Hip-hop will be representing in a major way this weekend at the American Music Awards. The show, which airs on Sunday (November 18), finds plenty of rap’s finest occupying multiple nominations including Artist of the Year (Drake), New Artist of the Year (J. Cole), Favorite Pop/Rock Album (Nicki Minaj), Female Pop/Rock Artist (Nicki Minaj) and of course Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album. With Swizz Beatz, Ludacris and Nicki Minaj all set to perform at the star-studded ceremony, which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary, XXL looks back at the 10 Most Memorable Rap Performances at the American Music Awards.—XXL (@XXL)
LL Cool J “I’m Bad” (1988)
Wearing a black Kangol, sweatsuit, gold chain and sneakers LL Cool J’s rendition of his song “I’m Bad” at the 1988 AMA’s showed why he’ll always be one of the baddest on the mic. The song, which samples the Theme from "S.W.A.T." by Rhythm Heritage, immediately brought the audience to their feet.
MC Hammer "Here Comes the Hammer" (1991)
Decked in a sequin jacket and parachute pants, MC Hammer and his dancers tore up the stage with an energetic performance of “Here Comes the Hammer” at the 18th annual American Music Awards. MC Hammer also took home the Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop award for Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.
Snoop Dogg "Gin and Juice" (1994)
Snoop Dogg brought out the whole gang as he rocked the stage to “Gin and Juice” at the 1994 AMA’s. With Dr. Dre and Tha Dogg Pound with him, Snoop strolled through his smash while his crew casually rode bikes back and fourth across the stage.
Eminem and Dr. Dre “Forget About Dre” (2000)
Eminem and Dr. Dre’s performed the Grammy Award winning single “Forget About Dre”, off of Dre’s album 2001. Funkmaster Flex played hype man for the duo by spinning from his table in the middle of the stage.
Kanye West "Heartless" (2008)
Yeezy livened up the AMA’s with his performance of “Heartless”, the sing-song melody which Kanye dubbed as “pop art”. Kanye created the genre for his album 808’s & Heartbreak
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind" (2009)
New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez had the honor of introducing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance of their hit “Empire State of Mind”. Starting with an excerpt of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” Alicia belted out her verse on the track while a white tuxedo clad Hov brought the audience to their feet with his powerful performance.
Eminem and 50 Cent “Crack A Bottle” and “Forever” (2009)
With his hoody pulled down over his face, Slim Shady bobbed and weaved across the AMA stage before bringing out 50 Cent to perform their hit “Crack A Bottle”. Em cut “Bottle” short and dove right into his verse from Drake‘s “Forever.”
Diddy-Dirty Money “Coming Home” (2010)
Diddy and his Dirty Money duo, which is composed of singers Dawn and Kalenna, performed their reflective track “Coming Home” off the hip-hop mogul's Last Train To Paris LP. Dressed in all black, Diddy arrived in a whirl of smoke and showed a softer, more vulnerable side than the usual Bad Boy image that audiences are used to.
Nicki Minaj Performs “Turn Me On" and “Superbass” (2011)
Clad in an aluminum body suit and pink afro wig to match, Nicki Minaj stormed the AMA stage to perform her hit “Turn Me On” with house music DJ, David Guetta. Afterwards YMCMB’s first lady went solo to perform her smash hit “Super Bass”.
Drake Performs “Headlines” (2011)
Donned in gloves and all black every thing, Drizzy commanded the stage while he performed his hit single “Headlines” off of his Take Care album. The rock infused performance had the crowd hyped the whole time.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince “I Wanna Rock” (1994)
For their debut at the showcase, The Fresh Prince, Will Smith, and DJ Jazzy Jeff blew the crowd away with their entertaining “I Wanna Rock” performance. "Never before seen in the history of television , DJ Jazzy Jeff cutting it up live on TV," bellowed Will as Jeff ripped things on the turntables.