The 2023 VMAs took place on Tuesday night September 12, and featured a mix of memorable moments and missed opportunities. The legendary Nicki Minaj hosted the event, bringing her trademark wit and sass to the stage. However, some moments left viewers questioning the show’s choices:
Nicki’s Shady Moments
One of the standout moments was when the Queen Of Rap introduced NSYNC. She hinted at going off-script when she said:
“MTV is petrified because they got a couple calls yesterday and people were saying, “What if Nicki says this and what if Nicki says that? And I said, you know it’s ok, MTV, I can control myself. Because if you can’t control yourself you can’t control anything around you, right? But you know who can’t control themselves? Roman. Red Ruby Da Sleez, Chun Li. So, I’ll think about it.”
Later in the show, Nicki graced the stage with a five-minute performance that began with her rendition of the latest single, “Last Time I Saw You.” She started with a subtle presentation, dressed in all-black baggy attire, before surprising the audience with a transformation into a striking full mesh outfit, revealing a bikini underneath.
Nicki then addressed the MTV audience, saying, “MTV, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give you a Pink Friday 2 exclusive.” With that, she teased her new track, “Big Difference.” One of the standout lyrics from “Big Difference” goes:
“You b*tches look up to me, You say you look up to her, but really you look up to me.”
Lil Wayne, Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion Grace The Stage
The VMA performances were also a highlight of the night. Lil Wayne kicked off the show with an energetic performance, starting with a nod to “Back That Azz Up” before transitioning into “Uproar.” He also showcased his latest single, “Kat Food.”
Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B graced the stage with a three-minute performance to promote their recent collaboration, “Bongos.”
Cardi took the lead, descending from the ceiling and perching atop a disco ball with a central pole. The Houston Hottie followed with a high-energy dance number, infusing an island vibe inspired by their latest music video.
Doja Cat Brings ‘SCARLET’ Energy To The VMAs
Doja Cat delivered a cinematic and somewhat eerie performance, highlighting her three new singles from her upcoming album, SCARLET. Before her performance, Ice Spice presented the Planet Her artist and mentioned her impressive feat of charting at No. 1 on Billboard for “Paint The Town Red,” marking her second time achieving this milestone.
Furthermore, Doja appeared in a blonde wig, surrounded by background dancers covered in fake blood, where her set included “Attention,” “Paint The Town Red,” and concluded with “Demons.” The stage was transformed to evoke a parking garage, with swirling pieces of paper creating a captivating visual backdrop during the finale of “Demons.”
Diddy’s Global Icon Performance
MTV honored Diddy with the Global Icon Award, and he reciprocated with an electrifying 8-minute performance. The setlist included hits like “Gotta Move On,” featuring Yung Miami, and “Last Night,” where Keyshia Cole made a guest appearance. Notably, during “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” Diddy’s son, Christian Combs, known as King Combs, took the stage to deliver Mase’s verse.
Although their publishing rights battle was recently settled, no former Bad Boy members joined the “I’ll Be Missing You” artist on stage.
Following the performance, Diddy’s eldest daughter, Chance, presented her father with the Global Icon Award. The hip-hop mogul returned to the stage, accompanied by his twin daughters, The Comb Twins, to accept the award.
In his heartfelt speech, he acknowledged Bad Boy, despite the earlier omission in his performance. He thanked his supporters, family, and business team, while promoting his upcoming album, LOVE.
However, Diddy’s performance was met with mixed reactions from some fans. One fan wrote:
“Bringing out Christian Combs, instead of Mase on your most famous Bad Boy track, tells me everything I need to know about why you finally paid those people their money, Diddy. Also, don’t do that sh*t again. If you’re not doing it with Mase, JUST DON’T.”
Upsets & Misses
Lack Luster Hip-Hop 50th Celebration
While the VMAs had their share of highlights, there were also some upsets and missed opportunities. The 50th-anniversary celebration garnered mixed reviews from fans, where one fan commented:
“Don’t get me wrong, I loved everyone they brought out for the Hip Hop 50th tribute/celebration. It’s just most of them we already saw on the BET Awards. I understand not everyone can make it, but at least change it up a bit. Show faces we haven’t seen yet like Ludacris.”
The show opened with Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. Following this, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick treated the audience to a rendition of “The Show.”
Nicki Minaj then entered, captivating the crowd with her iconic track, “Itty Bitty Piggy,” seamlessly transitioning into “Red Ruby Da Sleeze.” Lil Wayne followed, delivering an energetic rendition of “A Milli.”
LL Cool J stepped up next, kicking off with “Mama Said You Knock You Out” and concluding with “I’m Bad.” During his performance, LL introduced DMC to the stage, where he revisited RUN DMC’s hits like “Rock Box” and “Walk This Way.”
Rising Stars Left Out
Two rising stars, Coi Leray and Victoria Monét, were notably absent from the VMAs. Coi expressed her gratitude to BET for her nominations for the upcoming Hip-Hop Awards, and commented on the lack of recognition from the VMAs, writing:
“Shout out BET for my nominations!! They played fair and I love that. VMAS tried me this year but it’s all love. Numbers never gonna life. W.e. tho. Politics.”
In response, social media took to defend the rapper. One user wrote,
“Regardless of whether or not you like Coi Leray that “Players” song was literally everywhere. There’s literally a style called ‘Coi Leray Braids’. She’s all over tik tok, she’s charting constantly etc. There was no reason she didn’t get an invite tbh.”
In addition, many fans were speculating why Victoria Monét wasn’t present.
One fan wrote, “Victoria monet at the vmas but NOT performing makes no type of sense. this is going to bother me forever.” While another wrote, “The VMAs problem is it’s living off nostalgia instead of trying to be fresh. Telling Victoria Monet its too early in her story is crazy considering 10 years ago she would’ve been perfect for a pre show feature at the least.”
The “On My Mama” singer responded, explaining that her team was told it was “too early in her story” for her to perform. Monét shared to her Twitter saying:
“I see your advocation for me to have performed tonight and I’m so grateful to you!! Sincerely! My team was told it is “too early in my story” for that opportunity so we will keep working! I’m grateful for YOU, for my tour starting this Friday and for the ability to see some of my favorite people perform tonight and receive the love they so deserve!!! For me, it’s part of the story…and in Gods time.”
The spotlight of the award ceremony belonged to Taylor Swift, who clinched major accolades including “Artist of the Year,” “Album of The Year,” “Song of The Year,” and more.
However, other notable artists also secured their own victories. Ice Spice earned the title of “Best New Artist,” while SZA received recognition as “Best R&B” artist for her chart-topping track, “Shirt.” Nicki Minaj claimed the title of “Best Hip-Hop” artist, specifically for her song “Super Freaky Girl.”
2023 BET Hip Hop Awards
In the realm of award ceremonies, Cardi B and 21 Savage have taken the lead in nominations for the 2023 Hip Hop BET Awards. Impressively, both artists have garnered a total of 12 nominations each.