Famed Queens rapper Nicki Minaj was honored with the Video Vanguard Award during MTV’s Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center Sunday for her illustrious career spanning over a decade.
The Trinidadian-born rap mogul entertained the audience with a nine-minute performance of her greatest hits before taking the stage to accept her award. Her candid acceptance speech delivered a powerful message to her fans and thanked the greats whose legacies live on through her.
“I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here,” she said. “I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish Pop Smoke and Juice Wrld and Nipsey Hussle were here. R.I.P. Daddy, my cousin Richard, and my business manager Angela, who I never got to say ‘rest in peace’ to publicly.”
She continued by addressing mental health and alluded to how mental illness affects those who seemingly have it all. “I wish that people took mental health seriously — even for the people that you think have the perfect lives.”
In 2011, Minaj revealed that she suffered from depression and contemplated suicide. She also decided to take a break after the release of her 2018 Queen album – a break she said was “soooo needed.”
“I kept having doors slammed in my face. I felt like nothing was working,” she said in a Cosmo interview. I had moved out on my own, and here I was thinking I’d have to go home. It was just one dead end after another. At one point, I was, like, ‘What would happen if I just didn’t wake up?’ That’s how I felt. Like maybe I should just take my life?’”
Before leaving the stage, Nicki took time to thank her influences, including Kanye West, Beyoncé, Madonna, Eminem, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Drake. She later tweeted: “#VMAs #NickiMinajVanguard #NickiVMAs love you.”