He didn’t sell the most albums (that was Eminem) or have the year’s hottest single (that was Usher), but at the close of 2010, there really is no other choice for MTV News’ Man of the Year than Kanye West
After all, no one dominated the pop-culture landscape quite like he did. From his self-imposed hiatus to his triumphant return to his tantrums (and, of course, his tweets), everyone was talking about West in 2010. No one completed as compelling a comeback story, and most importantly, no one released an album as searing and soaring as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And he did it all his way, without compromise or contrition. It truly was 12 months to behold.
West came into 2010 as a villain, still stinging from the public smack-down he received following the Taylor Swift debacle, and he leaves it as a hero: not only the year’s most celebrated artist, but its most compelling and visionary too. And if that’s not worthy of an award, well, then we don’t know what is. King Kanye reigns supreme. Here’s a look back at a very memorable year in his life.
2010 Highlights: West’s story actually begins in September 2009, after he stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. His actions were lambasted by everyone from Donald Trump to Jimmy Carter, and as a result, he tearfully told Jay Leno that he needed to “take time off.” And he wasn’t kidding. ‘Ye canceled his much-anticipated Fame Kills Tour with Lady Gaga and all but disappeared from the public eye, leading to rumors that he had checked himself into rehab (or, alternately, fled to India). He briefly appeared onstage with Beyoncé in London, but, really, that was it. West was, for all intents and purposes, a ghost.
He skipped the Grammys in February but did appear on the “We Are the World – 25 for Haiti” charity single, which signaled his slow return. The following month, he wrote a lengthy blog post that remembered late designer Alexander McQueen and hinted that he had begun working on, well, something. And then in May, we finally began to hear the fruits of his labor when the snarling “Power” leaked to the Net. The following month, he returned to the stage with a swaggering performance of the song at the BET Awards, and then, it was game on.
He famously joined Twitter (a move that would give birth to an unending stream of brilliance in the ensuing months) and began a string of impromptu performances at corporate headquarters. In August, he premiered the arty 90-second clip for “Power” and spent the next month working with everyone from Bon Iver to Justin Bieber. He unveiled his G.O.O.D. Fridays project and premiered a new song, the artfully damaged “Runaway,” at the 2010 VMAs. He wowed viewers on “Saturday Night Live,” announced that his new album would be titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and began screening “Runaway,” the 35-minute film he directed, around the world.
In October, he made waves when he tweeted that the cover art for Fantasy had been “banned” and then premiered “Runaway” on MTV. In November, with the release of his album less than three weeks away, he became tangled up with George W. Bush and “Today” show host Matt Lauer. Fantasy garners rave reviews for its scope and swagger, and it subsequently tops the Billboard albums chart. “Runaway” and “Power” land at #2 and #3, respectively, on MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown, and as the year draws to a close, West continues to make headlines, both with a gory preview of his “Monster” video and rumors that he knocked up Kim Kardashian — both of which seem to point to the fact that 2011 is gonna be a big year, indeed