Justin Timberlake pulled a Kanye West Saturday night in the best way: The musician was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame that evening, and gave a speech clocking in at nearly 30 minutes to voice his appreciation for the honor, his love for the city of Memphis, and his gratitude for those who’ve helped him along the way (and to crack some jokes on the side, too).
“This is the f—ing coolest thing that has ever happened to me,” began Timberlake, who was born and raised in Memphis. “This is really, really a surprise for me to be honored here tonight. I felt like it was sort of unwarranted when I first looked at the list of my fellow inductees, but I’ve also never been one to turn down a reason to come home and spend time in the city that I grew up in that holds such a special place in my heart.”
He later went on to lead the audience in an impromptu rendition of the University of Memphis fight song before praising the Memphis-based musicians who came before him and thanking his family. “I’m literally about to become the weird uncle that got drunk at your wedding and took the microphone at the reception,” Timberlake — who sipped from a glass of tequila throughout the speech — warned.
“First, I want to thank my beautiful, loving, and incredibly understanding-of-her-husband’s-shortcomings wife, Jessica,” he said. “Baby, I love you. More than I could put into words and more than any song I could ever write.” He then thanked his grandparents — his “original entourage” — his father, his stepdad, and his mother, and finished his speech by tearfully thanking “all the great artists in this hall.”
“I am truly honored to merely stand on the shoulders of all these legends that I grew up listening to, that I grew up admiring,” he said. “And to say I stand alongside them now… Memphis, the greatest city in the world, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, you have given me and my family — who is clearly half of this section — the greatest honor this evening, and made us all very proud, and I only hope that I can continue to return the favor for as long as I live and breathe.”
Watch the full speech (which starts at about the 10-minute mark) below.