A contrite and visibly chastened
West sat with Leno on his couch before his scheduled musical appearance with Jay-Z and Rihanna to perform "Run This Town." The rapper's apology was unplanned, Leno noted.
Kanye was measured with his words as he admitted that the pain from his mother's death still haunts him. West revealed to Leno that he plans to take some time from the spotlight to continue to cope with the matter. When Leno mentioned that he'd met Kanye's mother, Donda West, and asked what she would have thought about the VMA stunt, the rapper sat silent for more than 20 seconds as he attempted to compose himself.
"Obviously, I deal with hurt, and so many celebrities, they never take the time off, and I never took the time off, really," West explained. "I've really never taken the time off. It's been music after music and tour after tour. And I'm just ashamed my hurt caused someone else hurt."
Leno said West asked to speak prior to the Jay-Z-led performance and thanked the superstar for honoring the commitment to perform.
West said the past 24 hours had been extremely difficult for him. He said he immediately knew his behavior was inappropriate and apologized for stepping on Swift's emotion, as the young starlet was jittery onstage celebrating her big VMA win.
"It was just very rude, period," West said. "I'd like to apologize to her in person."
West posted an apology to Swift on his blog the night of the Video Music Awards. The apology was later removed, but on Monday night, he issued a second mea culpa. "I feel like Ben Stiller in 'Meet the Parents' when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave," West wrote.
Leno tried to lighten the mood at times, asking West when he knew his protest crossed the line. "As soon as I gave the mic back to her and she didn't keep going," he said to a small laugh from the audience.
West, however, was anything but humorous throughout his three minutes with Leno. He teared up when the talk-show host brought up his late mother, whom he lost in November 2007 due to complications following cosmetic surgery. The rapper addressed his broken engagement and mother's passing in his last album, 808s & Heartbreak, but he's attempted to deal with his emotions onstage rather than behind closed doors.
Now, he appears to be ready to confront some buried pains in private. "I have to analyze how I'm gonna make it through the rest of this life and improve," he said.