BIPOC Voices, Entertainment, Mental Health, Music

Nicki Minaj is the recipient of the 2022 Video Vanguard Award

The rapper called for better mental health programs.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Nov 5, 2022

It feels like yesterday when some of us then-teenagers — now Millennials — recited the words to “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, celebrating the Trinidad & Tobago-born rapper for bringing in new life to the female rap game. After that, the rapper came out with “Anaconda,” “Starships,” “Beez in the Trap,” “Roman’s Revenge,” and “Moment 4 Life.” But ever since 2018, at least for my friend group, the rapper slowly started falling out of our top 10 artists as we looked to newer rappers on the scene. That is until she won her her 5th Video Vanguard Award.


The 17-time VMA nominee rapper accepted the 2022 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, was called the “reigning queen of hip-hop,” and performed on stage for the first time since 2018, taking us through her greatest hits over the years, to end with a live rendition of her newly released single, “Super Freaky Girl.” Although her performances are always iconic, this one not being an exception, the key thing that stood out to me and the majority of the media was her determination for better mental health programs.



“I never ever in my life have written a speech and today I jotted something down on my phone,” Minaj began, crediting her success to her greatest mentors and inspiration: Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Slick Rick, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Eminem and Rihanna. “I have to thank Drizzy for always saying the things I need to hear to get back in the game,” she said in relation to close friend Drake and the Young Money family.


Continuing, she said, “I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here. I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish people took mental health seriously, even for the people who you think have perfect lives. I wish Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD and Nipsey Hussle were here.”


The Grammy-nominated rapper really wanted the audience to understand that whether you are in the spotlight or live under the radar, mental health is serious, and something that many of us learned first-hand during the pandemic, as we lost friendships, loved ones, jobs, homes, and our own health. She is looking to pop culture to establish better programming and encourage a proactive posture that meets people not only where they are at, but before they get to that point. And that we think is admirable.


Answering the call for mental health resources, Megan Thee Stallion launched a website full of them, and J Balvin is releasing a bilingual mental health app.


Photo via Kevin Mazur/Getty Images