Nicki Minaj received her flowers as she was honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. Taking the stage for her first performance since 2018, Nicki turned New Jersey’s Prudential Center into her very own Barbie dream house while delivering an electrifying medley of her greatest hits.
Rocking a curly pink ponytail, she opened her 10-minute performance with “Roman’s Revenge” before revisiting one of her greatest verses on “Monster.” It was followed by “Beez in the Trap,” “Chun-Li,” and “Moment 4 Life” as her Barbz sang along to every word.
Taylor Swift danced in her seat as Nicki took it back with “Super Bass” before capping off the retrospective with her latest hit “Super Freaky Girl,” which became her first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Following her performance, five of her Barbz took the stage to present the Video Vanguard Award to their idol, who joins past recipients including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, and Missy Elliott.
After asking for her phone, Nicki started off by thanking the “key people that inspired me and who I think inspired my flow,” including Lil Wayne, JAY-Z, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, Slick Rick, and Doug E. Fresh. She also thanked those who gave her “huge opportunities” such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Britney Spears, and Rihanna.
Her Young Money brother Drake also received a shoutout. “I have to thank Drizzy for always saying the things that I need to hear to get me back in the game,” said Nicki.
She paid tribute to her late father and stars who passed away too soon. “I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here,” she said. “I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish people took mental health seriously, even for the people who you think have the perfect lives. I wish Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD and Nipsey Hussle were here.”
In a hilarious nod to Whitney Houston at the 2001 BET Awards, she told the producers to “lay low” and not cut her speech.
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An emotional Nicki ended by thanking the Barbz and her son Papa Bear. “I have a new baby. His name is Papa Bear… Mommy loves you so, so, so, so much,” she said.
Nicki’s big night continued as she returned later to emcee the show and pick up another VMA for Best Hip-Hop for “Do We Have a Problem?” featuring Lil Baby.