The Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, part of the Tribeca Film Festival, honored Kanye West and Rick Rubin for their groundbreaking use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine throughout their careers. Rubin, of course, immortalized the machine during his formative years at Def Jam, banging out mind-bending drum patterns and morphing entirely new sounds for Run D.M.C, The Beastie Boys, and more, and West recontexualized the vintage production tool with bright new sonics, from the moody arrangements on 808′s & Heartbreak to the white-knuckle blipfest that is Yeezus.
The duo were unable to attend the ceremony, and instead collaborated with director Mark Romanek, the eye behind iconic music videos like Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” and Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” to create an 80-second sequence featuring both artists offering their thanks under kung-fu flick voiceovers, sandwiched between archived footage and spastic graphics. Rubin remarks: “Kanye and I would like to give thanks on behalf of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. It continues to be responsible for new music some thirty years after its release and discontinuation.” And Kanye keeps it simple: “Thank you very much.” Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, was enthused with their video speech, commenting, “This trio raised the bar: disrupted the future for all award shows and the usual deadly, boring acceptance speeches… They might have cracked the code on how to make award shows more exciting for everyone. Bring it on and congratulations.”
UPDATE: The clip appears to have been removed, but will premiere at tonight’s awards ceremony at NYU’s Skirball Center.