Kanye West recently ranted about singer Taylor Swift and expressed empathy for former President George W. Bush and during a performance at a sold-out concert at the Bowery Ballroom in New York to celebrate the launch of his new album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy".
The 33-year-old rapper had drawn criticism for saying "doesn't care about black people", while slamming the U.S. leader's handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. West said in a November interview on "The Today Show" that he was frustrated at the time and did not have the "grounds" to call Bush racist.
West was also criticized for interrupting Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. He later apologized.
"Everyone wants to use people and villainize people," West said at the Bowery Ballroom concert. "Even if you take the concept of George Bush, there is no leader in history that has been villainized in that way and didn't' get killed at war or commit suicide. So any man who lives through it deserves one moment of redemption."
"We need to blame someone at all times and for me to be considered a racist for stating a blatant truth, an obvious truth," he said. "I am very particular with my words and the emotion that I felt at that time. Wasn't worded exactly right. I'm talking about five years ago, I'm talking about Katrina. I rode it, just as Taylor never came to my defense in any interview, and rode the waves and rode it and rode it, that's the way I rode the waves of the Bush comment."
Fellow music artists Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, Rick Ross and John Legend, who are featured on the record, also perform with West, who took the stage just past 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the New York Times.
Tickets for the event were snapped up quickly, with scalpers demanding thousands of dollars for them as the time of the concert approached. Scores of people lined up outside the door for hours beforehand, while celebrities such as rapper Diddy and actor Spike Lee were spotted in the venue's V.I.P section.
Check out a fan-made video of Kanye West's performance and rant at the Bowery Ballroom on Nov. 23, 2010. (Warning: Contains explicit language)