Ah, the VMAs. Home to some of the most notable moments in music history, ever since its inception in 1984. From Madonna grinding on stage in a wedding dress to whatever the hell was in the alcohol in 2009, something always goes down. Ahead of this year’s ceremony on August 28, let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some of the most legendary moments of Video Music Awards’ past, shall we?
1. Snoop Dogg turns himself into authorities
If you didn’t know, Snoop was wanted by police on account of a murder charge in 1993 due to the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Philip Woldermariam, a rival gang member of his. Snoop claimed the shooting was in self-defense (and later, it was found out that Woldermariam was actually killed by Snoop’s bodyguard).
Having already negotiated surrender through his attorneys, detectives arrived at the 1993 VMAs to seize the rapper after he announced the winner in the R&B category, but he “eluded” them. Later that night, however, Snoop arrived to authorities to turn himself in, still in his red carpet wear.
2. Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” performance
While MJ’s probably most popular “shocking moment” at the VMAs was his kiss with then-wife Lisa Marie Presley, his 1995 performance of “Dangerous” goes down in history as one of his greatest. Of course, the King of Pop has tons of those to choose from, but this one for MTV further cemented his status of a hit-making performance machine, over 30 years into his career.
3. The last public appearance of Tupac Shakur
I know, I know. This one is sad. One of the biggest tragedies in music, Tupac Shakur was assassinated in September of 1996. Many deem this as a terrible result of the brutal East/West war going on in rap, as well as a catalyst to the assassination of The Notorious B.I.G. a few months later. Tupac’s VMA appearance, just 9 days earlier, marked his last public appearance. R.I.P.
4. Brandy and Monica performing “The Boy is Mine”
Though the two stars are all good now—and had a civil, (yet somewhat awkward) Verzuz battle to prove it—that was definitely not the case 20 years ago. Details are still murky about the rivalry between the two, but it was clear from this performance that they weren’t homegirls.
The two stars, then 18 and 17 in 1998, initially claimed their feud was manufactured. In reality, Monica and Brandy were eager to release a (bangin’) song together. People love to see starlets have beef, and there’s a commonly incorrect notion that there must only be one in the end. Whether or not they came to blows moments before the performance, which was denied by reps, and is still unknown, the tension has never ceased to exist.
5. Lil’ Kim’s 1999 red carpet look
One word: Iconic. Lil’ Kim is definitely no stranger to being iconic, especially at the VMAs. For instance, in 2006, she was famously escorted onstage in a prison jumpsuit to present an award, paying homage to having been released from jail a few months prior. But her 1999 outfit takes the cake.
The purple jumpsuit, complete with matching hair, caught everyone’s attention on the red carpet. Here’s how the story goes: Missy Elliott used to tell a joke that Lil’ Kim’s chest was always popping out on stage, and that she should just walk outside with her chest out. A lightbulb went off in her stylist’s head, and the rest is history. I mean, those shoes. (Mary J. Blige was not happy, but Diana Ross saw the vision.)
6. Janet Jackson’s tribute to Michael Jackson
When does Janet not give legendary performances? Her 1993 performance of “If” at the awards show comes to mind, but this one takes the cake. Paying tribute to her late brother’s passing that June, Ms. Jackson took the stage to do what she did best, giving us a timeless and emotional medley of MJ’s classics in 2009.
7. Beyoncé reveals her pregnancy
We all know that Bey has had her share of historic VMA moments, from her “Single Ladies” performance, to the Kanye thing, and her Lemonade and Video Vanguard medleys. This 2011 one, however, is the moment that always sticks out to me.
Rumors had been swirling around that night of Beyoncé’s pregnancy. A lot of people, especially on the internet (Twitter, I remember, was in disbelief), were either reporting or denying it, as if they knew her personally. But, after bringing the house down with a rendition of the very vocally taxing “Love on Top,” Beyoncé famously dropped her mic and undid her sparkly tuxedo jacket, smiling and rubbing her baby-to-be.
The crowd went bananas, those nearest to Jay-Z congratulating him as well. It was an adorable moment.
What will be happening this year? Who knows. One thing we do know, however, is that the opportunities are endless.
BTW: Remember when Yo! MTV Raps was supposed to come back? What’s up MTV? Are you going to bless us or not?
Photo via Jeff Kravitz/Getty