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Has Kanye West been forgiven?

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
Kanye West returns to the MTV Video Music Awards a year after an infamous incident involving singer Taylor Swift.
Kanye West returns to the MTV Video Music Awards a year after an infamous incident involving singer Taylor Swift.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kanye West performs new song "Runaway" at MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night
  • Music editor says fans had already forgiven West for his behavior at last year's awards
  • Writer says West fans love him for his honesty, even if he's rude sometimes

(CNN) -- The redemption train keeps rolling right along for Kanye West.

His performance Sunday night on MTV's Video Music Awards may have started with a few boos, but the rapper left the stage to chants of "Kanye, Kanye" after performing his new song "Runaway."

Mariel Concepción, associate editor for Billboard.com, said die-hard fans of the famously bombastic performer had already moved on from his antics at last year's show when he rushed the stage and stole the moment as Taylor Swift accepted the award for best female video.

"I forgive the douchebag," said Concepción, referencing Kanye West's seemingly self-deprecating "Runaway" lyrics. "I think for the most part people were over it, by the time this rolled around. I personally think he redeemed himself when he released 'Power,' 'Monster' and all of those dope tracks."

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She added, "I mean, he performed at the VMAs so clearly he has redeemed himself."

West's show-closing performance was one of the evenings most anticipated, given the skewering he took after the 2009 incident. He was even the punch line for a few jokes at Sunday night's ceremony. Host Chelsea Handler referred to West as "the big, black elephant in the room," and in introducing the rapper, comedian Aziz Ansari pretended to laugh about the previous year's incident before saying, "Well, I don't know what everybody's so mad about, that sounds hilarious."

Other than his performance, West kept it low key at this year's awards show. There were no red carpet interviews and no shots of him in the audience.

The rapper took to the stage well after Swift performed a song she penned titled "Innocent," which seemed to forgive West for his indiscretion.

"It's all right, just wait and see, your string of lights is still bright to me," Swift sang. "Oh, who you are is not where you've been. You're still an innocent."

Abbey Goodman, executive editor of Rolling Stone.com, said West had already done a great deal toward redeeming himself with fans by publicly apologizing to Swift -- most recently via his Twitter account.

And true to form from a man who has been well-known for his ego, West took to the stage with all the "look at me" bravado he is famous for, from his red suit and multiple gold chains to the (often bleeped) lyrics that stated, "Let's have a toast for the douchebags, let's have a toast for the a*******."

"I think that it was something of a powerful, good reminder to people of what makes him a great artist," Goodman said. "He has gone through a journey this past year and wanted to show he's come through triumphant."

Ian Drew, senior music editor for Us Weekly, said West's "artistic genius outweighs any small mistake."

"The lyrics of the song are sort of about embracing your mistakes and moving forward," Drew said. "You can't deny listening to his music that he is one of great talents of today and no mistake can sequester that."

Billy Johnson Jr., who writes the "Hip Hop Media Training" blog for Yahoo.com, was in the press room at the awards show. He said many fans have been able to separate the talent from the person and already had forgiven West the Swift incident.

"People love Kanye," Johnson said. "He says things that people might be thinking, even if it seems rude, and I think people like that aspect of him in that he is honest."

Billboard.com's Concepción said she doubts West won any new fans with his VMA performance because many expected him to address the Swift incident more directly, perhaps by appearing with her and offering a heartfelt apology.

"That would have been corny," Concepción said. "And that wouldn't have been Kanye."

 
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