He also brings up the idea of a massive conspiracy against him, questions the award show’s voting process and promises never to return to the AMAs. A legend is born.

»Date: February 13, 2005
»Event: The 47th annual Grammy Awards
»The Highlight: Kanye Dons Angel Wings, A Heavenly Persecution Complex

Following his behavior at the AMAs, West’s temperament is obviously a major story line for everyone. Everyone except West, that is. Seems he feels he is being unjustly focused on in the weeks leading up to the Grammys. He makes his feelings of persecution known during his awards-show performance, which features his apparent death (damn you, haters) and subsequent resurrection (rising above it all … complete with angel wings), all while a full gospel choir wails and thrusts its arms heavenward. Minutes later, College Dropout is named Best Rap Album, at which point West gives a hyper-cocky speech that climaxes with him proclaiming, “A lot of people were wondering what I was going to do if I didn’t win anything … I guess we’ll never know” (see “Kanye Steals The Show, But Ray Dominates Grammy Winners’ Circle” ).

» Date: December 4, 2005
» Event: A Kanye West Foundation/ Musicland Performance at Santa Monica High School in California
» The Highlight: West Shocks And Awes Grammy Voters With Preemptive Strike

A week before Grammy nominations are even announced, West gives a rambling, impassioned and truly excellent interview to MTV News in which he: a) threatens to have “a real problem” if Late Registration doesn’t win Album of the Year (see “Kanye’s At It Again: ‘If I Don’t Win Album Of The Year I’m Gonna Have A Problem’ “ ); b) predicts that it won’t, primarily because of comments he made about George W. Bush during a Hurricane Katrina telethon; c) rips magazines like The Source and Vibe for not bestowing “classic” status on his albums; d) justifies his behavior by repeatedly stating that he spent $600,000 of his own money producing and promotion Registration; and finally, e) compares himself to Tom Cruise. The next day, The American Journal of Psychiatry begins planning a special “Kanye West: The Best of Egotism” double issue. …

» Date: November 2, 2006
» The Event: The MTV Europe Music Awards
» The Highlight: Kanye Storms The Stage At The EMAs, Does Wonders For U.S. Foreign Relations

After his “Touch the Sky” clip loses to Justice and Simian’s “We Are Your Friends,” West leaps onstage and interrupts the duo’s acceptance speech, arguing that his video deserved to win because it “cost a million dollars and Pamela Anderson was in it.” Backstage, he continues his tirade, telling members of the press that “it’s complete bullsh–. I paid a million … it took a month to film; I stood on a mountain; I flew a helicopter over Vegas. … I did it to be the king of all videos.” (He later admits to having had a “sippy sippy” or two before the outburst: see “Kanye Admits To Having Had A ‘Sippy Sippy’ [Or Two] Before EMA Rant.” ) It is — to this point — his finest tirade, an outburst so succinctly jingoistic and, well, downright American that it’s no wonder the EMA audience booed. George W. Bush, on the other hand, probably did a sweet donut in his Camaro, played a lick of air guitar and was like, “F—in’-A right, Kanye.”

Wait — don’t cash out on the VMAs just yet! From Britney’s sultry comeback performance to the big winners, you saw it all — well, almost everything! Get yourself even richer with our wall-to-wall show coverage, party reports, videos and loads more at www.VMA.MTV.com. For reports, photos, video and much, much more from previous VMAs, dive into the VMA archives.