By Eliza Berman
August 25, 2015

When Kanye West takes the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 30, it will be because — unlike that infamous incident six years ago — he was invited up there. At Sunday’s award ceremony, West will be honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, honoring his contributions to the art of the music video.

In winning the award, West joins a long list of music greats, from David Bowie and Madonna to the Beastie Boys and Justin Timberlake. His approach to music videos — from the animated short for “Heartless” to a motorcycle love session with wife Kim Kardashian for “Bound 2” — have certainly treated the music video as an art form with the potential to enhance fans’ experience of his music, rather than an obligatory promotional exercise.

As for what to expect when West takes the stage, we might look to last year’s recipient, Beyoncé, who performed a medley so long it’s better categorized as a mini-concert, then followed it up with a heartfelt speech alongside Jay-Z and their daughter Blue Ivy. But it would be foolish to expect a cookie-cutter repeat by this year’s winner — Kanye is nothing if not unpredictable.

 

Write to Eliza Berman at eliza.berman@time.com.

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