Immediately after dialing in a hellacious performance at the 2022 VMAs at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Nicki Minaj returned to the stage to deliver her speech as the newest Video Vanguard Award recipient Sunday night (Aug. 28).
Met by a crew of her most devoted Barbz, Minaj expressed gratitude toward her rap counterparts and supporters. First, she credited Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, and Lil Wayne, among other legendary MCs who helped influence her flow. Minaj then praised Eminem, Beyonce, Kanye West, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Madonna, and more for allowing her to work aside them throughout her career. She then saluted her Young Money cohort Drake for “saying the things that she needed to hear” to stay focused. As she continued to pour out her thanks, Minaj took a second to reflect on the passings of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
“I wish Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here,” she shared. “I wish people understood what they meant and were going through. I wish people took mental health seriously.” Minaj also shared touching words for recently fallen rappers Pop Smoke, Nipsey Hussle, and Juice WRLD before expressing her sorrow for her recent losses, including her dad, cousin, and business manager Andrew.
The mood quickly shifted from melancholy to excitement when Nicki thanked her “babies” — aka the Barbz — for their longstanding support before shouting out her new baby, her son, who is nicknamed “Papa Bear.”
Minaj is the first VMA Video Vanguard recipient since 2019’s winner Missy Elliott. Along with receiving one of the night’s highest honors, she hosted the awards ceremony alongside LL Cool J and Jack Harlow. This week, Minaj also accomplished a new career feat: netting her first solo Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song with “Super Freaky Girl.”
Watch Nicki Minaj’s performance Video Vanguard Award speech below: