The MTV Video Music Awards typically provide at least one unforgettable moment — whether it’s Kanye West boldly interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 or Madonna kissing Britney Spears on the mouth in 2003. Now, Alicia Keys is opening up about a night she’ll never forget at the 2009 VMAs when Lil Mama infamously crashed her performance of “Empire State of Mind” with JAY-Z.
During a recent interview with Drink Champs, the Grammy Award-winning singer recalled completely missing Lil Mama’s burst of excitement altogether; she was too focused on their performance. But Hov? Hov was annoyed and showed it all over his face.
“The truth of all the truths — all I know, we was on that stage,” she said. “Jay was here, I was here. In my head, I was such a gorilla at the time and I was like, ‘This is what’s happening. I’m going to destroy this record tonight.’ … Somehow, however she got over here, I didn’t even bear witness to.
“The whole show I was iced — so focused on making it amazing. I went backstage and Jay was like, ‘So, you ain’t see that?’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And he was like, ‘Nah, you ain’t just see what just happened?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, we killed it. That’s what happened.’”
In October, Alicia Keys told the Morning Hustleshe has long forgiven Lil Mama who was just a wide-eyed teenager at the time.
“Listen, to this day, I truly never knew she was even on the stage — that’s the craziest part of the whole thing for me,” she said. “I was on that stage, Jay was in the middle, she was on the other side of Jay, and I never saw her. Never. So umm, that was wild to me. But I absolutely — it’s not even a statement.
“That was then. You know, she’s from New York, too. You know, I think she really felt the energy of the record and she loved it and she couldn’t hold herself back. Look, this is what my music does to people. What can we say?”
Still, the stage crash resulted in a now-classic photo that shows Lil Mama posted up to JAY-Z in a b-boy pose with Alicia Keys on the other side.
Revisit the clip below and keep scrolling to see Beyoncé try to stop Lil Mama as well.