Video: Watch Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J & More Celebrate 50 Years of Hip-Hop at the VMAs

Minaj also served as the emcee of the night.

By: Sep. 13, 2023

DMC, Doug E. Fresh, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and LL COOL J joined Lil Wayne and show emcee Nicki Minaj for a legendary tribute to Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary at last night's VMAs.

Legendary Hip Hop icon Darryl “DMC” McDaniels made a triumphant return to MTV’s stage for the first time in 35+ years after RUN-DMC’s groundbreaking, genre-bending performance of “Walk This Way” alongside Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, paving the way for future “VMAs” cross-genre collaborations.

The first rap group on MTV was also the first to grace the cover of Rolling Stone and to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for revolutionizing the genre by lending rock and rap elements with their hard-hitting beats and no-nonsense rhymes. With 40 million record sales and ½ billion song streams, their eponymous album “Run-D.M.C.” marked a turning point in Hip Hop, becoming the first rap album to earn a Gold certification.

Subsequently “Raising Hell” earned multi-Platinum status and is still regarded as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time. DMC is co-founder of The Felix Organization, an Advisory Board Member for Hip Hop Public Health and has received numerous awards for his philanthropic endeavors.

Known as the “Human Beatbox, Doug E. Fresh is credited for his beatboxing techniques and innovations, setting the standard for future generations by creating complex rhythms and sounds with his mouth, which was groundbreaking and influential in the development of Hip Hop music. Beyond music, he serves as an ambassador for Hip Hop, championing the culture and positive aspects, and an advocate for education, using his platform to inspire young people.

Hip Hop’s groundbreaking innovators Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five took to the “VMAs'' stage for the first time ever for this historic finale performance. The first rap group to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, they fundamentally elevated the ways Hip Hop was performed and experienced; “Grandmaster Flash“ pioneered the foundation for modern DJing.

The group’s seminal track “The Message” was a game-changing moment in the genre with its socially conscious lyrics and vivid storytelling.

Video Vanguard Award recipient LL Cool J (1997) returned to the “VMAs” stage to perform for the first time in 25+ years after serving as one of the show’s emcees last year. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and “VMAs” winner for “Best Rap” (1991) was the first Hip Hop artist to amass 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums.

He was also the first rapper to earn the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor and received his star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016. Founder of Rock The Bells, his global platform has become the preeminent voice for timeless Hip Hop, and paves the path from genre icons to those inspired by their groundbreaking influences.

The 5x GRAMMY Award-winning and multi-platinum global music icon Lil Wayne returned to the “VMAs” stage for the first time in more than a decade where he will perform his new single dropping on 9/1, “Kat Food”, live for the very first time.

With a discography highlighted by over 120 million records sold worldwide including 26 million albums, Lil Wayne has cemented his legacy as one of the best-selling artists in history and one of the most influential artists in Hip-Hop. In 2022, Lil Wayne earned his first Diamond certification from the RIAA with his generational smash hit “Lollipop” feat. Static Major. The 14x nominee will once again compete in the “Best Hip-Hop” category for the coveted Moon Person, an award he first won in 2008.

The 4x “Best Hip Hop” award winner Nicki Minaj reprised her dual role as performer and show emcee for the second consecutive year.

Last year, the 6x winner of the “VMAs” commanded the event as emcee, performer, winner of “Best Hip Hop,” plus recipient of the coveted Video Vanguard Award. Minaj boasts an impressive 25 overall “VMAs'' nominations, including 6 nods this year. She’s notably nominated once again for “Best Hip Hop,” a category she first won 12 years ago and another 3 times thereafter (2015, 2018, 2022). This year, her other 5 nominations include the sought after categories of “Video of the Year” and “Artist of the Year.”

Watch the performance here:


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From This Author - Michael Major

Michael Major is a Connecticut native and a graduate of Marist College.After starting out running social media for a theatre company, his love of pop culture led him to intern at TigerBeat Media. Afte... Michael Major">(read more about this author)