Kanye West’s MTV VMAs speech and his idols: What you should know

During a 2016 MTV VMAs speech (see below), Kanye West listed his top five idols, saying, “My role models are artists/merchants. There’s less than 10 that I can name in history: Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West.”

Tech legend Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc.; CEO and majority shareholder of Pixar Animation Studios, a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT Inc. His last words on his deathbed were, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.” His annual salary at Apple was $1. He passed away in 2011 at age 56 after respiratory arrest and a battle with pancreatic cancer.

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Steve Jobs at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood. March 7, 2010 Los Angeles, CA Picture: Paul Smith / Featureflash

One thing Steve Jobs and Kanye West have in common, they’re both college dropouts.

Imagineer emeritus Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was an animator, voice actor –From 1928 (the birth of Mickey Mouse) until 1947, Disney himself did the voice of Mickey- and film producer. Disney held the patent for Technicolor for two years, making him the only animator allowed to make color animated films. He died from lung cancer in 1966.

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Publicity Photo/Credit: Disney

One thing Walt Disney and Kanye West have in common, Chicago, where West grew up is Disney’s hometown.

Industrialist Henry Ford was the founder of Ford Motor Company who is credited with building American’s economy during vulnerable years. Henry Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 83, near his Dearborn, Michigan estate, Fair Lane.

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Publicity Photo/Credit: Ford

One thing Henry Ford and Kanye West have in common, Ford threw in his hat to run for political office – a Senate seat – and West announced during the 2015 VMAs he was running for President in 2020.

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Photo Credit: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. U.S. Army Audiovisual Center.

One of late President Harry S. Truman’s famous quotes is “I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.” This might explain why rapper Kanye West claims him as an idol. His middle name is actually S. It is not an initial, but he added a period to the S to appease the editors of the Chicago Style Manual. The 33rd POTUS and Kanye West both liked fashion. Truman ran a haberdashery business before going into politics.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

In his heyday, the late business tycoon, aviator and billionaire Howard Hughes was one of the most financially successful individuals in the world. He built one of the largest airplanes in history, the H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” (1947) – it was only flown once. Hughes earned his first million dollars at the age of 18. A college dropout like West, the Texan left Rice University and set his sights on Hollywood and became a producer. His first film Hell’s Angels was the most expensive of it’s time. He was also a real estate mogul.

Howard Hughes spent many years as a recluse and was intent on having his privacy..

Here’s his speech in its entirety:

“Now, later tonight, ‘Famous’ might lose to Beyoncé but I can’t be mad. I’m always wishing for Beyoncé to win so… for people to understand just how blessed we are, [‘Famous’] was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV. You know, just to put… the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, I put Ray J in there bro! This is fame, bro! Like, I see you Amber… my wife is a G…

“We came over in the same boat, now we’re all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats, but… If you think about last week, there was 22 people murdered in Chicago. You know, like, people come up to me like, ‘Man, that’s right… Take Taylor? I love all y’all. That’s why I called her!

“So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year and one kid came up to me and said three of my friends died and i don’t know if I’m going to be next. You have to think, when you’re a senior, and you don’t feel like doing any more work. If you’re seeing people dying next to you you might think, what’s the point? Life can start to feel worthless in a way. I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, like, like, rich people, you know? A.K.A. White. And, uh, they tell me don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs. Don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney. And my friend [J. Sakiya Sandifer], tells me, don’t compare yourself to these people. My friend [J. Sakiya Sandifer] told me there’s three keys to keeping people impoverished: taking away their esteem, their resources, and their role models. My role models are artists, merchants. There’s less than 10 I can name in history: Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West.

“Tonight, we’re here to have fun. I’m standing in front of my idol Puff Daddy. I’m standing in front of my wife Kim Kardashian West. I’m standing in front of Future, Chance the Rapper, 2 Chain, Jaden Smith. Bro. We are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art. And I just hope you all have a good time.”

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.



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