Shakira made history at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards by becoming the first South American artist to receive the prestigious Video Vanguard Award, USA Today reports. The Grammy-winning singer marked her return to the MTV VMAs stage after a 17-year hiatus at the Prudential Center in Newmark, New Jersey.

Shakira Shuts It Down

Shakira delivered a captivating and electric 10-minute bilingual medley of her iconic hits, including “She Wolf,” “Te Felicito” (her collaboration with Rauw Alejandro), and the record-breaking “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” with Bizarrap. Her performance was introduced by her “Hips Don’t Lie” collaborator, Wyclef Jean.

During her acceptance speech, Shakira expressed gratitude to the “amazing women” who had helped her break industry barriers while juggling multiple roles. She also extended heartfelt thanks to her two sons, Milan (9) and Sasha (7), for believing in her ability to excel in all aspects of her career.

Image Credit: Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic

As Shakira paves the way for future winners, let's look back on 4 of the most influential recipients of the 2000s, including names like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

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 Kanye West – 2015

In 2015, the artist known as Ye, formerly Kanye West, was honored with the Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. This award was presented to him by none other than Taylor Swift. This moment was particularly significant because it came six years after their infamous encounter at the 2009 MTV VMAs when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for the Best Female Video award.

During his Vanguard Award acceptance speech, Ye made a surprising announcement: his intention to run for president in 2020. This statement was notable not only for its unexpectedness but also because he eventually followed through on this promise, although he did not win the presidential election.

Mentioning his name is very polarizing these days thanks to his past antics that reached a boiling point after bringing up an entire community, but you can't deny his impact. From College Dropout to Donda, Kanye has always been ahead of his time and a showstopper.

Rihanna – 2016

In 2016, Rihanna was honored with the Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards for her outstanding contributions to the music industry. What added intrigue to the moment was the fact that Drake, her rumored boyfriend at the time, presented her with the award. Onstage, Drake took the opportunity to openly express his affection for Rihanna, even leaning in for a kiss, which Rihanna politely evaded.

Before this public display, there had been ongoing reports suggesting that the two were dating. However, in 2018, Rihanna clarified in Vogue that she and Drake were no longer friends, hinting at some discomfort with the intense attention and compliments surrounding her award.

She mentioned, “The VMAs is such a fan-focused awards show, so having that energy around me, and knowing the people who had received the award in the past, made it feel like a big deal. Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don't like too many compliments. I don't like to be put on blast.”

The best part about Rihanna winning this award is that she became even more of an icon afterward. Her influence rests on the fact that no one can duplicate her. It's also great knowing we have a Shakira Rihanna collab readily available.

Image Credit: Mike Coppola/MTV1617/Getty Images for MTV

Hype Williams – 2006

In the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, director Hype Williams was celebrated with the prestigious Vanguard Award. This recognition acknowledged his remarkable contributions to music videos, which included iconic works like Will Smith's “Gettin' Jiggy wit It,” TLC's “No Scrubs,” and Kanye West's “Gold Digger.”

Williams garnered the respect of his peers and collaborators by consistently showcasing that no one else in the directing game could compete with his work. There's a reason mainly big-name artists go to him when they need mindblowing visuals. Can you imagine a Hype Williams and Shakira video?

Nicki Minaj – 2022

In 2022, Nicki Minaj claimed the prestigious Vanguard Award. Prior to accepting this honor, the rapper graced the stage with a special medley featuring her greatest hits, marking her first return to the VMAs stage since 2018.

Nicki Minaj's victory in 2022 continued the trend of women receiving the Vanguard Award. She was recognized for her groundbreaking music videos that left an indelible mark on pop culture, including iconic hits like “Super Bass,” “Starships,” and “Anaconda.”

After Lil' Kim and Eve, Nicki confidently stepped up by putting women rappers on the map in a huge way. Hopping on songs with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Drake, she not only kept up with them but outshined some as well. You can 100% say that if it weren't for Nicki, Cardi B would either not be so big mainstream, or she wouldn't even have made it out of her last profession into the rap game. Nicki and Shakira for sure blazed a ton of trails for women artists.