Rihanna’s 2016 VMAs is absolutely one she will never forget. Follow four (!) performances scattered throughout the ceremony — including an intro from Mary J. Blige — the evening concluded with her finally accepting the moonman that has been bestowed upon legendary acts like Madonna, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and many other legends.
Her current boyfriend Drake confessed his love to her and presented the award. Although, in her own speech Rihanna didn’t take the time to mention him. She did take a minute to note that she is earning this award as a mere 28-year-old. Let that sink in. And when she finally got that opportunity to speak her mind with the floor being hers, she decided to thank the people who brought her along the way.
First and foremost, she thanked her native country of Barbados saying that “Barbados has never had a vanguard of any kind before.” Clearly proud of her Bajan heritage, it was a palpably touching moment. Following that, Rih recognized that she was in a unique position and decided to honor women, Black women and all of those who have to fight in society to claim what’s theirs. Someone like Rihanna has never felt shy to take what belongs to her. I mean, we’ve heard the song before.
The speech was a fantastic way to close the busy night and top off the notion that yes, it’s pretty much Rihanna’s world and we’re all just living in it, trying to awkwardly hug/kiss her like Drake.
Here’s a full transcript of her speech:
MTV, this is such an amazing night. It’s such an amazing moment in my career. When I think about the Vanguard Award and receiving this tonight, all I could think of was my country. They’re going to be so proud. This is the first Vanguard to land anywhere close to my country.
And so, you know my success, it started as my dream. But now my success is not my own, you know? It’s my family’s. It’s my fans. It’s my country’s. It’s the Caribbean as a whole. It’s women. It’s black women.
So many people feel like their little piece is such a major part of this puzzle. And I have to thank you guys for supporting me over and over. Thank you to every director who has taken a chance on me and a chance with my crazy ideas. There’s just so much growth that has happened over the last 11 years, and I can’t believe I am receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at 28 years old.
It’s crazy, and I have so many people to thank. I mean, from the very beginning, Evan and Carl from SRP, you guys believed in me, you brought me straight to Jay Z’s office, where I met Jay, Tata, LA Reid, Jay Brown, my whole publicity team, my glam team, so many people, man, they right with me from day to day.
My best friends never left me. They actually followed my ass all the way to America, getting on my damn nerves, and they here right now just witnessing this. This is a big moment. Thank you Drake for that amazing speech. Thank you MTV, I had so much fun! Good night.