Missy Elliott is arguably the most successful and iconic female rapper in music, full stop. She’s worked with everyone from Ciara to Madonna and has spent over two decades churning out chart-topping hits that span genres and styles. And tonight, August 26, she received a proper tribute at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. Elliott was the recipient of this year’s Video Vanguard Award, and she took the opportunity to show the world why she is—and always will be—a living legend.
Elliott delivered a show-stopping performance at tonight’s show, offering up a medley of her biggest songs, including “Work It” and “Lose Control.” Alyson Stoner, the dancer who appeared in Elliott’s music videos “Work It,” “Gossip Folks,” and “I’m Really Hot” as a young girl, made a cameo during the performance that set the Internet ablaze. Cardi B then came on stage and gave a speech outlining just how impactful Elliott has been on the entire music industry before the legend herself came out to accept her Vanguard award.
“I promised I wouldn’t cry this time,” Missy Elliott said on stage. “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. I know you’re watching this. Janet Jackson, I know you are watching, I love you. Thank you for being such a great friend.”
She thanked several artists in her speech, including Busta Rhymes, Jackson, and Madonna for inspiring her. She then added, “Aaliyah, I love you. We miss you,” in reference to the R&B singer who died tragically in a plane crash in 2001.
“Lastly, I want to dedicate this award to the dance community all around the world,” Elliott said to close out her speech. “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.”
See some of the best reactions to Elliott’s performance for yourself, below: