Kanye West hit Brooklyn’s Barclays Center today (August 25) to perform “Blood On The Leaves” a cut from his latest effort, Yeezus, at MTV’s Video Music Awards. With this performance, West tied Madonna for most VMA performances of all time.

Def Jam Records press releases this month had indicated that West would perform another Yeezus cut, “Black Skinhead.” Instead, the superstar chose the song which samples Nina Simone’s 1965 version of “Strange Fruit,” and interpolates C-Murder’s “Down 4 My Niggaz,” which featured Magic and Snoop Dogg.

The performance, embedded after being captured by DDotOmen.com, began and closed with West singing into the microphone. During much of the song, a silhouette of West was projected against an image of the forest.

West’s first VMA performance was in 2004 when he performed “Jesus Walks,” “All Falls Down” and “Through the Wire” from his debut album, College Dropout. In 2005, he returned to perform “Gold Digger.” In 2007, West hit the VMA stage with “Stronger” and “Good Life.” Kanye closed the show in 2008, with “Love Lockdown.” In 2010, he performed “Runaway” and in 2011, he and Jay Z performed their Watch The Throne single, “Otis.” 

One of West’s most talked-about appearances at an MTV award show took place in 2009 when he interrupted Taylor Swift on stage. He recently spoke about his regrets regarding the incident during an interview on “Kris.”

“The last thing I would want to happen to my daughter is some crazy, drunk, Black guy in a leather shirt to come up and cut her off at an awards show,” West said. “That’s the last thing I’d want…I was just a crazy Rock star.” 

Additional Reporting by Jake Paine

UPDATE: Kanye West has provided more information regarding the photograph used as a backdrop for his “Blood on the Leaves” performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. The Chicago rapper tweeted about the image.

The link also features this text, explaining the significance of the photograph.

The image is one of Steve McQueen’s latest projects. Schaulager, which is currently featuring an exhibit of McQueen’s work, described the still. 

“Steve McQueen’s most recent work, ‘Lynching Tree’ (2013), created especially for the exhibition in Basel, pictures a site that testifies to an odious past,” Schaulager says. “It shows a tree near New Orleans that once served as a gallows for slaves. The ground around the tree is filled with the graves of the lynched victims. This work is related to the artist’s latest film production, ‘Twelve Years a Slave,’ scheduled for release in movie theaters this fall.” 

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