A Confusing New Jersey Medley Closes 2019 VMAs

It took nearly 40 years for the Video Music Awards to settle on Newark, New Jersey, as its location. In honor of this year’s award show home, the powers-that-be chose to honor the state by collecting an odd assortment of Jersey’s most iconic rappers — Naughty by Nature, Queen Latifah, Redman, Fetty Wap, and Wyclef Jean — to deliver the finale for this year’s show.

To be transparent, I was born and raised in the middling state of New Jersey and even I’m bewildered by this hodgepodge of musicians hailing from three different eras of hip-hop closing out the same show where Lil Nas X, Shawn Mendes, and Normani performed. Alone, they’ve all contributed to the fabric of hip-hop, but together in 2019 it looks like someone gave their inebriated uncle the aux cord at a Labor Day BBQ in Asbury Park.

Naughty By Nature performed “O.P.P.” to a room full of people that weren’t born when it was a hit. Fetty Wap ran through “Trap Queen” for a crowd that was definitely alive and thriving when the Paterson rapper was beginning his now-legendary 2014-2015 run. Then Wyclef started walking on his hands. It was a mixed, chaotic, but ultimately worthwhile bag. All it was missing was Zach Braff DJing a quick Garden State soundtrack set.


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