In case you missed it, we've done the work for you and gathered the most memorable moments from last night's VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens show (July 11). The event aimed to pay tribute to the trendsetting, history-making female MCs in the game—Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Kim, and Missy Elliott—and, along with a few standout moments (like Rich Homie Quan's mistake-turned-meme and Puff Daddy's maybe unintentional ignition of a Queen Bee vs. Queen Bey debate), these are the others we can't stop talking about.
Teyana Taylor KILLS Her Tribute to Lil' Kim
Though Rich Homie Quan couldn't do right by Lil Kim, not even on her birthday, Teyana Taylor made sure to show up and show out. Handpicked to participate in the Queen Bee's tribute, Taylor—dare we say—brought more energy to the stage than maybe the honoree herself. But first, it was Dej Loaf and Lil Mama who opened the set, flanked by dancers, with "Crush on You"—Loaf decked in a bright yellow wig-and-fur coat combo that gave nod to the 1996 song's colorful video and Lil Mama in pink lace lingerie that Kim, in her heyday, would've probably worn to, like, the store. But it was when Taylor emerged that everything erupted. Wearing a near-identical outfit to the one Kim rocked on that iconic promo poster for her debut album Hard Core, Taylor looked every bit Kim's twin (peep the mannerisms, movements and attitude) and commanded the stage completely solo with "No Time." But she just as easily took control of it when surrounded by a gang of men too, just as Kim used to do, on "All About the Benjamins." And if there was any doubt that she didn't receive the stamp of approval, just watch Pepa, Latifah and Missy rap along in the stands as if they're watching the real thing.
Common Gives Praise to Black Women and 'Black Lives Matter'"
Before introducing a tribute to Queen Latifah, Common took a moment to honor the Black female leaders of history and of today, made a call to society to elect more of them, and made a particularly special plea to "Queen La" herself:
"I want to take this moment to honor all the sisters who have been on the front lines in our ongoing movement for justice. Yes. I'm talking about Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Shirley Chisholm. I'm talking about the Black Lives Matter founders. Yes. And I'm also talking about everyday women. Women like Diamond Reynolds, who filmed the police killing her fiance. Who tried to calmly deescalate the deadly situation and hours later, was at her governor's mansion, demanding justice. Black women, Black women, Black women, we see you. We love you. We are with you. And we believe in your leadership. During this time, with all that's going on, we need to elect Black women as leaders and Latifah, you are the definition of a leader. Queen La', will you please be our President?"
Faith Evans Pokes Fun at Her Former Beef With Lil' Kim
Despite having told every journalist brave enough to ask over the last 20 years that there are no ill feelings between them anymore, Faith Evans made sure to drive the point home by introducing Lil Kim's tribute, herself. It was a much-respected grown woman move, but Faith was still able to use her role as the rightful wife of the late B.I.G. to take a little public jab, with a bit of humor:
"Kim's enormous skill belied her diminutive stature. She matched his wits and earned her respect. She went toe to toe with him. Shit, sometimes she went toe to toe with me. Hello!"
Michelle Obama Makes an Appearance
Like the supreme equivalent to becoming the teacher's pet, Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah were specially shouted-out by First Lady Michelle Obama. But it's not that FLOTUS doesn't care for Lil' Kim or Salt-N-Pepa, it's just that Missy and Latifah have publicly supported the White House's "Let Girls Learn" initiative, which aims to promote education for young girls around the world. That's worthy of gold star or two, isn't it? In a pre-taped video, Michelle thanked the women for their activism, empowerment and contributions. Swoon.
"I'm so proud of the two of you because through your music and your activism, you all are empowering young women around the world to believe in themselves and fulfill their boundless promise. I'm so grateful to you for your passion and your contributions to our world and I can't wait to see everything you'll continue to achieve in the years ahead."
So, Ashanti Can Rap; Who Knew?
The tributes to Missy Elliott and Salt-N-Pepa read like a who's-who of forgotten faves: Nelly Furtado reemerged, but for an all-too-brief performance of her "Get Ur Freak On (Remix)"—seriously, it was only 15 seconds; Tweet returned, but took the final notes of "Lady Marmalade" to church which, one, is a place it should never go and, two, is a song she was never featured on to begin with; and Eve looked so natural in her performances of "Hot Boyz" and the honorary "Shoop," it almost failed to feel momentous. But when Ashanti hit the stage to sing "Whatta Man," many were left wondering who would follow shortly behind her to take over the verses. Little did we know, she was going to pull double-duty, and pretty damn flawlessly.