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Thursday, August 29, 2019

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The incomparable career of Missy Elliott, the rapper-singer-songwriter-producer-dancer whose music videos have moved the needle over the last two decades, was honored at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, where Taylor Swift also took center stage with her gay pride anthem, “You Need to Calm Down.”

Elliott earned the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and brought her colorful, eccentric and groundbreaking music videos to life, from “Work It” to “Lose Control,” on Monday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

She even sported the inflated trash bag she wore with confidence and charisma in the video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” in 1997 during the performance.

“I’ve worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought I would be standing up here receiving this award,” Elliott said.

The 48-year-old game-changer also dedicated her award to the dance community and said her music video inspirations included Janet Jackson, Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Busta Rhymes.

She also honored the late R&B icon Aaliyah, whom she was close to and collaborated with, during her acceptance speech. The 18th anniversary of Aaliyah’s death was Sunday.

“Aaliyah, I love you. We miss you,” Elliott said.

The VMAs, which took place in New Jersey for the first time, closed with a superb performance by artists who are from the Garden State — including Queen Latifah, Redman, Wyclef Jean, Naughty by Nature and Fetty Wap. Rapper-actor Ice-T, who has loudly represented the West Coast, introduced the performance and reminded the audience that he was born in Newark.

Swift won three honors, tying with Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish for most wins of the night. Grande, named artist of the year, and Eilish, who won best new artist, didn’t attend the VMAs. BTS also didn’t attend the show, hosted by comedian and actor Sebastian Maniscalco, but they won two honors: best group and best K-pop.

Other winners included Cardi B, who took home best hip-hop for “Money”; Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” won best pop; “Senorita,” which Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello performed during the show, won best collaboration and best cinematography; and the Chainsmokers and Bebe Rexha’s “Call You Mine” won best dance.

Megan the Stallion, who performed during the pre-show, won best power anthem with her new hit, “Hot Girl Summer,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj.

Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road,” the longest-running No. 1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, won song of the year and best direction.

“This is my first award ever,” the 20-year-old newcomer said.