The multiplatinum rapper, songwriter and record producer was honored with the lifetime achievement award Sunday night. The award recognizes industry pioneers who have made a notable impact on culture and entertainment.
Rhymes, 51, was introduced by comedian Marlon Wayans, who praised the rapper as a “brilliant” musical force.
“Every song this man has done, he’s been a part of other people’s hits and been stealing hits for years,” Wayans said. “If you know Busta, we are all happy for Busta in this room ‘cause everybody knows he deserves it. He’s a good brother, a great dude.”
Receiving the prestigious honor proved to be an emotional moment for the rapper. “I’m (going to) wear it on my sleeve. I do want to cry,” Rhymes said, before dabbing his eyes with a hand towel.
Delivering a lengthy acceptance speech, the “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check” rapper attributed part of his success to his Black cultural heritage.
“A lot of greatness from our people and our culture is by default ‘cause it’s just the magic that we have,” Rhymes said. “I just am grateful (for) the blessing that has been bestowed upon me and this gift that I have been given, and this fire that continues to burn as a passion in my soul.”
Rhymes added: “It’s just me trying to do my duty to continue to advance the culture and continue to contribute in a significant way. I see so many people in here that I have known and grown with for a long time. You’re watching me grow and I love y’all, and I know y’all love me.”
Watch the full speech below:
Rhymes also thanked his peers in the hip-hop community and poked fun at his over-affectionate demeanor.
“I’m a real giver of love,” he said. “Sometimes, I know I might overwhelm y’all. I want to hug you, and I won’t let you go. I’ll shake your hand tight. I speak to you from a place (that) I really want you to know I mean what I’m saying.”
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An energetic tribute to Rhymes followed — the MC teamed up with Spliff Star for “Ante Up Remix”, “Scenario,” “Look At Me Now” and “I Know What You Want,” before a long list of A-listers jumped in: Scar Lip with “This Is New York,” Coi Leray with “Players” and BIA with “Beach Ball,” among them.
Halfway through the performance, Rhymes shifted gears to celebrate dancehall alongside Dexta Daps (“Shabba Madda Pot”), Spice (“So Mi Like It”), Skillibeng (“Whap Whap”) and Cutty Ranks with “A Who Seh Me Dun (Wait Deh Man).”
Contributing: Maria Sherman, The Associated Press