The VMAs are known to have several moments every year that happen to go viral. One of the most talked-about moments occurred in 2009 during the VMA finale performance when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were famously interrupted by Lil Mama. While the performance went off rather smoothly despite Lil Mama being caught up in the rapture, it surely did leave a mark. Perhaps a not-so-good one as she’s had to carry the weight of that mistake throughout her career. Well, it’s been 12 years since Lil Mama walked up on that stage, and she’s tired of talking about it.
Millions of viewers and those in attendance at Radio City Music Hall watched as Lil Mama confidently walked up the stairs to join Jay-Z and Alicia Keys during their performance of “Empire State of Mind.” Beyonce tried to stop her, but she persisted. As the performance ends, Lil Mama poses next to the two, as they appear to lean away. Jay-Z then embraces Alicia and the two proceed to walk away, leaving Lil Mama to wave it off to the crowd.
While her intentions seemed harmless, it was a no-doubt unprofessional move on Lil Mama’s part. Both fans along with those in the media berated Lil Mama for crashing the performance. After the intense backlash, Lil Mama issued an apology via MTV News. “I did not mean any disrespect towards Jay-Z or Alicia Keys,” she said in the statement. Lil Mama also added that she admired both of the artists and “look up to them as role models.” According to her, the song escalated her emotions which caused her at the moment to go “on stage to celebrate my two icons singing about NY.”
However, neither Jay-Z nor Alicia Keys seemed to be moved by Lil Mama’s apology or statement. The “Family Feud” rapper shared with Angie Martinez in a September 2009 interview that her showing angered him as it was “out of line.””To interrupt that moment for us, I don’t think that was the right thing to do,” Jay-Z said. He shared that as artists, there is a level of planning that goes into making a great show. However, her disruption was uncalled for.
Alicia Keys also shared her disapproval of Lil Mama’s decision to walk on the VMA stage. During an interview on the Today show in 2009, Keys was resistant to discuss the incident initially, but then shared her opinion. “We can appreciate her being overwhelmed and inspired, but we would have appreciated it if she would have did it from her seat,” said Keys. The backlash admittedly was a “tough time” for Lil Mama, as she told Complex in 2015. “I did it to myself because I’m the one who went up there,” she said. Lil Mama also shared her wishes for whom she felt were her “mentors” to have expressed their feelings to her as well as offer forgiveness.
Things definitely became slow for the rapper, which she also addressed. According to Lil Mama, a large majority blackballed her within the music industry for fear that if they attached themselves to her in any capacity, neither Jay-Z nor Alicia Keys would want to associate themselves with them. It looks as though things are still sour between all of the parties involved. Lil Mama responded to a fan’s comments in the Spring of 2021 and shared that despite her attempts to reach out to both artists in private, neither have reached back out to her. She also stated that she is tired of having her brand “continuously misrepresented in public” and that the furtherance of that activity “will not be tolerated.”
Lil Mama is definitely ready to put the incident behind her and keep it in the past. Speaking with one of her mentors, MC Lyte, on an episode of Growing Up Hip Hop, she shared that she’s tired of talking about it. MC Lyte was checking up on the rapper after a radio interview with Da Brat went a bit awry. The legendary rapper reminded Lil Mama that moments like that will continue to bring up and that she has to be able to handle those moments. However, Lil Mama feels that it is unfair to have to keep readdressing the issue. Instead, Lil Mama would prefer if they asked for a solution to the problem. You can view the exchange below.