Theo Wargo/Getty Images for VH1VH1 Hip-Hop Honors: All Hail The Queens delivered an epic night of performances that not only honored the ladies in hip-hop, but recognized and addressed the racial tensions affecting the nation.
Before the official festivities began, the show opened on a somber note with #BlackLivesMatter founders Alicia Garza and Darnell Moore addressing criticism about their campaign, which was recently called “inherently racist” by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “This movement is grounded in black people’s dignity, justice and freedom. It’s about love, not violence,” explained Garza.
Garza sentiments were echoed throughout the night, as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim and Salt-N-Pepa made mention of the racial and social injustices affecting their community as they all honored their sisters in hip-hop.
Latifah — who surprisngly performed most of her own tributes, including Chicago’s “When You’re Good to Mama,” “Come Into My House,” and “Ladies First” — was later accompanied by Da Brat, Rah Digga, Monie Love and Lady of Rage, who helped Latifah out with an array of songs during the night.
The Newark native also had a message about current events. “Listen, we all know the world, that our world, is really tense right now,” said Latifah. “I’m hoping that we can somehow manage to channel all of these emotions that we have in a positive way.”
Other performances that rocked the star-studded night included Eve, Nelly Furtado, Trina, Remy Ma, Trina and Lil’ Mo, who all paid tribute to Missy Elliott with a medley of hits that included “Work It,” “Get Ur Freak On” and “Hot Boyz.” KeKe Palmer, Ashanti and Dreezy had the crowd cheering with their tribute to Salt-N-Pepa by singing the group’s 1993 hit, “Whatta Man,” while Lil Mama, Teyana Taylor, French Montana and The Lox took to the stage to pay tribute to Lil Kim with such hits as “Crush On You,” “No Time,” and “All About the Benjamins.”
Yet it was Diddy‘s surprise appearance to honor Kim that ultimately brought the crowd to its feet. “I flew in here tonight to honor my sister, Lil’ Kim,” he began. “The way you walk, the way you talk. You always pushed the envelope. There’s only one Queen Bee,” Diddy added. he also acknowledged that it was Lil Kim’s birthday and had a cake brought out.
As the show came to a close, Common offered one of the final speeches which not only addressed the honorees, but reiterated the themes for the night; progress, positivity, justice and the recognition of women.
“I also want to take this moment to honor all the sisters who have been on the front lines in our ongoing movement for justice,” said Common. “And I’m also talking about everyday women. Women like Diamond Reynolds, who filmed the police killing [Philando Castile]. Who tried to calmly deescalate the deadly situation and hours later, was at her governor’s mansion, demanding justice. Black women, black women, black women. We see you, we love you, we are with you and we believe in your leadership.”
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.