MTV VMAs celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with Grandmaster Flash, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and more

Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew, LL Cool J and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels also appeared in the tribute

The 2023 MTV VMAs wrapped up with a celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, featuring some of the genre’s pioneering stars from over the last five decades.

The performance came a month after what is considered to be the anniversary of the genre, which is credited as being born when DJ Kool Herc created a new way of DJing at a party in the Bronx.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five kicked off the special performance with a rendition of their 1982 single ‘The Message’ before handing over to Doug E. Fresh for a version of ‘The Show’. Nicki Minaj brought the tribute into more modern times with a medley of ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’ and ‘Red Ruby Da Sleaze’.


She also rapped a line from her 2015 song ‘Truffle Butter’, in which she boasts: “I must have about a milli on me right now / And I ain’t talkin’ about that Lil Wayne record.” As the line came to a close, the beat segued into Lil Wayne’s ‘A Milli’ and the rapper took to the mic.

The celebration of hip-hop closed out with performances from LL Cool J and Run DMC’s Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels.

Elsewhere at the VMAs, Lil Wayne kicked off the awards show with a performance of ‘Uproar’ and ‘Kat Food’. Olivia Rodrigo followed him with a rendition of ‘Vampire’ and ‘Get Him Back!’, recreating elements of the video for the former track.

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion also gave their new collaboration ‘Bongos’ its live premiere, while Doja Cat aired three songs from her upcoming new album ‘Scarlet’. Nicki Minaj used her performance to preview ‘Pink Friday 2’ with a clip of an unreleased song and Demi Lovato brought rock versions of some of her pop hits to the show.

Stray Kids made their first appearance at the MTV VMAs, performing a remix of ‘S-Class’ and collecting the Best K-pop award. Shakira crowdsurfed as she collected her Video Vanguard award, becoming the first South American artist to receive it.


Meanwhile, Tomorrow X Together and Anitta premiered their upcoming collaboration, ‘Back For More’, during the ceremony, while Fall Out Boy performed their updated take on Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’.

*NSYNC reunited for the first time in a decade to present Taylor Swift with the award for Best Pop, while the pop star praised her collaborator Jack Antonoff when picking up Song Of The Year. “We will continue making music until 2089,” she joked.


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