In a recent interview with Billboard, MTV executive Van Toffler suggested that Kanye was initially slated to perform at Sunday’s awards show when he accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. “We originally thought Kanye was going to do a medley,” Van Toffler noted. “Then we thought he was going to not do music and talk. Then, about two acts into the show, we thought he would do a couple-song medley. This is after the show started. Then, about an act before, we found out that he might not do music and just speak—but we had to be prepared for both, so we had a track cued up. We were in the truck and we heard this 10 minutes before he was to accept the award.
“It’s never happened that way before,” Van Toffler added. “We decided to be open to whatever Kanye wanted because he’s given us so many moments—unexpected ones. So we weren’t sure whether he would break into song or not. We had a track—he would have rapped to his biggest hits.”
According to Van Toffler, Kanye even kept his own team in the dark about his plans. “Someone from his camp was with us in the truck,” Van Toffler remembered. “He was surprised too.”