MTV has announced that it will finally recognize rapper, producer, songwriter, and all-around visionary Missy Elliott by awarding her the Video Vanguard Award at the 36th annual Video Music Awards on Aug. 26. You might be surprised, given the revelations of Leaving Neverland and the subsequent reckoning, to learn that the award continues to be named after Michael Jackson: Its full name is still the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
Though the prize was known simply as the Video Vanguard Award back when it was given to David Bowie, Richard Lester, and the Beatles at the inaugural VMAs in 1984, MTV renamed its lifetime achievement award in honor of Michael Jackson in 1991, acknowledging the Prince of Pop’s contributions to the music video format. But after 28 years and more than enough reason to reconsider Jackson’s royal legacy, maybe it’s time to rename it after another video innovator, someone who inarguably also breathed new life and creativity into the form.
Someone like Missy Elliott.
Elliott will be the first female rapper to win the award after being mysteriously passed over for years while it has gone instead to far less influential artists in the format, such as Pink. Elliott has continuously given us some of the most groundbreaking and influential video masterpieces of her generation, from her 1997 breakthrough “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” to “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” “Gossip Folks,” and “WTF (Where They From).” Her frequent collaborator, Hype Williams, won the Video Vanguard Award in 2006.
Elliott has already racked up five Grammy Awards, was recently the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received the VMAs’ Video of the Year awards in 2001 and 2003. Just give her a Nobel Prize already. Or rename this one after her.