Urban One Honors aired on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last night commemorating 40 years of radio. In 1980, Cathy Hughes started Radio One, which has now grown to Urban One, a network of TV and radio stations, as well as a cannon of digital websites, including our own. With a focus on what Ms. Hughes has accomplished during the past four decades, it’s no surprise she, too, wanted to pay it forward and recognize other women pioneers in the media and entertainment industry at the annual event. One such woman was Missy Elliott, who was presented with the Music Innovation Award during the ceremony. What made the Grammy Award-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer’s honor all the more special is that fellow women rappers Lil Kim and Da Brat presented the award to Missy.
While reflecting on her experience witnessing the 48-year-old Virginia native’s success as a fellow artist and friend, Lil Kim shared, “I’m different. I gravitate toward things that are different, to people that are different, and you are different in a beautiful way. When I looked at you I always saw talent, beauty, and love. Everything inside of you just said, ‘Dag, I wanna be her friend,’ but I am proud to call you my sister.”
In accepting the award, Missy Elliott became overwhelmed and was even comforted by Da Brat and Lil Kim at one point in an emotional moment that was a true testament to their sisterhood. Missy, who has battled Grave’s Disease for many years, spoke to the temptation to give up when her health took a turn for the worse.
“I was sick. I couldn’t even hold a pen to write,” Missy said through tears. “It was so much to say give up, but as I stand here with all of you, I thank you because there is so much talent in this room. Your energy and everything about us — I want y’all to know that we are special. Black people, we are special, understand that. We have to know that.”
In true Missy form, she began cracking jokes about the innovation of the Black community, like how we can take a container half-full of ketchup and make it a whole one. And even our ability to stomp, clap, bop our heads and sing at the same time on beat. “The next time y’all go to church, understand the kind of rhythm we got, she joked before turning serious again.
“I want y’all to know how special we are,” Missy said in closing. “Every one of you, not just the ones who are getting awards, every one of you. This room is full of talent.”
Catch reruns of Urban One Honors on TV One.