Rapper, dancer, producer, songwriter, fashion icon, hip-hop icon, feminist, visionary, innovator...those are just a few words that describe Missy Elliott. Since the 1990s, Missy has always introduced a new style for hip hop and pop culture fans alike; whether it was her Avant-Garde music videos and the out of this world outfits, her vibrant performances that stood apart from her peers at the times, the beats and music she produced for herself and for other artists that changed the sound of R&B and Pop, her fashion taste that no one else could duplicate, or her brand of feminism that included body positivity and embracing her curves. Everything that people are talking about now, Missy was the first to do it; she was the poster girl for confident plus size women in hip hop before Lizzo, before everyone was obsessed with the MET Gala and even before Lady Gaga, everyone looked to Missy as to what over-the-top outfit she was going to wear next, she was animated and brought theatrics before Nicki Minaj, and paved the way for multidimensional artists like H.E.R so that women can do more than be on the stage, they can play instruments and produce records without men as well. Missy Elliott is the true definition of #BlackGirlMagic and is the example of how being your true authentic self can take you places you never imagined. Her groundbreaking music videos and albums that have sold millions around the world have influenced generations after her, she’s not only one of the top-selling female rappers of all time, but her efforts are the reasons why she was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.
Thanks to Kid Fury and Crissle (from the wildly popular podcast, The Read), for spending years spearheading the campaign to get Missy Elliott the highest honor from MTV, the time finally came this summer when Missy announced she was getting the award via Instagram. Many fans online were ecstatic as they not only wanted Missy to receive this award, but Missy would go on to make history, as the first female hip hop artist to receive it. Viewers didn’t know when to expect Missy’s performance, however videos of her friends in the industry as well as people she has influenced and collaborated with popped up during commercials breaks. The commentary came from long-time collaborator Timbaland, Janet Jackson, Ciara, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, and Lizzo.
The performance started with a clip of her performing her new single, “Throw It Back”, then she hit the stage performing her first hit, “Supa Dupa Fly” in the signature airbag outfit which stunned the crowd. Missy then performed her hits “Hot Boyz”, “Get Ur Freak On”, “Work It” (which Alyson Stone, the girl in the video, made an appearance and performed a solo dance piece herself). She then performed “Pass That Dutch” and closed the show out with a performance of “Lose Control” which featured some Chicago footworkin dance technique (yup, I noticed it too).
While accepting her award, Missy took the time to thank her mother and reflect on her career. Missy also thanked MTV, her creative, management, and glam team, her hometown of Virginia, and her friend Janet Jackson, who she also called her inspiration as she named people who she used to watch growing up, which included some big names including Madonna and Busta Rhymes.
Missy also thanked Kid Fury and Crissle from The Read for campaigning for Missy to receive this honor, (they even got to go with her as her guest), and she gave a shoutout to her friend and former collaborator, the late R&B icon, Aaliyah, who tragically lost her life in a plane crash in 2001. Before she left the stage, Missy dedicated her award to the dance community, as she believes they are the icing on the cake in performances, not just props.
To check out a full list of winners, go to the official VMA website.