Nicki Minaj honored Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson in a mental health-focused speech as she accepted the Video Vanguard prize at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
The rapper thanked many people who influenced her career and mourned the two late stars as musicians who passed away after struggling to deal with their fame.
“I wrote this down, I don’t know why y’all but this is what this was in my spirit to say, I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here,” she said from the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
“I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish people took mental health seriously even for the people who you think have the perfect lives.”
She also expressed similar sentiments about murdered rappers Pop Smoke and Nipsey Hussle and Juice WRLD, who died following a drug overdose.
The “Starships” hitmaker also praised those who had inspired her and furthered her career, including Lil Wayne, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Slick Rick, and Doug E. Fresh, as well as the likes of Kanye West, Beyoncé, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Britney Spears, and Rihanna.
In her speech, Nicki also thanked her fans, known as the Barbz, and gave a shout-out to her 22-month-old son, nicknamed Papa Bear.
She added: “To all the artists, producers, and writers who have contributed to any of my projects, also to all the people who allow me to feature on their work… and I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you, I don’t take that for granted. Thank you for giving me a chance to show my skills.”
The star performed a medley of her hits during the show, including “Roman’s Revenge,” “Beez in the Trap,” “Chun-Li,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Super Bass,” and “Anaconda.”