Update – Kanye West Apologizes to Beck

Last Updated February 27, 2015

“I was excited [when Kanye West approached the stage],” Beck explained in a post-Grammy ceremony interview with Access Hollywood of Ye’s now infamous fake-out bumrush. “I was disappointed that he walked away. He’s a tease. I said, ‘Come on, I want a Kanye moment’…I wish he stayed.”

Beck echoed these remarks to Us Weekly at the Universal Music Group afterparty, “I was just so excited he was coming up. He deserves to be on stage as much as anybody. How many great records has he put out in the last five years right?” Asked about Kanye’s post-Grammy remarks on “true artistry,” Beck replied “You can’t please everybody, man. I still love [Kanye] and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.” 

Billboard’s Grammy reporters got a different sense from Beck’s team on Sunday night,” according to Hollywood Reporter. “People in his camp seemed furious and didn’t see any humor in Kanye’s aborted speech-crashing. One insider grumbled, ‘Kanye is ‘fighting for creativity’? It took 68 people to make that Beyonce record. Beck wrote his entire album and played every instrument.‘”

Asked on February 11th what he thought of Kanye’s actions, Capitol Music Group Chairman/CEO Steve Barnett replied, “I think he needs a therapist. … We live in America [where] there’s freedom of speech, if you want to act like a buffoon, you can act like a buffoon.”

Kanye commented on his Grammy night rant with TMZ the next morning, claiming “I wasn’t sayin’ Beck, I said the Grammys. Beck know that Beyoncé should’ve won. You know that.” Asked if he had heard of Beck prior the Grammys he replied, “C’mon man, I love Beck! But he ain’t have Album of the Year.”

Kanye further explained in an On Air with Ryan Seacrest interview on February 11th that voices in his head told him to crash Beck’s acceptance speech:

“You know, I felt like just the whole Grammys, right when that happened, everybody was looking at me and then people started screaming, ‘Kanye! Kanye! Go do it!’ Okay, that didn’t really happen, these were voices in my head. So the voices in my head told me go and then I just walked up like halfway up the stage. What I really wanted to do was joke around with what had happened before [with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs], but I didn’t want to take away from Beck’s moment or the time he had to talk…so I just walked back down. It was kind of a joke, like the Grammys themselves.”

Kanye also claimed in the same interview that he plays basketball with Beck, and that he’ll be working with Taylor Swift:

“Taylor Swift came up to me right afterwards, literally right afterwards, and tells me that I should’ve went onstage. So, this is the irony of my life…She wants to get in the studio, and we’re definitely going to go in.”

“When I said that thing about respect artistry, I think it came off the wrong way, and that was a mis-wording on my part because obviously Beck is one the most respected artists and respects artistry. But I felt that even though the Grammys sometimes gives awards to people who you wouldn’t think should win in the category, as a respect to artists, we mention the other artist’s name in our speech. And that was the point I was making about it. There’s like many of times I gave other people my award, literally made them come up onstage. Maroon 5, when they won best new artist, [Adam Levine] mentioned me because it was the College Dropout and [it had] 10 nominations and all that.”

He added, “I don’t feel like I have the right to take away from people’s moments, but the reality of it is,” overlooking the fact that his E! post-Grammy interview has overshadowed all the night’s winners and performers (including Beyonce’s finale performance and the three wins repositioning her as the second-most-honored female musician in Grammy history). Kanye also told Seacrest he has sworn off attending The Grammys until changes are made. “I will not go until I sit with [NARAS president] Neil [Portnow], sit with [NARAS chairman emeritus] Jimmy Jam, and fix the voting system to be more in accord with the popular votes, because the popularity is what is needed to sell commercials.

As with the Taylor Swift VMA incident in 2009, West’s Grammy rant coincided with his own promotion. In the former scenario, West appeared the next night on the series premiere of the short-lived Jay Leno Show with an incomprehensible, ratings-bait apology ending in tears, and performing his latest single with Rihanna and Jay-Z, “Run This Town” (from The Blueprint 3, released the previous week). This time Kanye’s words came days before the unveiling of his Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost sneakers at a New York presentation streamed to 50 theaters around the world and featuring the debut of his new song, “Wolves” with Sia and Vic Mensa (not to mention, on the heels of two singles, both performed at the Grammys: “FourFiveSeconds” with Rihanna and Paul McCartney and “Only One”).

In the days following the Grammys numerous artists joined in the chorus that it’s Kanye “who is so busy disrespecting artistry,” as Shirley Manson phrased it in a widely shared open letter on facebook. Many others – including New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Kemar Browner – took to twitter to scorn the rapper:

Kanye West made more headlines on February 19th after admitting on Power 105’s “The Breakfast Club” his post-Grammy comments about respecting artistry were “completely hypocritical” and that he hadn’t heard the Beck album he had protested for winning. “The other day I went to dinner,” he said, “sat down with Taylor Swift. And ironically, they were playing the Beck album… Maybe they did it on purpose so I could finally hear it. But I was listening, [and] I was like, ‘Man, this is like kinda good. I ain’t gonna lie.'” After some chatter from the DJs, Kanye interjected:

You know what, I bet you that album is really good. I’m going to listen to the album and maybe it was potentially an Album of the Year but the Grammys are still – they have a commercial component to it. And they want to sell commercials. So if they have these big superstars sitting in the audience and advertise that ‘Upcoming Next, Performing’ – that’s what they do to try to get those views. You don’t have these people sitting here and have them like their hearts beating and stuff. We work too hard to deal with all that. We ain’t got time to be losing in a situation – cause who’s winning? We ain’t getting none of that advertising money. Don’t play with us. That’s what my main point is.

West also backpedaled on some of his comments from the Seacrest interview. “I ain’t got the answers of how to change the voting system. I ain’t got the answers of how to make it where everyone is honored in the proper way. And sometimes maybe it’s two people who should win. Who’s to say who should win?” Commenting on the 21 Grammys he has personally won he said, “I think I deserve more.” West concluded on the controversy:

“I got his [Beck’s] number and I was supposed to call, but I just keep forgetting… I felt good for him because think of all the good stuff that happened to me in the last seven days, eight days. The person that won the most was Beck because if I hadn’t done that his Album of the Year would’ve never been mentioned. That was in all the chatter, ‘Kanye West messes up again.,’ ‘Kanye West is Donkey of the Day.’ I’m already the enemy so you can’t get no worse than the villain… He should win an award for what he did — Rock Album or something like that — but he shouldn’t have won that award in my opinion. But who am I to have an opinion?”

Beck attended Elton John’s AIDS Foundation Oscar viewing party on February 22nd. “It’s for a good cause,” Beck told Variety. “[Elton is] so generous and I can’t imagine all the different directions he’s going in and he still has time to do things like that. He’s a rare breed.” Beck was also asked about Kanye’s remarks:

“You know. I don’t know. I think the whole thing is… it’s just one of those things that plays out, like a top that spins,” the rocker told Variety at Elton John’s Sunday night. “I really just try and not to take it personally.”

“There are so many musicians who I admire and look up to and get inspired by and just when I think all the good songs that have been written already, and [then] someone goes and does something — and Kanye has done that many times.”

As for Elton’s thoughts on the matter, he described Morning Phase as “fantastic. I thought it was the most deserved win.” The following day Stereogum posted an interview with Noel Gallagher. Asked about award shows the former Oasis guitarist replied:

I’m aware of our mate Kanye being a bit of a buffoon at one of them, yeahDidn’t he say Beck should ‘respect artistry’ and pass the award on to Beyoncé?” He continued that Kanye “needs to look up the fucking term “artistry” and then see if it reminds him, in any way, of Beyoncé. If shaking your ass for a living is considered art, then she’s right up there, no?

We could boil this down to two separate things. Beck writes all his own music, OK? There you go, the end. You have to employ a fucking team of songwriters and eight producers and nine engineers, or you can sing it, hum it, play it yourself, I don’t know. You decide. I know what side of the fence I’m on.”

Brother Liam followed suit:

Piers Morgan disagrees. In a February 24th Daily Mail editorial praising Kanye as “the Muhammad Ali of showbusiness,” the tabloid newsman writes, “frankly, if Beck did have an ounce of self-awareness about the cheesy guff he churns out, that’s exactly what he should have done [given his award to Beyonce].”

Billy Corgan has also weighed in. “Kanye’s from Chicago so I gotta be careful, I gotta represent,” the Smashing Pumpkin said on Australia’s The Morning Show on February 25th (watch the full segment here).

I think it’s inappropriate for any artist to take somebody else’s moment and make it their own … In that particular moment you’re basically saying that everything that Beck’s done to be in that position is negated because in your own mind it’s not relevant to you, or your own thing. I didn’t think that’s the moment to do it. Maybe afterwards you can say that, you can put it in your own blog. But to jump on stage and steal that moment, to re-appropriate it in your own way I think is inappropriate. I will add – and I mean this in all seriousness – the problem with the social media era is the Grammys will be rewarded for bad behaviour and so by extension will Kanye … It really should be a celebration of accomplishment and it becomes another version of high school.”

“I don’t know Kanye, but I think he’s speaking from his heart. He believes what he’s saying. I just think that’s an inappropriate venue to do it because in essence that’s Beck’s moment.

“I’ve been on that podium too [Smashing Pumpkins have won two Grammy Awards] and if someone got up on my stage I’d knock them out. I don’t care who it is I would’ve knocked him out … That’s my stage. I earned the right to be on the stage at that moment. That was Beck’s moment.”

“I can see the headline now, ‘If Kanye got on stage I would knock him out.’ And of course Kanye is going to see that headline and be like, ‘Bring it.’ [Laughs] I love Kanye, he’s a great artist, but 90 percent of people will just read that headline and I will start getting hate-tweets from Kanye fans saying ‘How dare you’, ‘I’ll knock you out’, blah blah blah. It’s a dumb world.”

On February 26th Kanye spoke for an hour with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1. Among other topics Kanye insisted, “I never said he [Beck] is not an artist.” He went on to say, “Everybody has a right to an opinion. Everybody has a right to be wrong.”

“As I said on the Charlemagne interview, when I was ironically having diner with Taylor Swift, the Beck song starts playing and I was like, ‘Wow this is really good. Maybe I might have been wrong.'”

Later that night Kanye publicly apologized to Beck on twitter:


Among the many who replied to Kanye’s tweet was David Crosby, who in turn got a reply from John Darnielle, aka Mountain Goats.

Ah, twitter…



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