It’s officially been a decade since Kanye West drunkenly snatched the mic during Taylor Swift’s MTV VMA acceptance speech and spoke those infamous four words: “I’mma let you finish.”
As we all know, this awkward and culturally explosive moment forever shaped the careers of both artists. This, of course, begs the question: What if it never happened? What would the world look like in 2019 if Kanye never interrupted Taylor on that fateful night?
Brace yourselves for the ultimate butterfly effect.
For starters, without Kanye’s VMA shenanigans, and the media backlash that would follow, there is no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which is without question one of the greatest albums of all time. Consequently, we never hear the epic cockiness of “Power,” where Kanye reflects on how his influence has become dangerously godlike; “Runaway,” the beautiful ballad where Kanye reflects on his uncontrollable douchebaggery; or “Monster,” the song that turned Nicki Minaj into an overnight superstar. (We’ll get back to her in a minute.)
Instead of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye creates his worst album yet, with the corny title Welcome To The West. (Who the hell let him do that?!) Unable to capture the magic of his previous four albums, he phones it in with songs like “Bling Bling” (featuring Mike Jones and Soulja Boy) and “Gold Digger II: Dig Deeper” (featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay). Other guests include Fred Durst, the lead singer of Nickelback, and Pauly Shore, who records a spoken-word interlude at gunpoint. Welcome To The West gets rightfully labeled as one of the worst albums of all time. Rolling Stone gives it negative four stars out of five, calling it “a second 9/11.”
The negative response to Welcome To The West causes Kanye’s famous ego to completely deflate, turning him into the most humble man on Earth. Taking his L in stride, he downgrades to the simpler life—selling all his belongings and moving into a one-bedroom cottage in rural Wyoming. He disappears forever, like the rap game JD Salinger.
Meanwhile, since Nicki Minaj never releases her masterful “Monster” verse, she fades into obscurity. Nicki’s music gets lost to the sands of time, forcing her to get a job at In-N-Out Burger—where she’s quickly fired for losing her temper and beating up a senior citizen with a cash register. During her fall from grace, all of Young Money goes down with the ship. Lil Wayne barely scrapes by with Old Navy commercials. Drake falls off, causing a domino effect that somehow leads to Lil Dicky becoming the highest-charting rapper of the decade. “Comedy rap” becomes the dominant form of hip-hop in the 2020s. In 2022, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill start a hip-hop duo called “Run The Jews.” Horrific.
While all of this is going on, the public begins to turn on Taylor Swift. With no victim narrative to lean on, America starts to resent her. We start to collectively realize that Taylor didn’t deserve her VMA because Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. We’re angry there were no celebrities brave enough to say this.
But, again, Kanye is gone, meaning we never get Watch The Throne. We never get Yeezus. No Life Of Pablo, no Kids See Ghosts. The South Park “Fishsticks” episode mocking Kanye never gets made, thus allowing Carlos Mencia to make a comeback and become the new host of The Tonight Show. Jimmy Fallon is homeless.
With a Kanye-sized hole in the music industry, the careers he boosted never come to fruition. Chance’s historic “Ultralight Beam” verse never transforms him into a household name; now he’s Chance The Uber Driver. Without Yeezus to lay the initial groundwork for Travis Scott’s sound, we never get the magic of ASTROWORLD. Travis Scott instead pursues stand-up comedy, bombing with hacky Tinder jokes at Houston open mics for eternity. And without “Ni**as In Paris,” France’s economy mysteriously crumbles beyond repair.
There’s a tiny bright side; humble Kanye is a sight to behold. Without superstardom, he has no platform to chase controversy. In 2016, he never wrote that “BILL COSBY INNOCENT” tweet. He secretly goes to law school and passes the bar exam so that he can become the prosecuting attorney to bring Cosby to justice finally. Kanye also doesn't support Trump, but that’s because he doesn't own a TV in his Wyoming cottage and still has no idea that Hillary didn’t win the election.
Without the VMA narrative adding an exciting arc to her career saga, Taylor Swift’s career crumbles. Last time we saw her, she was performing at a county fair in suburban Wisconsin, getting paid in unlimited corn dogs. This outcome may not sound tragic, but I don’t wanna live in a world where I can’t secretly listen to “Shake It Off” on the treadmill.
Now, it’s 2019. Kanye West and Taylor Swift are both distant names from long ago, barely remembered. Nothing more than vague, trivial figures of empty nostalgia. And a world without Kanye is a depressing world indeed. “It’s better to have a crazy Kanye than to have no Kanye at all,” says President Obama in an eloquent speech on the night of his reelection.
So thank God for the booze Kanye consumed that night. Thank God for Beyoncé having one of the best videos of all time. And thank God for Kanye doing the most Kanye thing Kanye has ever done at the 2009 VMA’s.
We would never want to live in a world where Kanye didn't interrupt Taylor.
May he never let her finish.