Kanye West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 VMAs has been etched as one of the defining pop-culture moments of the 21st century.
Before becoming two of the most famous musicians on the planet, the controversial VMAs moment served as Ye’s pivot from hero to most hated as he was shunned into exile for the better part of a year.
Rolling Stoneput together a list and dubbed Kanye’s polarizing intrusion the sixth worst decision in music history.
“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you,” he said before being thrown out of the venue. “I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!”
Swift was accepting her award for Best Video by a Female Artist for “You Belong to Me,” but Kanye had other plans as he believed Beyoncé had been robbed for her “Single Ladies” visual.
Per Billboard, Kanye was seen swigging from and passing around a bottle of Hennessy throughout the August 2009 night as he attended the award show with his girlfriend at the time, Amber Rose.
Following the public excoriation, West fled the continental U.S. for the serenity of Hawaii, which led to him crafting his magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010.
“After the infamous Taylor Swift moment, I sort of did a little self-exile, just to get away from paparazzi and to have people not, you know, just f—ing with me constantly. I went to Hawaii and took all the creative energy that I wanted to express and we put it into an album called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” he recalled at a footwear event in 2020.
“We’d visit Stockholm on the weekends. That was in my single days. It was fun. It wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t as miserable experience as some might think. My exile was pretty fun and stuff: ‘What does Kanye do when he pissed every person off on the planet?’ He goes Stockholm and dances.”
Other Hip Hop moments making RS‘s list include Ja Rule investing in the disastrous Fyre Festival (No. 8), Suge Knight addressing the crowd at the 1995 Source Awards (No. 20) and MC Hammer’s gangsta pivot in the mid-90s (No. 23).