Jennifer Lopez Dances Her Ass Off, Brings Out Ja Rule For VMA Video Vanguard Performance

See her bring the heat — and the hits — to the VMA stage

Twenty years after making her VMA debut, Jennifer Lopez returned to the MTV stage on Monday night (August 20) ready to celebrate her hits, to dance her butt off, and to demonstrate why she's a venerable Video Vanguard.

The pioneering pop star told MTV News the day before the show that it was "tough" picking out which songs she'd perform for her VMA medley, but her picks proved absolutely perfect. She kicked things off with 1999's "Waiting for Tonight," before cycling through a slew of her biggest hits, including "Love Don't Cost a Thing," "Jenny from the Block," and "Get Right." Between multiple costume changes, she reenacted the Flashdance-inspired choreo from the "I'm Glad" video, and even threw in a couple snippets of other artists' songs, like Drake's "Nice for What" and Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow."

Because she was performing on her NYC home turf, the Bronx native also shouted out New York and even danced inside a subway car with the number six on it: an homage to her 1999 debut album, On the 6.

But J.Lo didn't just bring the heat on her own — her trusted collaborator Ja Rule bounded onstage for "I'm Real" and "Ain't That Funny," and their chemistry was just as cool as ever. DJ Khaled also joined the party for Lopez's fiery finale of "Dinero." It was so hot, J.Lo's boyfriend, Alex Rodriguez, couldn't help but ogle.

After a sweet speech from Shawn Mendes — who recognized Lopez as the first Latin artist to receive the Video Vanguard Award — the honoree took the mic for an impassioned acceptance speech.

"I grew up on MTV and this is a tremendous honor for me. Dreaming my wildest dreams and then watching them come true — music, acting, performing — this career has always been kind of an obsession for me," J.Lo said, adding that she always played by her own rules and refused to believe anyone who said she could only do one thing. She finished by shouting out her family, friends, fans, and her "twin soul," A-Rod — and all of Radio City Music Hall could feel the J.Lo love.