Nicki Minaj will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, airing live from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. She is also set to perform on the show for the first time since 2018.
Minaj will be the first Video Vanguard recipient since another female rapper, Missy Elliott, was honored in 2019. The award wasn’t presented in the last two years, due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Minaj is the fourth rapper to receive the honor, following LL Cool J (1997), Kanye West (2015) and Elliott. In addition, Beastie Boys, which started out as a rap trio before veering into alternative, were honored in 1998.
Interestingly, of the nine Video Vanguard honorees since 2010, seven have been women – Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Pink, Jennifer Lopez, Elliott and Minaj. The only male honorees in this time frame are Justin Timberlake and West.
“Nicki has broken barriers for women in hip-hop with her versatility and creative artistry,” Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming & events, Paramount and chief content officer, music, Paramount+, said in a statement. “She has shifted the music industry and cemented her status as a global superstar with her crossover appeal, genre-defying style and continuing to be unapologetically ‘Nicki’.”
Minaj is a VMA nominee this year for best hip-hop for “Do We Have a Problem” featuring Lil Baby. Minaj has won three times in that category, which puts her in a tie with Drake for the most wins in the category. If she wins again this year, she’ll take the lead outright.
Minaj’s wins in that category are for “Super Bass” (2011), “Anaconda” (2015) and “Chun-Li” (2018). Her other wins are for “Starships” (2012, best female video) and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer,” on which she and Ty Dolla Sign were featured (2019, best power anthem).
Minaj made her VMAs debut in 2010 – but on the “pre-show,” not on the main telecast. She and will.i.am performed their hit collab “Check It Out.”
Minaj made her debut on the main telecast in 2012, rapping a surprise verse on Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.” She became a VMAs mainstay in 2014, and performed on five consecutive telecasts. In those years, she teamed with Ariana Grande and Jessie J (“Bang Bang,” 2014), Usher (“She Came to Give It to U,” 2014), Taylor Swift (“The Night Is Still Young” and “Bad Blood,” 2015), Grande again (“Side to Side,” 2016), and Katy Perry (“Swish Swish,” 2017). Minaj’s most recent VMAs appearance, in 2018, consisted of a medley of four songs from her then-current album, Queen. She performed live from the PATH World Trade Center station.
Minaj’s next single, “Super Freaky Girl” will be released on Aug. 12.
Minaj has yet to win a Grammy Award, despite 10 nominations dating back to 2015.
Minaj has amassed 20 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including a pair of No. 1 hits, both in 2020 – Doja Cat’s “Say So” (on which she was featured) and “Trollz,” a collab with 6ix9ine. Her first two studio albums, Pink Friday and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, both reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Minaj’s two subsequent studio albums, The Pinkprint and Queen, both reached No. 2, as did a mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty.
In her personal life, Minaj, 39, has known both joy and tragedy in the past two years. She gave birth to her first child in September 2020. In February 2021, her father, Robert Maraj, 64, was killed in a hit-and-run while crossing a street in Mineola, N.Y.
Jack Harlow, Kendrick Lamar and Lil Nas X are this year’s leading VMA nominees with seven nods each. These three hip-hop stars are followed closely by Doja Cat (the year’s top female nominee) and Harry Styles, each of whom received six nods. Billie Eilish, Drake, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd received five nods each. BTS is the most nominated group or duo, with four nods. The full list of nominations can be found here.
Nominations for group of the year and song of summer, both of which are social categories, will be announced soon.
Fans can vote for their favorites across 22 gender-neutral categories by visiting vote.mtv.com through Friday, Aug. 19. Voting for best new artist remains active into the show.
Gillmer and Den of Thieves co-founder Jesse Ignjatovic are executive producers; Barb Bialkowski is co-executive producer. Alicia Portugal and Jackie Barba serve as executives in charge of production. Wendy Plaut is executive in charge of celebrity talent. Lisa Lauricella is music talent executive.