NEW YORK — Kanye West has backed out of a scheduled performance on NBC’s “Today” show after getting upset with how his interview with host Matt Lauer this week was handled.
West’s record company confirmed the cancellation to “Today” on Friday after the rapper said on his Twitter account that he wouldn’t perform. He was scheduled to appear Nov. 26, part of a promotion drive for his new disc, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which is being released Nov. 22.
During the interview, which was taped Tuesday and aired Thursday, West appeared thrown when “Today” aired a video clip of an embarrassing moment — when he grabbed a microphone from Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and said Beyonce should have won an award instead of Swift.
West tweeted this week that he felt “set up” by the interview and that Lauer tried to force his answers. His cancellation notice was accompanied by mixed messages.
“Much love to Matt and the whole Today show,” he said in a Twitter message. “I accept ya’ll future apology in advance LOL!”
In the interview, West talked about former President George W. Bush’s angry response to West saying after Hurricane Katrina that Bush “doesn’t care about black people.” ”Today” played a clip of Bush speaking about it in his recent interview with Lauer. In seeking a reaction, Lauer noted that it was the most emotional Bush had become during three and a half hours of talking with him.
“Don’t even listen,” Lauer said. “I want you to look at his face.”
That appeared to upset West, who looked away.
“I don’t need you guys to show me the tape in order to prompt my emotion about what I’m going to say,” he said.
Later in the interview, punctuated by pauses where West appeared to be searching for words and Lauer looked perplexed, West became angry when the Swift video was shown. Lauer explained that it was common to show video of an event when it is referenced in an interview, but West complained that he could hear it and wondered how he was supposed to talk over it. Lauer ordered the sound of the tape be turned off.
“Please don’t let that happen again,” West said. “It’s, like, ridiculous.”
Lauer said later that “there was nothing improper about it, nothing unusual about it.”
West’s decision could be a lose-lose situation. It deprives “Today” of an appearance from one of music’s most popular performers on the day after Thanksgiving, when many people are off from work and school.
From West’s standpoint, he was due to perform on Black Friday on the nation’s most-watched morning show, when New York streets around the “Today” studio will likely be clogged with holiday shoppers who might be persuaded to add his disc to their lists.