Missy Elliott performs at the 2019 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in July. Picture: Amy Harris/Invision/AP
Missy Elliott performs at the 2019 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in July. Picture: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Why did MTV take so long to give Missy Elliott her roses?

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Aug 26, 2019

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When Missy Elliott came out during Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance in 2015, it was the beginning of her comeback to pop culture consciousness. 

Not that we had forgotten about Missy. No. We just stopped paying attention. 

How silly of us because Missy Elliott is one of the eminent people in pop culture.

She will finally be given her roses at the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday when she will be honoured with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. 

Missy is a singer/songwriter, rapper, producer and dancer, with more than three decades spent in the industry. 

“Missy’s impact on the music landscape is indelible,” MTV’s Bruce Gillmer told Variety when the news was announced. 

“Her creative vision across production, performance and songwriting is unmatched.”

That it has taken MTV this long to give Missy the award is baffling. That Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Pink, Kanye West and Jennifer Lopez received the honour before Missy, is even crazier. 

Not that they didn’t deserve it. However, they were all inspired by Missy’s music videos released in the ’90s and early 2000s. 

Podcasters, Kid Fury and Crissle of "The Read", have been petitioning MTV to give Missy the lifetime achievement award for her impact and how she’s changed music videos, for many years. And it seems MTV and Missy noticed. 

In a tweet acknowledging the announcement, Missy said: “I am humbly grateful to be receiving the MichaelJacksonVideoVanguard Award. I thank my fans “Supafriends” who fought diligently to see this day come; @KidFury @crissles who rooted for years 4 me; I am crying happy tears; Thank you, God  @MTV @vmas am  so humbled.” 

What has been happening over the past few years, is that MTV was giving out the award as a publicity element to stars who had been in the industry for many years, releasing their new music. 

It had stopped being about awarding music video excellence, which is what the MTV VMAs are about – video music awards.

I guess this comes as no surprise after the debacle in 2009 when Taylor Swift was awarded the VMA for female video of the year and was then interrupted, mid-speech, by Kanye West, saying that Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies" deserved the award more than Swift’s "You Belong With Me". 

Ironically, this week marked a decade since that fateful evening, which was also, in hindsight, the beginning of the relevance of  the VMAs. 

Will finally giving Missy her Vanguard award change this year’s show? Probably. 

It has been a great 2019 for Missy. This award comes after she was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June. She was honoured for her prowess as a songwriter. 

The "Lose Control" rapper also dropped a new EP on Friday called "Iconology" along with a music video for the lead single "Throw It Back". 

She has penned more than 106 songs, many of them for other artists and giving them career-defining hit singles. 

Missy has written songs for Mary J Blige, Ciara, Keyshia Cole, Whitney Houston, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Aaliyah, among other artists. 

But it’s her music videos that changed the way others were doing them. Her impact remains evident to this day. Her innovation and passion for visual arts and choreography have inspired many musicians and directors. The concepts she incorporated into her videos in the ’90s, remain relevant.  

Want to see what the fuss  is about? 

Here are the five videos you should watch that prove just why the Video Vanguard Award is long overdue for Missy Elliott: 

Work It

Lose Control

The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Get Ur Freak On

Beep Me 911

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