VH1’s Hip Hop Honors aired Monday, June 11. This year’s ceremony was aptly named “All Hail the Queens” as female icons such as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Peppa, and Lil’ Kim were recognized for their contributions to a male-dominated genre. The divas of hip-hop collaborated for a superb, stirring evening.
VH1’s Hip Hop Honors is the latest in a series of record-breaking Viacom award shows this spring. More than three million viewers tuned in for the spectacle, giving VH1 its highest Monday-night ratings in over a year. The show generated 17 trending Twitter topics, and was the most-tweeted day of VH1’s fiscal year.
Want to know what everyone’s tweeting about? Check out these highlights.
The opening performance brought us back to the 90s with Adidas tracksuits, bucket hats, and a dance tribute to Missy Elliott.
Remy Ma, Nelly Furtado, Eve and Trina performed a medley of Elliott’s songs, including Work It, Get Ur Freak On, Hot Boyz, One Minute Man, Lose Control and WTF. Backup dancers flipped somersaults and krumped to the beat of Elliott’s powerhouse hits.
Queen Latifah’s act showcased her artistic range, from Broadway to freestyle.
The performance began with the diva singing a soulful rendition of When You’re Good to Mama from the musical Chicago. “Nuffa that,” shouted Latifah between each song, seamlessly moving between rap, hip-hop, and gospel. The Queen led fellow performers Rah Digga, Lady of Rage, Da Brat and Yo-Yo through the musical medley.
Push it real good: The Salt-N-Pepa tribute honored the three queens’ venerated classics with a rush of girl power.
Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella emerged in the late 80s as the first all-girl hip-hop crew. Keke Palmer, Ashanti, Eve, and Dreezy showed their respect for the trailblazing group with a stunning performance of the trio’s spunky hits. Eve kicked off the tribute with Shoop, and Ashanti rapped Whatta Man. The act finished with Keke Palmer and Dreezy’s rendition of Push It.
Puff Daddy honored Lil’ Kim’s ingenuity: “you changed the female emcee game.”
Puff Daddy told the star he had somewhere else to be on the night of the Hip Hop Honors. He wanted it to be an epic surprise. The plan worked well—Lil’ Kim was visibly shocked to see her mentor onstage at the event.
“I couldn’t miss this, baby,” said Puff Daddy, “I love you so much.”
Puff Daddy recalled his first memory of the feisty diva, back when she was a collaborator with Biggy Smalls. “I knew she was gonna be a superstar,” said Puff Daddy. “Kim has always taken risks.”
It also happened to be Lil’ Kim’s birthday. Members of the stage crew wheeled out a massive pink cake at the end of the tribute speech, and Puff Daddy led the audience in singing happy birthday to the star.
Michelle Obama praised the queens of rap and philanthropy, Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah.
In a pre-recorded tape, the first lady congratulated the stars—who she considers her “girls”— with a shout out for being humanitarians of the hip-hop industry. Both Latifah and Elliott contribute to Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which provides an education to the 62 million girls worldwide who are currently not in school.
Queen Latifah ended the night with a fierce performance of U.N.I.T.Y. along with her fellow queens.
In a bold display of female unity, a fleet of hip-hop pioneers joined Queen Latifah for the show’s grand finale: MC Lyte, Mia X, Nikki D, Sha Rock, Suga T, Rah Digga, Ms. Jade, Da Brat, The Boss, Lady of Rage, Babs, Monie Love, Sweet Tee and Yo-Yo.
Check out more highlights on VH1.com.