Watch: Kanye West Performs ‘Blood On The Leaves’ at 2013 MTV VMAs

Prior to his brief, yet exuberant performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West shared with his Twitter followers an image of a tree with the caption “BLOOD ON THE LEAVES.” The photograph also appeared as the background on the Barclays Center stage while West emphatically carried out his rendition of “Blood On The Leaves,” off his latest LP Yeezus. According to, the tree allegedly was used to lynch African-Americans, and those who were murdered were later buried in the ground around the tree.

West titled the image Lynching Tree, and revealed London-born film director Steve McQueen as the man behind the upcoming music video. McQueen is currently prepping the release of Twelve Years a Slave, a historical drama based on a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

The popular track off of West’s most recent album Yeezus samples Nina Simone’s cover of Billie Holiday’s classic “Strange Fruit.” Within the song, West raps about clearing his mind and a foiled relationship. The correlation between lynching and West’s lyrics are unclear but may be explained in the forthcoming McQueen directed visuals.