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LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Lil Wayne & More Celebrate 50 Years Of Hip-Hop With All-Star Tribute at 2023 VMAs

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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV

One of the highlights of the 2023 MTV VMAs was the Hip Hop 50th anniversary tribute performance. Held at New Jersey’s Prudential Center, hip-hop legends including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, and Grand Master Flash took the audience on a nostalgic journey.

Kicking off the tribute, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five set the stage with their groundbreaking hit, “The Message.” Slick Rick then joined Doug E. Fresh for an electrifying rendition of “The Show.” Nicki Minaj — who served as the night’s emcee, followed with a mixtape classic, “Itty Bitty Piggy,” followed by her recent hit, “Red Ruby Da Sleeze.”

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Lil Wayne — wearing a black-hooded jacket — commanded the stage next, delivering an energetic performance of “A Milli.” LL Cool J took everyone back to the ’80s with hits like “I’m Bad” and “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Finally, DMC joined forces with the other performers for a medley of Run-DMC classics, including the timeless “Walk This Way.”

DMC’s appearance marked his first VMAs performance since Run-DMC’s groundbreaking collaboration with Aerosmith on “Walk This Way” in 1987. It was also LL Cool J’s return to the VMAs stage after over 25 years. 

Earlier in the evening, Lil Wayne made a boastful return to the VMAs stage with his latest single “Kat Food,” marking his first performance at the event in over a decade. Meanwhile, Minaj, who was up for six VMAs this year and won best R&B for “Super Freaky Girl,” performed the world premiere of her newest single, “Last Time I Saw You.” Additionally, she unveiled a brand-new single from her highly anticipated Pink Friday 2 album during the event.

The 2023 VMAs are part of a series of tributes celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. In February, the Grammys showcased a star-studded medley featuring hip-hop pioneers from Public Enemy to Glorilla. August saw Run-DMC, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and Ice Cube headlining Mass Appeal’s concert at Yankee Stadium.

Watch the medley below. 

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SourceMTV VMAs
ViaTHR
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