Throughout his career, Kanye West has been known as one of the most outspoken figures in hip-hop. His strong convictions have led to numerous rants and speeches and lots of memorable moments both famous and infamous. He’s fought for creative freedom and artistic integrity and in doing so he’s left us with some unforgettable quotes.
Today marks the six year anniversary of the day Kanye uttered one of his most celebrated quotes, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” As much as we love that rant, we can’t help but wonder whether or not it’s his best. To find out, we put together The 10 Best Kanye West Rants. So you better read this post before you start to lose credibility.
#10. SMACK DVD
Date: August 2007
Best line: “I’m not gangster, but I’m not gay either. Don’t disrespect me as a fucking man.”
Complex says: By the time 2007 rolled around, the glory days of Roc-A-Fella had long passed. Still, it was surprising when Beanie Sigel took shots at Kanye in an interview criticizing the way he dressed and accusing him of being gay.
With Kanye having ushered in a style change in hip-hop from oversized t-shirts and jerseys to high-end polo shirts and fitted clothing, Beans only added fuel to the fire that was critics attacking his sexuality. In this SMACK DVD interview, Kanye vents about how he felt disrespected.
He maintained that, although he’s not gay, portraying a tough-guy image would only lead to more problems. Yeezy was demanding his respect as a man, and was doing so by staying true to himself. This is what always made ‘Ye great: He was always different but he was willing to fight for what he believed in.
#9. Milwaukee Summerfest 2011
Date: June 2011
Best line: “They won’t let real artists be artists. They want some commercialized yes-men sitting in their motherfucking seat letting the bullshit go down year after year after year.”
Complex says: One of the only speed-bumps Kanye experienced following the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was the reception of the music video for “Monster.” Where Kanye deemed it artistic, MTV banned the video for having naked women appear to be dead.
Debate centered around whether the video was artistic or blatantly misogynistic. Kanye took time at Milwaukee’s Summerfest to defend his artistic expression and he thanked any fan who ever defended him.
More often than not, and in this particular instance, Kanye defends the right to create and interpret art and condemns the judging of its message and/or bashing of it’s maker in disagreement. As usual, Kanye was letting out his frustration.
#8. Kanye Walks Off Canadian Radio Station
Best line: “Yo stop it man! I'm talking man!”
Complex says: While at a Canadian radio station promoting Late Registration, Kanye decided to get something off his chest. He had noticed that radio stations had been censoring the word "white girl" out of his hit song, "Gold Digger," which to him (and to us) made little sense.
He tried to explain his feelings but the radio DJ kept interrupting and even bizarrely tried to convince Kanye to bust out a freestyle when he obviously wasn't in the mood for one. After the DJ interrupted Kanye for about the eight time in a row, 'Ye flipped out before walking about of the radio station. This is exactly why at his studio in Hawaii, Kanye had a sign that read, "Just shut the fuck up sometimes."
#7. Defending Himself As A Rapper
Best line: “My beats was wack at one point, dog...I learned how to make hot beats. I’m focusing on rhyming now and I’m going to be the fucking best.”
Complex says: Early in his career, Kanye struggled to prove that he was a great producer as well as a great rapper. In this rant he stresses the fact that his dedication and hunger to learn is what made him a great producer, and applying that same work ethic to rapping would yield the same results.
At the time, this video just sounded like chest-pounding. In retrospect, Kanye’s predictions of a being the best rapper and having number one albums were spot-on. Watching the video today, it’s a reminder of two things. One, never ever doubt Kanye because if he said that shit he meant that shit. And two, no one wakes up and is successful—it takes hard work and dedication.
#6. Big Chill Music Festival
Date: August 2011
Best line: “Once again I wake up, and I’m a monster. I walk through the hotel, or I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m fucking insane—like I’m Hitler.”
Complex says: Once again discussing the fallout from his “Monster” music video, Kanye explained that he was inspired by the work of Helmut Newton. Before talking about being both lonely and tired but still unwilling to be phony or fake, 'Ye defended his art by saying that being a rapper worked against him because people didn’t believe he would have the artistic sensibilities to create such a work without misogynistic motives. He might sound paranoid but we couldn't help but agree with Yeezy. We always wondered if the criticism against him was because he was genuinely wrong (which he rarely was) or if some people just didn't like the idea of a black rapper being as outspoken as he was.
#5. Bowery Ballroom
Date: November 2010
Best line: “If I wasn’t drunk, I would have been on stage longer like, ‘Am I the only one that’s not crazy here? Are you fucking kidding me?’”
Complex says: During the night My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy came out, Kanye hit the stage at the Bowery Ballroom. At that point, his album had received perfect scores from music publications such as Pitchfork and Rolling Stone and was on its way to selling 496,000 copies it’s first week.
Kanye gave a triumphant speech at New York’s Bowery Ballroom as he touched on his portrayal in the media and the pain he endured in the fallout of the VMA’s incident. Proud of himself for getting through the lowest point in his career, Kanye elaborated on how it feels to be villainized.
He admitted to being flawed but maintained that we are all flawed. His gripes were with those who judge and criticize others. He pushed for creative independence. This time he wasn’t defending himself, but celebrating his rise from the depths of fame and inviting us all to celebrate it with him.
Kanye West's MTV Tirade
Get More: Kanye West's MTV Tirade
#4. MTV Europe Music Awards
Date: November 2006
Best line: “If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.”
Complex says: More than just a rapper or musician, Kanye has always fancied himself a complete artist. Throughout his career he’s taken great pride in his attention to detail, particularly when it comes to his music videos.
When his video for “Touch The Sky” lost to Justice vs. Simeon’s “We Are Your Friends,” Yeezy crashed the stage and made his argument as to why his video should have won. Obviously a little tipsy off that “sippy sippy,” he cited the fact that it cost a million dollars to make and that Pamela Anderson made a cameo.
Justice vs. Simeon seemed to be good sports about it, and the rapper made sure they realized it was nothing personal by saying, “It’s nothing against you. I’ve never seen your video.” Still, Kanye felt he deserved that hardware and wasn’t going to lose quietly. The thing about this rant was (as great as it was) it probably gave Yeezy the impression he could run up on stage at MTV award shows, something that would backfire on him later.
#3. 47th Grammy Awards
Date: February 2005
Best line: “Everybody wanted to know what I would do if I didn’t win...I guess, we’ll never know.”
Complex says: When a near-fatal car accident in October of 2002 forced Kanye to re-examine his life, he bounced back better than ever and began his ascent to the top of the rap game. When he won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2005, he took the time to reflect on how the accident had changed the way he approached making music.
Kanye gave an emotional, heartfelt speech in acceptance and it was one of his most gracious moments. After being snubbed at previous award shows, Kanye already had a reputation for wilding out backstage when he didn't win (something he later touched on in "Diamonds fom Sierra Leone") but his closing statement—an instant quoteable that earned him a standing ovation—summed up his feelings nicely. Grammy night? Damn right we got dressed up.
#2. MTV Video Music Awards
Date: September 2009
Best line: “Yo, Taylor I’m really happy for you. I’m going to let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.”
Complex says: During Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for winning the award for Best Female Video, Kanye interrupted her by running on-stage, grabbing the mic, and voicing his opinion that Beyonce should have won instead for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” Although it sparked one of our favorite Internet memes ever, it wasn’t all good.
The public backlash against Kanye (especially on Twitter) was severe. Even President Obama called Kanye a “jackass.” The day after the show, Kanye appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to discuss his feelings on what had transpired during the awards. Having lost his mother to surgery complications in late 2007 and subsequently releasing the most emotional album of his career the following year, he was speechless when Leno unexpectedly asked what his mother would think of his actions.
The incident and the aftermath have all been talked to death but there’s one thing that always bothered us. At the end of the VMAs, Beyonce won the award for Best Video of the Year (and was gracious enough to let Taylor appear on stage once again). But if Taylor had the Best Female Video, how could Beyonce have the best overall video? Shouldn’t Beyonce have won Best Female Video as well?
#1. NBC’s A Concert For Hurricane Relief
Date: September 2005
Best line: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Complex says: In the aftermath of the devastation cause by Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration was harshly criticized for its slow response time by citizens and media outlets across the nation. However, just three days after the hurricane had dissipated, Kanye West would deliver George Bush’s most scathing and memorable criticism.
Many suspected that the large population of blacks in the Gulf Coast—specifically in New Orleans—played a role in the Bush administration’s lack of urgency. That’s why we got out of our seat and applauded during NBC’s Concert For Hurricane Relief when Kanye claimed, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Last year, Bush claimed that when Kanye made his comments about him it was, “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency,” and denied being a racist. On the one hand, one of Bush’s signature policies was quietly tripling aid to Africa so maybe he doesn’t hate black people. On the other hand, Bush was president through 9/11 and two pointless wars, but when a rapper dissed him it was his low-point? [Mike Myers blank stare.]
Although Kanye did seem remorseful about his comments when he reflected on them last year, it doesn’t really matter. When College Dropout debuted at #1 and sold a gang of records, Kanye became a rap star. But when he made his Bush comment, he became a super-star whose willingness to make bold statements catapulted him into the public conscious. That’s why it is undoubtedly his greatest rant.
This list is missing his Twitter rants, tbh.