Few people are better suited to present Rihanna with an achievement award celebrating her entire career than Drake (okay, maybe Jay Z, but hush). He’s been intimately involved — no pun intended — with RiRi for a long time. Drake told the story of how they met as he presented her with her Video Vanguard award at the 2016 MTV VMAs.
Drizzy told the crowd that they met each other (and Director X) on the set of “Pon De Replay” and that he’s been hanging around Robyn Fenty ever since.
“Who would have thought that 11 years later, all three of us would come together to make a music video called ‘Work’ “? he asked.
Drake said Rihanna “surpassed all competition…while still remaining the same girl from Barbados” before he set all of the rumor mills on fire by admitting something that we’ve known for a long, long time.
“She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old,” he said before handing the mic over to Rihanna. Here’s a transcript of his full speech courtesy of Genius:
The first time, the first time I met Robyn Fenty was 2005. She was shooting a music video at a restaurant called [?] in Toronto, the song was “Pon de Replay,” and the director… and the director of the video was Little X. I was introduced to her as the kid who played background music at the restaurant as people ate their dinner. It’s hard to believe that 11 years later all three of us would come together (for) the visual for her song called “Work.”
Today the world knows Little X as Director X, they know me as Drake and not the kid singing while you order pasta. But 11 years later, they still know Rihanna as the one and only, Rihanna. Captivating from day one, the iconic being known as Rihanna was already at a place where most artists only dream of going. For them that’s often a peak, but for her that was a starting point, as she has kept ascending to an untouchable level ever since.
When it comes to music, she relentlessly takes over the charts with every release. When it comes to performances, they swarm in masses just to be in her presence… obviously… And when it comes to fashion and style she makes it seem so effortless until you try to do it yourself, which is when it gets a little awkward.
What’s most impressive isn’t the endless list of stats, awards and accomplishments. What’s most impressive is the person. Some artists need to play a character to achieve success, some need to downplay their own natural instincts to blend in. She succeeds by doing something that no one in this industry does, which is being herself.
This woman has surpassed all competition while still being the same girl from Barbados, surrounded by the same friends, speaking with the same accent and never missing a crop over unless it’s to come and perform at OVO Fest. We love the music which can change styles from album to album. We love the videos which change their artistic vision from year to year. But most of all, we love the woman who hasn’t changed since day one.
She’s someone, she’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old. She’s one of my… she’s one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me. She’s a living, breathing legend in our industry. Ladies and gentlemen, the recipient of the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award for 2016: Rihanna.
The “BBHMM” singer took her time on the mic not to profess her love for Drake, but instead her home country of Barbados.
“When I got this award all I could think of is my country,” she said. “My success is not my own.”
Stay updated with our list of 2016 MTV Video Music Award winners and also check out our live-updating red carpet coverage as the show rolls on.