Alicia Keys hit the MTV Video Music Awards stage for the first time in nearly a decade, as the award-winning songstress performed her new single, “LALA (Unlocked),” with Swae Lee. In their first joint performance, the pair’s creative chemistry translated from the studio to the big stage, with Keys, donning a shimmering gold dress, belting out lyrics while a shirtless Swae Lee commanded the rabid crowd at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“Happy, but you’re unhappy / Shorty you’re so valid,” the Rae Sremmurd rapper crooned, with Keys providing timely adlibs before delving into her own verse, with Lee returning the favor. Being that this year’s VMAs took place in her hometown of New York City, it was only right that Keys bring down the house with a slow-burning rendition of “Empire State of Mind,” one day after the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Keys and Lee’s VMAs set marks the first live performance of “LALA” since unleashing her seventh studio album, Alicia, in 2020. Produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, the track is a sultry number that builds on the Keys’ history of collaborating with rap talent and already has fans clamoring for a new body of work from the singer. Earlier this year, Keys celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album, Songs in A Minor, which topped the Billboard 200 and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide to date.