Drake may have been stuck in traffic to accept his best hip-hop video award for “Hotline Bling,” but he was at the VMAs in time to present the Video Vanguard Award to his dear friend Rihanna at the end of the night.
When the 29-year-old rapper took the stage he bared his soul to the singer. Drake recalled the first time he met Rihanna, who he referred to as Robyn Fenty, back in 2005. She was first becoming big for her song “Pon De Replay,” while he was just “a kid who played background music at a restaurant” where people ate pasta.
“She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old,” said Drake. “She’s one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life, I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me.”
Drake complimented Rihanna for making it in the industry for the past 11 years and continuing to surpass the competition by staying true to herself and “still being the same girl from Barbados” he met all those years ago.
Here’s his hearfelt speech introducing Rihanna in full:
The first time I met Robyn Fenty was 2005. She was shooting a music video at a restaurant called Avocado in Toronto. The song was “Pon De Replay” and the director of the video was Lil X. I was introduced to her as a kid who played background music at a restaurant as people ate their dinner. It’s hard to believe that 11 years later, all three of us would come together to create the visual for a song called “Work.”
Today, the world knows Little X as Director X, they know me as Drake and not the kid singing while you order pasta. But 11 years later, they still all know Rihanna as the one and only Rihanna. Captivating from day one, the iconic being that is Rihanna was already at a place where most artists only dream of going. For them that’s often the peak, but for her that was the starting point and she has kept ascending to an untouchable level ever since. When it comes to music she relentlessly takes over the charts with every release. When it comes to performance, they swarm in masses just to be in her presence, obviously. And when it comes to fashion and style, she makes it seem so effortless, until you try and do it yourself, which is when it gets a little awkward.
What’s most impressive isn’t the endlessness of stats, awards, and accomplishments. What’s most impressive is the person. Some artists need to play a character to achieve success; some need to downplay their own natural instincts to blend in. She succeeds by doing something that no one in this music industry does, which is being herself.
This woman has surpassed all competition while still being the same girl from Barbados surrounded by the same friends, speaking with the same accent, and never missing a Crop Over unless it’s to come perform at OVO Fest. We love the music, which can change styles from album to album. We love the videos, which change their artistic vision from year to year. But most of all, we love the woman who hasn’t changed since day one.
She’s someone … she’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old. She’s one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life, I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me. She’s a living, breathing legend in our industry. Ladies and gentlemen, the recipient of the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award for 2016, Rihanna.
Drake then leaned in for a congratulatory kiss, but the 28-year-old Barbados singer gave him the cheek.
And just like that, Drake sent the internet abuzz.
Drake can profess his love for Rihanna on national television and I can’t even get a text back
— Typical Girl (@SoDamnTrue) August 29, 2016
Some thought Drake was about to propose.
For a second there, I though Drake was about to propose.
— VAL MERCADO (@thevalmercado) August 29, 2016
Others didn’t take it too well.
drake been in the friendzone for 7 years if that isn’t motivational idk what it is
— Mexican GBE Leader (@vuhsace) August 29, 2016
But don’t worry. Though MTV didn’t share the moment on television, the two shared a quick kiss before leaving the stage. That shouldn’t be a big surprise. The two are reportedly dating again.
AP photographer Charles Sykes captured the kiss:
And here’s an Instagram Drake shared later in the evening congratulating Rih.
This is a night for us all to be thankful for what you have done for us! You have affected so many of our lives in the best way possible. Tonight we celebrate you! @badgalriri
You can watch Drake’s full speech, followed by Rihanna’s acceptance speech, below:
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