In her Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech, Elliott paid tribute to the artists whose music videos inspired her to break boundaries across two decades.
Elliott absolutely killed this iconic medley of her greatest hits from top to bottom, immediately sending herself toward the top of Twitter's trending topics (just below the VMAs themselves).
Not only is she a legend in hip-hop, but she still has every bit of everything that made her such a monumental superstar throughout the heights of her career in the 1990s and 2000s.
This year's recipient of the MTV Video Vanguard Award is easily one of the most deserving of all time because Elliott was way more than just an incredible emcee with an ear for a hook you won't forget for decades to come.
She pioneered so much of what came to define the look of music videos by defying tradition, female stereotypes and expectations at every turn. When women were encouraged to try and look sexy in their videos, Elliott put on what amounted to an inflated trash bag. It obscured her physical features but elevated her lyrics, voice and performance.
In her acceptance speech, Elliott not only pointedly put the "Michael Jackson" back into the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award," she paid tribute to other iconic music video pioneers who influenced her storied catalog, including Busta Rhymes, Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel and Madonna.
The rapper was a ball of energy and innovation in every one of her videos and she proved she still has every bit of that as she worked her way through some of her most iconic songs Monday night including "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It." It was all the young artists in the audience could do to keep up with her as she deftly moved across the stage through elaborate sets and dancers and never once let up.
For serious fans, Elliott even invited actress Alyson Stoner to join her on stage, who had notable roles as a background dancer in several of Elliott's videos.
And proving again just how much she values the contributions of dancers like Stoner, Elliott closed by saying, "I want to dedicate this award to the dance community all around the world because when y'all get on the stage with these artists, y'all are not just props. Y'all are the icing on the cake, y'all are the beat to the heart."
Notably (mostly) absent from the music scene since 2005's "The Cookbook," Elliott stormed back into the public consciousness with a five-track EP entitled "Iconology" this year and she couldn't have found a more fitting album title. For everyone who remembers, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott was a force of nature when she first hit the music scene and her imagery and vision still shapes how music is presented.
For anyone new to what she brings to the industry, this was a slap in the face as to what they'd been missing all those years. It was also a huge slap in the face to the VMAs themselves, as the only artist who came close to touching Elliott's performance was perhaps unironically Lizzo, who has long cited Elliott as a huge influence in the development of her own approach to music and performance.
To see how a 48-year-old music video and hip-hop icon can still break the internet, just look at some of the enthusiasm Elliott's performance engendered below:
In tears watching Missy Elliot perform. That was one of BEST performances I’ve ever seen in my life. Omfg— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) August 27, 2019
Missy Elliott is a hip-hop legend. point. blank. PERIOD! she’s getting the love and recognition she deserved over these past two decades of working her damn ass off. the hits she’s given us along with the stunning visuals in the videos AND in her live performances. legend status. pic.twitter.com/yjtJIzxYwm— 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒄𝒊𝒐’𝒔 𝒔𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒓𝒕𝒆𝒓. (@GLOSSPHOENIX) August 27, 2019
I got nothing. Missy took all of it. Why does this show need to keep going? There’s no reason. #VMAs— Elaine L. (@LaineyGossip) August 27, 2019
Missy refusing to call the award anything but the “Michael Jackson Video Vangaurd award” is big energy— Kazeem Famuyide 🍎 (@RealLifeKaz) August 27, 2019
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