Viewers weren’t the ones surprised by Kanye West’s Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech at the recently aired VMAs. Executive producer Van Toffler admitted to Billboard yesterday that the network was on stand by, thinking that he would perform. The rapper apparently couldn’t decide if he wanted to perform or just give a speech. He was originally prepared to do a medley of songs, and then decided to just do the speech. Once the show began producers got word that he was going to perform like originally planned. Only just before the actual segment did the segment’s producer learn that he might do the speech that he ended up doing. “We had to be prepared for both, so we had a track cued up,” Toffler said.
“I think part of the magic and the unpredictability of the VMAs is that probably no other producers in TV would go into a show not knowing what their biggest award winner was going to do. We decided to be open to whatever Kanye wanted because he’s given us so many moments—unexpected ones. So we weren’t sure whether he would break into song or not. We had a track—he would have rapped to his biggest hits.”
We all now know that that performance is something he didn’t do. The speech he did do came as a surprise to both MTV and Kanye’s own team.