Missy Elliott Works It! She Brings Her Classic Videos To Life At The VMAs

Last night (August 26), Missy Elliott accepted the coveted legacy prize at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. The 48-year-old Portsmouth, Virginia MC, producer, dancer, and philanthropist was on hand to receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard trophy, which puts her in the company of some of modern music’s greatest performers.

The artist who surprise-released the four-track ICONOLOGY last Friday (August 23) left no doubt that she remains one of the reigning greats of the MTV video era. In a medley of hits spanning more than 20 years, Melissa Elliott reminded all why Hip-Hop is a performance craft and perfect for creativity. The living legend already amid a tremendous year brought her iconic visuals to incredible life.

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Missy opened with “Throw It Back,” the opening track and video single from her fresh four-pack. Dressed in silver while surrounded by mirrors and dancers, the display had the effect of a 1990s Hype Williams visual. After a minute, Misdemeanor returned to the genesis of her video stardom, 1997’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” She donned the inflatable suit like in the Williams-directed vid’. In a brief sequence, Elliott soared above the crowd in a concert that includes rain to match the Ann Peebles-sampling beat she made with Timbaland.

After a “Hot Boyz” interlude, Missy broke into “Get Ur Freak On.” Dancers, acrobats, and a forest-inspired set design enhanced the moment as Elliott rapped her lines with a bright smile. However, the “Work It” performance that followed may have stolen the show. Elliott brought the now-26-year-old Alyson Stoner to the stage to revive the back-breaking dance routine that rocked TV sets back in 2002. Other B-Boys and B-Girls did acrobatic moves on stage recreating Missy’s incredible brand of futuristic nostalgia from her best-selling LP, Under Construction.

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From there, the elaborate set changed to a cornfield with a flying saucer making its approach. Rocking a deeper cut in “Pass That Dutch,” Missy portrayed a scarecrow while some of her dancers were suddenly beamed up to the vessel. The energy reaches a fever pitch for “Lose Control.” The LED effects behind the stage made Missy’s display feel like a Hollywood Sci-Fi blockbuster.

After taking more than a decade to herself (which, as she recently revealed, included a focus on health), Missy Elliott’s career and legacy are in an incredible place.

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Another Hip-Hop set at the ’19 VMAs included a New Jersey medley by Naughty By Nature, Redman, Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean, and Fetty Wap. Lords Of The Underground’s DoItAll also made an appearance, introducing Red.

Missy’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech included acknowledgements to her mother, Timbo’, Hype Williams, Janet Jackson, Sylvia Rhone, and Jeff Sledge. Joined by her team on stage (including producer Rockwilder), Missy also listed artists whose videos inspire her, including Busta Rhymes, Peter Gabriel, Janet, and Madonna. Elliott dedicated her award to the global dance community, reminding them that they “are not just props,” but “the beat to the heart.” She also mentioned the late Aaliyah, declaring that she loved and missed her collaborator.