You don’t become one of MTV’s Video Vanguard winners without making iconic contributions to the pop culture zeitgeist, and Missy Elliott proved exactly why she’s one of the biggest icons of all when she took the stage at the 2019 VMAs, got her freak on, passed that dutch and — yes — put her thing down, flipped it and reversed it.
Missy received the honor during Monday’s Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, more than 20 years after releasing her first music video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” She is the first female rapper to win the award.
“Her album was the first one I ever bought,” Cardi B said while introducing the “living legend” and running down Missy’s many, many accolades and achievements. “Everyone has copied from Missy Elliott, even me. I don’t care! So what!”
“I promised I wouldn’t cry this time,” Missy said onstage. “This means so much to me. I have worked diligently for over two decades, and I never thought that I would be standing up here receiving this award…I’d like to thank my mother, I love you. Janet Jackson, I know you are watching, I love you. Thank you for being such a great friend.”
Missy went on to thank the likes of Busta Rhymes, Jackson and Madonna for inspiring her. “Aaliyah, I love you. We miss you,” she added. “Lastly, I want to dedicate this award to the dance community all around the world. When y’all get on the stage with these artists, you are not props. You are the icing on the cake. You are the beats to the heart.”
Ahead of her speech, Missy hit the stage for a medley of her biggest hits, an unmistakably Missy Elliott performance that kicked off with her new song, “Throw It Back,” before taking us on a trip down memory lane with “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It” and “Lose Control.”
Wearing sparkling metallic overalls and a giant gold chain, Missy began by dancing in a mirror room surrounded by wigless dancers, then floated above the audience in her iconic inflatable suit for “The Rain.” After a quick change into camo-on-camo, she danced through “Get Ur Freak On” as the likes of Taylor Swift, Halsey and the Hadids sang along in the audience.
Alyson Stoner, who last performed with Missy on the VMAs stage when she was 10 years old, even came out to reprise her “Work It” choreography. Missy wrapped the number up with “Pass That Dutch” dressed as a scarecrow and a massive dance off to “Lose Control.” Cardi B reviewed it best: “That was fire!”
The Video Vanguard win and performance is just the latest milestone for Missy, who became the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in July and, last weekend, dropped her first collection of new music in 14 years, an EP fittingly titled Iconology.
Taylor Swift Kicks Off MTV VMAs With Performance of ‘You Need to Calm Down’ and ‘Lover’
Lizzo Delivers Jam-Packed Entertaining and Inspirational Performance at 2019 MTV VMAs
Bebe Rexha Reveals She ‘Freaked Out’ When Taylor Swift Messaged Her on Instagram (Exclusive)
2019 MTV VMAs: See the Complete Winners List