When it was announced that rap legend Missy Elliott would perform at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, there was no question which catalog hits she’d be delivering alongside new release “Throw It Back.” Fans weren’t disappointed by the Video Vanguard selection’s choice of songs, which naturally included “The Rain,” her signature, breakout hit, “Get Ur Freak On,” the mind-bending, hip twister, and “Work It,” her biggest hit yet. Breakdancers, Alyson Stoner (aka “the little white girl” from her biggest videos), scarecrows, a UFO, and more joined Missy, who started out in a neon hall of mirrors and eventually wound up in a simulated cornfield, proving that no one can match her creative mind for performances — whether music videos or live on stage.
Missy’s comeback came as something of a surprise for longtime fans. While the pioneering Virginia rap veteran has posted dozens of Instagram photos and videos from the studio or referring to her new music this year, there was little indication that she’d release a full project until she announced Iconology ahead of the weekend. The five-song EP might not have been what fans were expecting, but it was enough to whet their appetites for a longer project down the line, as it showed that Missy’s once-futuristic style still felt right at home in any era.
— Genius (@Genius) August 27, 2019
That’s why MTV saw fit to honor Missy with the Vanguard Award in a year that had already seen her awarded with an honorary degree from Berklee College and inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame — by none other than former First Lady Michelle Obama, no less. Even over 20 years after her groundbreaking debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, Missy is still inspiring artists like Lizzo, with whom she collaborated on the latter’s hit “Tempo” earlier this year, becoming an elder stateswoman of hip-hop even as she keeps pace with contemporary artists.