Until Sunday, Kanye West had yet to perform at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn arena that West's sort of best buddy Jay Z sort of built. That all changed at the MTV's Video Music Awards, when West performed "Blood on the Leaves" for an eager crowd.
West's VMA performance followed a stellar rendition of "Black Skinhead" on "Saturday Night Live" and a somewhat curious video for that track, which featured an animated West who could be controlled by fans. Imagery of men in black hoods flipped the script on KKK-esque visuals, making it little surprise that the song's name has been stylized as "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD" in recent weeks.
This time, West was again introduced with low lighting, but he didn't perform "Skinhead" as previously expected. Moments before he took the stage, West linked to his website to post the image he used as the backdrop for his performance, a tree that was "used for lynching." Director Steve McQueen is credited with the photo.
Thirty Second's To Mars' Jared Leto introduced West.
MTV had pulled out all the stops in terms of booking performers for this year's VMAs, having signed checks to bring Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore, Daft Punk and more to Brooklyn. One Direction hosted the party -- live updates from the night are available below the following gallery.