For The First Time Ever, A Major Awards Show Will Exclusively Celebrate Female MCs

It’s been six years since the last Hip-Hop Honors television special aired, but that’s not the only reason why the return of the broadcast on July 11 is making headlines. For the first time ever, the Vh1 special will feature a lineup of honorees consisting entirely of women whose contributions to music are as invaluable as those of artists honored in previous years. The honorees will include Queen Latifah and Lil Kim, as well as Missy Elliott and Salt-N-Pepa who will return for a second round of celebrations.

Lil’ Kim, Da Brat, Left Eye, & Missy Elliott Invited the World to Ladies Night Nearly 20 Years Ago (Video)

Since first airing in 2004, what was once an annual TV event has celebrated the legacies of icons including 2Pac, A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, KRS-One, Outkast, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., and many others. In 2005, Salt-N-Pepa became the inaugural female artists selected as honorees, followed by MC Lyte in 2006 (who also served as co-host of 2004’s maiden event). It was Missy Elliott’s turn in 2007, but she proved to be the final female recipient in the show’s history. That is, until now.

Queen Latifah, whose 1993 anthem “U.N.I.T.Y.” remains one of the most acclaimed songs celebrating female empowerment to date, is an unsurprising and well-deserving choice for this year’s telecast. Having successfully tackled the world of music many times over, the Grammy winner is also an Emmy-winning actress, whose starring role in Bessie allowed for the perfect marriage of her talents on stage and screen. Recently, she anchored a panel at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin Texas where she was joined by fellow honoree Missy Elliott and First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss issues facing girls and women around the world, extending her influence on feminism far beyond the mic.

lil kim & missy 2

Lil’ Kim, above and beyond the contributions she’s made to Rap music, is a particularly fitting choice for the July event. Later this year, her iconic debut double-platinum and Grammy-nominated album Hardcore will turn 20, so the voice behind “Crush On You,” “No Time,” and “Not Tonight” has a lot to celebrate. Her work on the smash 2001 hit “Lady Marmalade” made her only the second woman (behind Lauryn Hill) rapper to have a number-one song on the Hot 100 chart, and she picked up a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. These days, she’s busy gearing up for the Bad Boy Reunion Tour, which just tore down Barclays Center in her native Brooklyn, New York and hits the national road later this summer.