Missy Elliott received the MTV Video Vanguard Award tonight. She cruised through a medley of her classic songs (Throw It Back, Supa Dupa Fly, Hot Boyz, Get Ur Freak On, Work It, Pass That Dutch and Lose Control) like we hoped and by the end of it, we craved more. Seven minutes just wasn’t enough to capture Missy’s career or what she means to the Black female experience. As the cameras panned in on White entertainers and fans dancing in the crowd, it became more evident not even MTV understands her profound importance to the #BlackGirlMagic movement before it was a trend. A bunch of Beckys moving to the down beat have no clue how Missy helped awkward Black girls find the confidence to exist in their own skin.
Lizzo reiterated Missy’s significance in her confessional while talking about the icon’s influence on her not only her career, but the career of many of our favorite artists. “I literally grew up being like, I want to be that one day,” she said on the verge of tears. Another dope Black woman added, “She made it so thick girls like me, from the hood, can be ourselves.”
Missy represented everything that was missing in mainstream music. She didn’t fit the mold so she broke it, put a black plastic bag over it, bedazzled it with glasses and added a hot beat to compliment it. She pioneered a new sound, visuals that captivated you and songs that commanded you to move. All while in a Black body that didn’t fit society’s definition of sexy or beautiful. But she did that sh*t, unapologetically and inspired every Black woman who listened to her music or found themselves in her.
Missy’s impact on music and the dance world spans three-decades. She has fostered the careers of other legendary/ iconic artists like Timberland, Aaliyah, Tweet (before 140 characters defined the socialsphere), Ginuwine, Jazmine Sullivan and Playa to name a few. She’s collaborated with Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Lil’ Kim, Total and more. Missy can move and also had a hand or should we say a foot in the careers of many dancers including Alyson Stoner, who joined her on stage for a viral moment.
Missy’s Vanguard award was long overdue and most of the people it impacted were home shouting from their living rooms. Not in the audience. And that’s OK, but MTV please stop subjecting us to long shots of white women pretending to know what Missy means to to the world.
Watch her performance, below: