Hip-hop 50th anniversary celebrations are still underway, and some of the culture’s most formative architects and torchbearers hit the stage at the 2023 MTV VMAs to honor it. At the end of the Sept. 12 event, hip-hop icons like LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and more performed a medley of songs like “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “The Message,” respectively. Other tribute performances included Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show,” Nicki Minaj’s “Itty Bitty Piggy” and “Red Ruby Da Sleeze,” and Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” Run-D.M.C. closed things out with the hit “Walk This Way.”
Lil Wayne and Minaj were both nominated for awards at the night’s show, including in the best hip-hop category, which the latter won with “Super Freaky Girl.” Lil Wayne opened up the VMAs with his new single, “Kat Food,” while host Minaj performed her track “Last Time I Saw You” and another song off her upcoming “Pink Friday 2” album.
Many of the artists featured in the VMAs hip-hop tribute have a long history with the award show, such as D.M.C., who were last seen on the VMAs stage during a performance of “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith in 1987. The same goes for LL Cool J, who was one of the emcees at the 2022 show.
Hip-hop’s 50th anniversary marks half a century since DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell’s famous back-to-school jam in the Bronx in 1973. The milestone has already sparked countless tributes and performances this year, from a star-studded show at Yankee Stadium on hip-hop’s anniversary date (Aug. 11) to POPSUGAR’s tribute to women in hip-hop, “All Hail the Queens.”