Missy Elliott Promises She Won't Cry While Receiving VMAs Video Vanguard Award After Intro from 'Sis' Cardi B

Missy Elliott, who also performed at the 2019 VMAs, joined the Vanguard Award recipient list alongside Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Kanye West

Lose control — Missy Elliott just received the Video Vanguard Award.

On Monday night, the 48-year-old hip hop legend accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.

In a “grateful” and “humbled” acceptance speech, Elliott raved about her collaborators and other artists nearly as much as many other music superstars had been gushing about her before she received the award. (Among the luminaries singing her praises in a pre-taped segment were Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Lizzo and Pharrell.)

“I promised I wouldn’t cry this time because I cry at every awards. But this Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award means so much to me,” Elliott began her speech, after performing a medley of some of her biggest hits over the years, including “Past That Dutch,” Work It” and “Lose Control.”

“I’ve worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought that I would be standing up here receiving this award, so it means so much to me,” Elliott said in her speech. “I promise y’all, it don’t go unnoticed the support and love you’d showed to me over the years.”

She shouted-out fellow performers including Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Jackson and Busta Rhymes.

“Lastly, I want to dedicate this to the dance community all around the world. Because when you get on the stage with these artists … y’all are not just props. Y’all are the beat to the heart,” Elliott said.

In a fun twist, Elliott was joined onstage for part of her performance by Alyson Stoner, who first made a name for herself as a young dancer in the “Work It” video.)

Check out PEOPLE’s full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.

Missy Elliott
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Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott performing at the 2019 MTV VMAs. Noam Galai/Getty
Missy Elliott speech VMAs
Missy Elliott receiving the Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV VMAs. MTV

Introducing Elliott as a “living legend,” Cardi B had high praise of her own.

“Nobody deserves to be in the Video Vanguard more than Missy,” she said. “She changed the music video artform completely with her style, humor and unforgettable creativity.”

“Missy has inspired countless women to find their own voice and stand up for themselves,” Cardi said, adding, “She’s a voice we need.” (“Cardi, sis, thank y’all for such an intro,” Elliott finished her own speech afterward.)

Her award comes just days after Elliott dropped Iconology, her first EP since two-time platinum The Cookbook in 2005.

On its first track “Throw It Back,” she refers to her collection of VMA awards with the lyrics, “Not many can do what I do / So many VMAs that I could live on the moon.” Elliott has racked up seven Moon Person awards and has been nominated for 41 since the start of her career.

“Let’s #ThrowItBack to a time when music just felt good and made us want to dance! Sincerely, Dr. Melissa ‘Missy’ Elliott,” she tweeted ahead of the EP’s release.

When announcing that Elliott would receive the award earlier this year, Bruce Gillmer, Viacom’s head of music and music talent said: “Missy’s impact on the music landscape is indelible. Her creative vision across production, performance and songwriting is unmatched.”

She’s the only female rapper to be nominated twice for the top video of the year award — in 2001 for “Get Ur Freak On” and in 2003 for “Work It.” She won the award in 2003, while “Lady Marmalade,” which Elliott co-produced, wrote and is featured on, took the prize in 2001.

Elliott is the only female rapper to have six studio albums certified platinum. She’s also written and produced for many other artists and has guested on hits like Ciara’s “1, 2 Step.” In recent years, she’s lent her vocals on tracks featured on Ariana Grande’s Sweetener, Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You and Fifth Harmony’s 7/27.

Missy Elliott
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Earlier this year, Elliott became the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Jennifer Lopez — who won the Video Vanguard Award last year — said Elliott was a “great” choice for the top prize.

“Missy’s a great one, ’cause her videos were always so cutting-edge,” she said.

The Vanguard award — which was first presented to David Bowie, The Beatles and Richard Lester in 1984 — was renamed in 1991 in honor of Michael Jackson, who received the award in 1988 (though his connection to it has become controversial in light of the resurfaced sexual abuse allegations against him, which he denied.)

Past honorees include Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Rihanna and Pink.

The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards are airing live from Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.

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