VH1 Honors Hip-Hop’s Pioneers

What defines a hip-hop legend? Talent, longevity, and demanded respect. The Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City was packed with VIPs who came out to celebrate their legends this year, at the taping of “VH1 Hip Hop Honors.” Among the honorees this year were Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, A Tribe Called Quest, New Jack Swing, Whodini, and even Wild Style (celebrating hip-hop art and breakdancing).

Tracy Morgan hosted the show, decked out in a thick gold dookie chain and armed with celebratory jokes for the honorees. Celebrity guests such as the gorgeous Kerry Washington presented awards and hip-hop heavy-hitters dropped in to show their appreciation for the exalted music pioneers all evening.

This year, the awards ceremony proves that hip-hop is more than just a genre of music. It’s fashion, it’s art, and it’s an entire culture by itself. Fans, industry executives, and fellow hip-hop artists paid homage to the guests of honor for their contribution to this constantly growing culture. Artists such as Ciara, Keyshia Cole, Nelly Furtado, Timbaland, and Eve—just to name a few—performed a medley of Missy Elliott’s most famous tracks, adopting it as their own and putting a unique twist on the style of each song.

Grateful, yet proud of their accomplishments, each honoree said a few words to their fans and to the press about their journey through the music industry. Teddy Riley himself even performed to bring the masses back to a time and place where hip-hop and R&B were just beginning to find global success.

Throughout the show, fresh new artists who owe their inspiration to their successors graced the stage with musical performances that had people reminiscing about the origins of the music that changed the face of pop culture.

“VH1 Hip Hop Honors” airs tonight at 10 p.m. on VH1.

See photos from the red carpet here and from the show here.

–Rajul Punjabi