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Hip-hop happened big-time at the MTV Video Music Awards

Nicki Minaj returned to the VMAs as host rather than just performer.
Nicki Minaj returned to the VMAs as host rather than just performer.

Wherever Nicki Minaj hosts, she brings the house down. And at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the queen of rap got to showcase the skills that make her a legacy performer.

The VMAs ran from 8 p.m. until almost midnight and celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop on MTV. The award show ended with the rap acts who define the genre partying onstage and shouting out their neighborhoods. The finale spanned talents from Minaj to others like the Furious Five and last year’s co-host, LL Cool J.

Minaj’s longtime boss and best friend, Lil Wayne, opened up the night with a mob-style dance basked in red light. He set the tone for the rest of the event by hugging everyone else on stage and thanking the audience.

Other ground-shaking moments for rap and hip-hop came from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of “Bongos” and Doja Cat’s medley of hit singles from her upcoming album, “Scarlet.”

SZA won the Best R&B Moonman for “Shirt” among crazy competition, and Ice Spice won Best New Artist. Diddy also took home the Global Icon Performance, and comedian Tiffany Haddish even announced her plans to cross into music.

The very best of all the hip-hop performances, however, was Minaj’s. She debuted her new single “Last Time I Saw You” with flawless pop vocals before switching gears to dark rap by surprising fans with another brand new track called “Big Difference.” Her Barbz went berserk when she popped off her big black dress and revealed her skin-tight lace fit between songs.

It was Shakira’s Video Vanguard performance, though, that earned the loudest cheers. Even at 46 years old, she quickly struck into multiple acrobatic poses, hyping the whole venue up with gold and hips.

K-pop groups stole the spotlight over and over with their impressive choreography, theatrics and live vocals. Olivia Rodrigo promoted her latest album “GUTS” by following-up Lil Wayne early on with two new singles. Måneskin played with the essence of MTV itself by having the lead singer direct the viewer using a clunky, ’90s handheld tape recorder-inspired camera.

After her performance, Minaj continued to hint at her upcoming album, “Pink Friday 2,” by smiling back and forth with the queen of clues, Taylor Swift. While Swift accepted Best Direction for “Anti-Hero” onstage, the two icons once again referenced the astrological sign they share, which keeps sparking rumors online about a future collaboration.

Swift experienced yet another big awards night after last year, when she shocked the crowd by introducing her 10th album, “Midnights.” This year, she was the most nominated artist, spanning 11 categories, mostly in her video pursuits. She won Best Pop and Song of the Year for “Anti-Hero” and appeared in a body-length, slim black dress adorned with gold buttons. 

And to make history again, Swift scored the title award of the VMAs — Video of the Year — for “Anti-Hero,” which marked her second year winning in a row. Despite not dropping any news for Swifties like she did in 2022, Swift delivered a heartwarming speech and then high-fived fans on the floor until the final frame of the show cut.

No matter who won at this year’s VMAs, the one thing all audiences could agree on was that hip-hop will live on for another 50 years and forever after that.

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