VH1 Hip Hop Honors aired last night, and they certainly left their mark this year. With the country ensconced in racial tensions and protests against recent examples of police brutality, the night’s honorees didn’t shy away from sending a message of change and unity. With poignant, beautifully passionate speeches and tributes to some of music’s most influential women, the celebration was exactly what audiences needed. Dubbed “All Hail The Queens,” the night was an acknowledgment of women in hip hop who have paved the way and continue to pave the way for today’s artists. It was the ladies’ night to shine, and shine they did.
Here are some of the moments you just need to see if you missed the show last night.
1. Co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement opened the show
Alicia Garza and Darnell Moore were the introduction to the night. They reiterated that their movement is about love and not about violence. Moore added that “in challenging times, our music heals us, unites us and uplifts us.”
2. Queen Latifah wowed with her speech
3. Betty White honored Queen Latifah
Unofficial Queen of Everything, Betty White, honored Queen Latifah by reading the lyrics to her song U.N.I.T.Y. Hearing a 94-year-old sweetly speak rap lyrics was everything. The moment was so comedic and brilliant.
4. Michelle Obama honored the ladies of hip hop
Michelle Obama made an appearance to celebrate Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott’s immense contribution to the world as artists and activists. The First Lady said, “Through your music and activism, including your support of the Let Girls Learn initiative, you all are encouraging young women all over the world to believe in themselves.” She continued by saying, “I’m so grateful to you for your passion and your contributions to our world, and I can’t wait to see everything you’ll continue to achieve in the years ahead.”
5. Rich Homie Quan flubbed Notorious B.I.G. tribute
When Lil’ Kim called Rich Homie Quan onstage to help her pay homage to the late The Notorious B.I.G., he forgot the lyrics to “Get Money” and just fell silent. Lil’ Kim went on to pick up the slack, but the whole performance suffered from the giant faux pas. Of course, Twitter didn’t take long to bring down the hammer.
6. Diddy’s sweet, surprise moment with Lil’ Kim
Diddy was tasked with honoring Lil’ Kim, and it was a pretty adorable moment, considering the one-man self-PR machine he tends to be. He actually surprised her with his presence and was honest and genuine with his praise, first asking, “What took so goddamn long to honor our queen?” When it came time to describing his fellow artist, he said, “She’s a diva at times, she’s high-maintenance with me at times, but at the end of the day, she demands the ultimate respect.” It was really nice to see such pure respect between artists.
7. Naughty By Nature brought us some nostalgia
Naughty By Nature came onstage and simply owned the crowd. They chose to perform “Hip Hop Hooray,” which was not only a huge top 10 hit in the ’90s but it was also a hugely celebratory moment that had the whole place buzzing with energy.
8. Salt-N-Pepa got their own amazing tribute
Few groups deserve the kind of phenomenal tribute that Salt-N-Pepa received last night. Some of hip hop’s most influential artists jumped onstage to do the honors. Eve performed the always welcome “Shoop” while Ashanti nabbed “Whatta Man,” and Dreezy and Keke Palmer took on the classic “Push It.”
9. Lil’ Kim brought her baby daughter
The fiercest lady on the red carpet had to be Lil’ Kim’s 2-year-old daughter, Royal Reign. Her debut was epic, complete with a diamond encrusted headband. Slay, girl.
10. Fantasia, Tweet and Monica paid tribute to the one and only Missy Elliott
Fantasia belted out, “Free Yourself,” Monica crooned out, “So Gone” and Tweet perfectly handled, “Oops (Oh My).” It was one of two tributes to the iconic artist, and it was so well done.
All in all, the night was about love, music, unity and respect. Every artist in that place was portraying a message of hope and peace while paying tribute to music’s most influential women. What else can you ask for?