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Kanye West taking time off after debacle

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A day after Kanye West earned widespread scorn for upstaging Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, the remorseful rapper said on Monday he would take time off to reflect on his behavior.

"... I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve," he told Jay Leno on the premiere episode of the comedian's new comedy show.

West has already apologized twice for hijacking the 19-year-old country starlet's moment in the spotlight at the high-profile awards show in New York. But he told Leno he has not yet been able to apologize to Swift in person.

He was loudly booed when he leaped on stage and grabbed the microphone from Swift as she was accepting the statuette for best female pop video for "You Belong With Me."

He declared it should have gone to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video, which he called "one of the best videos of all time." Swift stood in the background, her face frozen. After West handed her the microphone, she attempted to say something, but the sound had been cut off and she was escorted off by a stage manager.

The outburst on the live telecast was seen by some 27 million viewers -- the largest TV audience since 2002 for the annual MTV Video Music Awards, MTV said on Monday. Video of the incident was seen by some 2 million times on the MTV.com web site alone.

West told Leno that the aftermath had been "extremely difficult" for him to deal with.

"My entire life, I've only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right," he said, according to a transcript provided by NBC. "And I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong, and it wasn't a spectacle or just -- you know, it's actually someone's emotions, you know, that I stepped on. And it was very -- it was just -- it was rude, period."

Late Sunday, West wrote on his Web site that he was "soooooo sorry", adding "Welcome to the real world!!!! Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture!!!"

Earlier on Monday, he issued a second statement, likening himself to Ben Stiller's awkward character in the comedy movie "Meet the Parents."

Swift, the biggest-selling artist of 2008 in the United States with more than 4 million albums, kept a low profile on Monday.

"I've been getting so many text messages and everybody's been really nice," she said on Sunday. "So I've had a really, really fun night. It's been interesting definitely. It's definitely been an interesting night," she said.

She is to appear on Tuesday on daytime chat show "The View".

Fellow musicians were outraged at West's behavior. Singer Kelly Clarkson called West "a sad human being," while "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert wrote on his Twitter page, "Kanye needs to chill. He freaks out every year. It ain't that deep, man."

There were few words of support for West, even from his fans. "Kanye West is a great musician and a great producer but he has lost his mind. He was in the wrong," wrote Lisa on the Usmagazine.com message board.

(Editing by Dean Goodman and Cynthia Osterman)

 
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