Kanye West speaks onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2015.
Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic/Getty Images
By Nolan Feeney
September 2, 2015

Kanye West’s show-stealing speech during Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards almost didn’t happen.

The outgoing executive producer of the VMAs, Van Toffler, told Billboard that Kanye West was originally going to perform a medley of songs but changed his mind about three different times, including in the middle of the show. “We decided to be open to whatever Kanye wanted because he’s given us so many moments—unexpected ones,” Toffler said. “So we weren’t sure whether he would break into song or not.”

Instead of performing, West ultimately delivered an 11-minute monologue in which he accused MTV of exploiting his infamous Taylor Swift interruption for ratings and announced (jokingly, we think) that he’ll run for president in 2020. Here’s what almost happened:

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.

…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. Even Taylor Swift.


Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.


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