Mary J. Blige made an appearance at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, where she was presented with the 2022 Icon Award. And the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” was given her trophy by another larger-than-life icon: Janet Jackson.
“Mary J. Blige represents truth,” said the Rhythm Nation 1814 artist. “Her work has always given us comfort because she sings me; she sings you.” And then Jackson proceeded to weave together lyrics from a few of Blige’s classics like “My Life,” “Just Fine,” and “No More Drama” into a brief poem showing how the R&B songstress’ music speaks to anyone. “Mary has made a commitment to her fans to always be her authentic self,” Jackson continued. “Now that… that’s real love.”
Blige then took the stage, holding hands with her longtime friend and the show’s host, Diddy. “I’m in a dream right now,” she said as she received her award and named Miss Jackson as one of her own “biggest inspirations growing up.”
She spoke on the importance of Diddy and late music executive André Harrell signing her to Uptown Records in 1991 and making her the voice of so many young inner-city girls dealing with self-love, heartbreak, and everything else coming-of-age.
“What an icon means to me is overcoming obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable and be widely admired for having influence over a multitude of people, and that is what I’ve always represented… I was ghetto fabulous, and I still am,” Blige joked. “So ghetto, so fabulous,” she added, “and people were threatened by that.”
“The message in my music has always been that we are not alone in our struggles. And I’m not alone now,” she continued. “For so long, I was searching for a real love, but I finally found my real love. And that real love is me.”
Watch the video above to see Mary J. Blige’s full acceptance speech from the 2022 Billboard Music Awards Show.