VH1 Hip Hop Honors is making its return to the small screen after a six-year hiatus with a show dedicated to the ladies. This year’s ceremony, its first since 2010, will salute the rule-bending women in hip-hop who have not only loaded their resumes with gigs across music, film and television, but have also made a significant impact on the male-dominated genre and mainstream pop culture.
“We really did feel like the topic of women empowerment, women’s issues, women finally getting recognized for being trailblazers not just in music but in politics and all industries is very much in the cultural conversation that’s happening, and so we thought this was a very relevant theme this year,” VH1 Hip Hop Honors executive producer Amy Doyle — who is also the executive vice president and deputy general manager of VH1 and Logo — recently told Billboard. She also explains that the six-year break allowed for the genre to grow. “I wasn’t at VH1 at the time, but what I had heard is that after doing so many [shows] and recognizing relevant hip-hop artists and moments, [the network] felt like it just needed a break and some time where the genre could continue to grow.”
With hip-hop veterans like Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa and Lil’ Kim named honorees, each tribute will feature an array of guests from Hollywood and beyond to help celebrate each artist’s multi-faceted career. “Queen Latifah’s hip-hop roots kicked open the door for her to become her own boss and make her mark in TV and film, where she’s continuing to thrive and get recognized as both an amazing actress and an executive producer,” Doyle explained. “Missy is not only making hits for herself, but she’s making hits for other artists. To this day, she has been a vanguard in the music video space as exemplified by her latest video ‘WTF.’ Lil’ Kim is coming off of a triumphant run on the Bad Boy reunion tour and fans could not get enough of her. Salt-N-Pepa continue to play to sold-out crowds all over the world — their songs are so timeless. All four of them felt as relevant as ever.”
Doyle notes that many other women who have infiltrated hip-hop won’t be forgotten at VH1 Hip Hop Honors either. “These [honorees] aren’t the only trailblazing women in hip-hop, so there will be a big and special moment of acknowledgment for a lot of the women that I’m sure are floating around in your head right now,” teases Doyle, without giving away names. Still, the talent that has been tapped for the show, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, has created a super ladies’ night of sorts. Eve — a rapper and former first lady of the Ruff Ryders rap crew, as well as a staple in the Barbershop movie franchise — will be the night’s master of ceremonies. Esteemed photographer Annie Leibovitz helmed the photo shoot, while hip-hop journalist Dream Hampton penned the show. Honoree Latifah and Love & Hip Hop showrunner Mona Scott-Young also serve as executive producers.
“It has taken months, and we’re not done yet. We will still be booking the show ’till the night before as a lot of moments are still coming together,” Doyle admits with a laugh several days before the ceremony, set to take place at New York’s David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center on Monday night (July 11). Despite the arduous task of booking talent and making sure the production runs smoothly, Doyle ultimately offers, “It has been a labor of love.”
VH1 Hip Hop Honors returns Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on VH1.