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Kanye Interrupts, also known as “Imma let you finish,” refers to an on-air mishap that occurred during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. During the speech, Kanye West suddenly went up to the stage and took the microphone from Swift to declare that Beyonce had “one of the best music videos of all time.”
On September 13th, 2009, the 25th annual MTV Video Music Awards ceremony was broadcast live at the Radio City Music Hall. When country singer Taylor Swift won the Best Female Video award for her song “You Belong With Me,” Kanye West came up on stage and took the mic from her to proclaim “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best videos of all time!” before being booed off the stage. He handed the mic back to Swift but MTV cut to commercial before she could continue.
West was reportedly asked to leave the venue immediately after the incident. Later that evening, West wrote an apologetic blog post in all caps on his official website but the post was deleted within hours. Later in the evening, Beyonce won the Video of the Year award for “Single Ladies” (Put a Ring on It) and instead of giving her own acceptance speech, she invited Taylor onstage to finish hers.
September 13th: Response on Twitter
During the event, many celebrities commented on West’s acts on Twitter, including Pink, Katy Perry, Ricky Martin and Dane Cook. The Twitter response was covered on several news sites and gossip blogs that night and the next morning including People Magazine, Oh No They Didn’t!, MTV, New York Daily News, and CNN. Throughout September 14th and 15th, 2009, Kanye West was a top trending topic on Twitter, with 293,024 tweets about the rapper within the hour after the incident.
While the topic was trending, an ABC News reporter Terry Moran tweeted that President Obama had called West a “jackass” for his behavior at the awards ceremony while off the record. Though it was quickly deleted, news of the tweet was shared on Politico and Huffington Post, while TMZ posted the audio of the statement on the 15th.
September 14th: Kanye West’s Official Apology
Though his original blog apology was deleted, many news sites were able to capture it and share it including the Los Angeles Times, MTV, and Spin. The humor site Very Tasteful also turned the post into an autotuned song. On September 14th, West made an appearance on the premiere of Jay Leno’s prime-time talk show. The interview was covered by the Huffington Post, Mashable, Rolling Stone, and MTV. On air, West said he was ashamed of himself, stating that he’d like to apologize to her in person.
The following morning, Taylor Swift appeared on daytime talk show The View, where she stated that West had not done anything to get in contact with her. However, right after her segment Swift reportedly received a phone call from West in which he apologized and she accepted.
Immediately after the broadcast, freelance graphic designer Patrick St. John uploaded a mashup of West’s rant with a speech on healthcare President Barack Obama gave on September 9th, 2009 which was interrupted by Representative Joe Wilson shouting, “You lie!”
The video was later featured on the O’Reilly Factor and in the New York Times. As of May 2012, the Obama mashup has more than 4.7 million views and has sparked nearly 500 other Kanye Interrupts videos.
Shortly after the ceremony, viewers began photoshopping stills of Kanye West into other things and 4-pane dialogues between West and Swift on stage. Furthermore, his hyperbolic rant was turned into a snowclone:
“Yo X, I’m really [adjective] for you and Imma let you finish, but Y is the best Zs of all time. OF ALL TIME.”
By September 14th, Kanye West-related threads appeared on 4chan as well as on gaming forums IGN and Neoseeker. Additionally, a Twitter account KanyeInterrupts was created which tweeted phrases in the snowclone format, the single serving site Is Kanye West A Douchebag? was registered and image macros began appearing on Tumblr with the tag “Imma Let You Finish.” The following day, the single topic blog imaletyoufinish.com was registered. Later that week, two single topic Tumblrs were created: Kanyegate on the 15th with a Yo Dawg related image and Kanye Interrupted two days later using a photo of Mozart.
Between September 15th and 18th, various compilations of these images were featured on Urlesque, Mashable, MTV, and the Daily Mail. Also that week, their popularity was analyzed by tech blog Gigaom. On September 17th, 2009, Imma Let You FInish was chosen as the Urban Dictionary Word of the Day.
2012 BET Awards
Kanye West’s notorious interruption came to a full circle years later at the 12th annual BET Awards ceremony on July 1st, 2012, when rap artists Jay-Z and Kanye West were called on to the stage for the Video of the Year award with their 2011 collaborative album Watch the Throne. Jay-Z expressed his thanks first and then handed over the microphone to Kanye West, shortly before interrupting his speech by saying “Kanye, Imma let you continue, but…”
Jay-Z’s witty jab at West instantly drew a round of laughter and applause from the audiences. Kanye also laughed at the joke and then replied: “I’m trying to defend your girl!” A moment of revenge for Taylor Swift and a sweet redemption for the scandalous rapper, Jay-Z’s interruption gag at the ceremony was widely covered by various music news sites and blogs, including MTV and BET, as well as other mainstream news outlets. On the following day of July 3rd, social media metrics firm Trendrr.TV released an infographic chart (shown below) indicating that Jay-Z’s humorous comment led to a notable spike in the volume of BET Awards-related tweets up to more than 101,423 tweets.
2013 MTV Movie Awards
On April 14th, 2013, Kanye’s infamous stunt was reprised by Aubrey Plaza at the 21st MTV Movie Awards ceremony, when the Parks and Recreation actress walked on stage during her fellow comedian actor Will Ferrell‘s reception speech for his “Comedic Genius Award” and attempted to steal his gold popcorn bucket from his hands (shown below). While grabbing the bucket, Ferrell asked "What’s happening?" and “Are you okay?” to the young actress, before she returned to her seat with the words “# the to do list” written on her chest in promoting her then-upcoming comedy film The To Do List.
Immediately after, Plaza was asked to leave the premises by MTV producers. The following morning, Plaza thanked Kanye West on Twitter for advising her to perform the stunt. Within 24 hours, the tweet received over 760 retweets and 940 favorites.
thanks for the advice
<a href="https://twitter.com/kanyewest">kanyewest</a> went better than planned! <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23mtvmovieawards">#mtvmovieawards</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23chrisbosh">#chrisbosh</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23thesecret">#thesecret</a></p>— Aubrey Plaza (evilhag) April 15, 2013
That day, several Internet humor sites and entertainment news blogs compared Plaza’s interruption to Kanye West’s during the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards, including NY Daily News, US Magazine, Perez Hilton, and E! Online. Also on April 15th, the viral content site BuzzFeed posted a breakdown of the event, which included several screen captures and animated GIFs (shown below).
2015 Grammy Awards
At the 2015 Grammy Awards held on February 8th, 2015, American singer-songwriter Beck won the Best Album of the Year award for his 12th studio album Morning Phase, along with two other awards for Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. As Beck went on the stage to receive the gramophone-shaped trophy from his fellow rock musician Prince, Kanye West popped up on stage unannounced and began approaching the microphone, shortly before shaking his head in jest and returning to his seat. Within minutes of the incident, the rapper’s short but memorable on-stage appearance became immortalized in the form of Vine clips (shown below). At 8:42 p.m. (EST), Viner Arielle Castillo shared a short video clip of the moment as it was broadcast live on TV, which has gained over 144,000 views and more than 1,000 retweets in less than 24 hours. A few minutes later at 8:58 p.m. (EST), Viner Feitelberg Barstool shared another video clip capturing the reactions of Jay-Z and Beyonce in the audience as West made his way on to the stage, garnering more than 14 million views and 200,000 retweets in the same time period.
Meanwhile on Twitter, West’s stunt was met by mixed opinions from the fans of both recording artists, as it evoked many viewers of his now-infamous rant during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Video award at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Huffington Post – Kanye West On Jay Leno: Apologizes To Taylor Swift
Rolling Stone – Taylor Swift Recounts Kanye West VMAs Incident on “The View”