Missy Elliott had nothing to prove when she showed up at Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, and yet she performed with her whole life in a career-spanning medley that lasted over seven minutes and comprised no fewer than five costume changes. Recreating scenes from indelible, era-defining videos like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)“ and “Work It,” Elliott not only reminded the audience of her own singular greatness, she showed ‘em how it’s done, period. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore; pop culture would be better off if they did. How refreshing it is to see a true visionary at work.
Elliott’s blockbuster performance preceded her acceptance of the VMA’s lifetime achievement award, the Video Vanguard. It was an overdue honor. Elliott’s brief speech included a list of her influences in the video field (Busta Rhymes, Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Madonna), a shoutout to Aaliyah (a close friend and protege of sorts to Missy, who died 18 years ago on Sunday), and a dedication to “the dance community of the world.”
“I am so humbly grateful, I thank y’all,” said Elliott who referred to her trophy by its full name: the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.