New Jersey’s finest hip-hop artists commanded the stage at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors Monday night. After a six-year hiatus, the show has finally returned, and was dedicated entirely to female rappers, dubbed “All Hail the Queens.” The annual television special honored Jersey girls Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Lil’ Kim, along with Salt-N-Pepa and DJ Spinderella.
Newark-born Queen Latifah performed a retrospective of her work, alongside fellow Newark rapper Rah Digga, as well as Monie Love, The Lady of Rage, Yo-Yo and Da Brat, and she closed out the show with her 1993 Grammy-winning song “U.N.I.T.Y.”
She also gave a passionate speech about racism, saying, “Listen, we all know that the world and our world is really tense right now. I don’t care how much money or things I have … If I go outside and try to hail a cab and he passes me for the white woman standing right there, that racism is still alive and kicking. And we have to change that.”
The show’s host Eve, along with Nelly Furtado, Trina, Remy Ma and Lil’ Mo, opened the show with one of two tributes to Kinnelon’s Missy Elliott.
Newark native Faith Evans, who is the former wife of the Notorious B.I.G., introduced the tribute to Alpine resident Lil’ Kim, which starred Lil Mama, Teyana Taylor, The Lox and French Montana. Puff Daddy made a surprise appearance to sing Happy Birthday to the “Queen Bee.”
First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a heartfelt speech to Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott in a prerecorded message.
She said, “Through your music and activism, including your support of the Let Girls Learn initiative, you all are encouraging young women all over the world to believe in themselves. I’m so grateful for your passion and your contributions to our world and I can’t what to see what you achieve in the years ahead.”