2023 Video Music Awards reveals all-star hip hop finale

A select group of MTV’s most celebrated artists team for show-stopping finale

MTV has teamed with Bacardi to reveal an all-star 2023 Video Music Awards (VMAs) finale performance featuring an iconic lineup of some of MTV’s most celebrated artists, including DMC, Doug E. Fresh, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and LL Cool J, who join previously announced performers Lil Wayne and show emcee Nicki Minaj, for a can’t-miss tribute to hip hop’s 50th anniversary, airing live from New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Tuesday, September 12th at 8 pm ET/PT.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is a legendary hip hop icon who will make a triumphant return to MTV’s stage for the first time in 35+ years after Run DMC’s groundbreaking, genre-bending performance of “Walk This Way” alongside Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, paving the way for future VMAs cross-genre collaborations. The first rap group on MTV was also the first to grace the cover of Rolling Stone and to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for revolutionizing the genre by lending rock and rap elements with their hard-hitting beats and no-nonsense rhymes. With 40 million record sales and a half billion song streams, their eponymous album, Run DMC, marked a turning point in hip hop, becoming the first rap album to earn a gold certification. Subsequently Raising Hell earned multi-platinum status and is still regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. DMC is a co-founder of The Felix Organization, an Advisory Board Member for Hip Hop Public Health and has received numerous awards for his philanthropic endeavors.

Known as the Human Beatbox, Doug E. Fresh is credited for his beatboxing techniques and innovations, setting the standard for future generations by creating complex rhythms and sounds with his mouth, which was groundbreaking and influential in the development of hip hop music. Beyond music, he serves as an ambassador for hip hop, championing the culture and positive aspects, and an advocate for education, using his platform to inspire young people.

Hip hip’s groundbreaking innovators Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will take the VMAs’ stage for the first time ever for this historic finale performance. The first rap group to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, they fundamentally elevated the ways hip hop was performed and experienced; Grandmaster Flash pioneered the foundation for modern DJing. The group’s seminal track “The Message” was a game-changing moment in the genre with its socially conscious lyrics and vivid storytelling.

1997 Video Vanguard Award recipient LL Cool J returns to the VMAs stage to perform for the first time in 25+ years after serving as one of the show’s emcees last year. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and VMAs winner for Best Rap in 1991 was the first hip hop artist to amass 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums. He was also the first rapper to earn the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor and received his star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016. Founder of Rock The Bells, his global platform has become the preeminent voice for timeless hip hop, and paves the path from genre icons to those inspired by their groundbreaking influences.

Five-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum global music icon Lil Wayne returns to the VMAs stage for the first time in more than a decade where he will perform his new single, “Kat Food,” live for the very first time. With a discography highlighted by over 120 million records sold worldwide including 26 million albums, Lil Wayne has cemented his legacy as one of the best-selling artists in history and one of the most influential artists in hip hop. In 2022, Lil Wayne earned his first diamond certification from the RIAA with his generational smash hit “Lollipop” featuring Static Major. The 14x nominee will once again compete in the Best Hip Hop category for the coveted Moon Person, an award he first won in 2008.

Four-time Best Hip Hop award winner Nicki Minaj is set for a triumphant return to the MTV stage, reprising her dual role as performer and show emcee. For the second consecutive year, Minaj will announce the show’s star-studded lineup of performers, presenters and winners and stun fans with a world premiere of her newest single, “Last Time I Saw You.” Last year, the 6x winner of the VMAs commanded the event as emcee, performer, winner of Best Hip Hop, plus recipient of the coveted Video Vanguard Award. Minaj boasts an impressive 25 overall VMAs nominations, including six nods this year. She’s notably nominated once again for Best Hip Hop, a category she first won 12 years ago and another three times thereafter in 2015, 2018, and 2022. This year, her other five nominations include the sought-after categories of Video of the Year and Artist of the Year.

These artists join the mega list of performers set to play the show, including Fall Out Boy, Metro Boomin with Future, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Swae Lee & Nav, Peso Pluma, Olivia Rodrigo, Demi Lovato, Karol G, Måneskin, Stray Kids, Lil Wayne, Anitta, Doja Cat, Kelsea Ballerini, and Tomorrow X Together. Bebe Rexha, Charli D’Amelio, Coco Jones, Dixie D’Amelio, Emily Ratajkowski, French Montana, GloRilla, Ice Spice, Jared Leto, Madelyn Cline, Rita Ora and Sabrina Carpenter are among the first round of presenters. Additionally, the lineup for the Extended Play Stage presented by Doritos includes Kaliii, Reneé Rapp and The Warning.

With the addition of Social Categories, Taylor Swift still leads the nominations with 11, followed by Sza with eight, Blackpink, Doja Cat, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo with six, Kim Petras and Sam Smith with five each, Beyoncé, Diddy, Drake, Ice Spice, Karol G, Metro Boomin, Shakira and Tomorrow X Together with four apiece.

Legendary mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs will accept the prestigious Global Icon Award, performing live for the first time since 2005. Global sensation Shakira will receive MTV’s coveted Video Vanguard Award, presented by Toyota, and perform live for the first time since 2006. Nicki Minaj reprises her dual role as emcee and performer.

The 2023 VMAs Pre-Show airs live from 6:30 until 8 pm ET/PT on MTV, MTV2, CMT, and Logo, hosted by award-winning rap star Saweetie with Nessa, Dometi Pongo and Kevan Kenney.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com