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Missy Elliott was presented with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at Monday night’s MTV VMAs and rightly so. The groundbreaking rapper and music video visionary has released some of the most iconic videos of all time and during her medley performance on Monday night, Elliott brought some of those videos to life.

Fittingly kicking off her throwback performance with her new single “Throw It Back,” Missy and her huge team of dancers recreated some of the most memorable moments from her past music videos. The rapper donned her signature black vinyl wind suit from “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” stood in the middle of a makeshift cornfield and posed as a scarecrow for “Pass That Dutch” and even reunited with actor and dancer Alyson Stoner, who famously starred in Elliott’s 2002 music video “Work It” when the Disney alum was only nine-years-old. Proving she’s still able to work it (give her a glass of wah-tah), 26-year-old Stoner hit the stage at the VMAs in a yellow Adidas tracksuit and recreated her iconic choreography.

 

Following her incredible performance, which saw attendees like Taylor Swift and Lizzo dancing in the audience, Missy was introduced by Cardi B, who spoke about the rapper’s enduring legacy not only in music, but in fashion and music videos. “Nobody deserves to be in the Video Vanguard more than Missy,” said Cardi. “She changed the music video artform completely with her style, humor and unforgettable creativity. Missy has inspired countless women to find their own voice and stand up for themselves. She’s a voice we need.”

A visibly emotional Missy accepted the award, promising she wouldn’t cry before launching into a list of thank-yous that has been decades in the making. But the moment that meant the most to those who have helped Missy on her path to music history was when the rapper thanked the often forgotten dancers she’s performed with throughout her career. Following her shout-outs to Timbaland, Aaliyah, Peter Gabriel, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes and Madonna, Missy said “Lastly, I want to dedicate this to the dance community all around the world. Because when you get on the stage with these artists … y’all are not just props. Y’all are the beat to the heart.”


In addition to Cardi, Missy was also honoured by a handful of her friends and peers, including Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, longtime producing partner Timbaland, frequent collaborator Ciara, and new artist Lizzo, who Elliott worked with on Lizzo’s breakthrough album Cuz I Love You.


The montage shot by MTV also included Janet Jackson, with Elliott sharing a longer video Jackson shot for her good friend in honour of Missy’s latest achievement. Lovingly referring to Missy as Jack, Janet talks about Elliott as a person, saying her ‘soul is so true’ and that her ‘energy and spirit is beyond.’

Missy Elliott’s Video Vanguard win comes just three days after the rapper returned with her first collection of songs in 14 years. Dropping her EP Iconology on Friday, Missy added her latest iconic video to her incredible collection with the dark pop track “Throw It Back.” It’s good to have Missy Elliott, well, back.