New York — The BET Awards served as an extension of the voices of black people protesting in the streets about the inequalities black people face daily, as artists used their performances to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights and lives lost because of the actions of police officers, including George Floyd's.
DaBaby, with his face pressed against the ground as an officer's knee crippled his neck - replicating the last moments of Floyd's life - rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter remix of his hit song "Rockstar." His performance also featured images from protests, a reflection of the current world in the wake of Floyd's death and the death of others, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Sunday's show, a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic, featured a number of highly produced, well-crafted and pre-taped performances.
It kicked off with black artists rapping and singing anthems about the black experience and fighting for equal rights.NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who died in January, with a performance of his 2009 song "Kobe Bryant," weaving in new lyrics. Wayne Brady, in a glittery suit, rolled around on top of a piano as he sang a medley of Little Richard hits.
Nipsey Hussle, who was named best male hip-hop artist and earned the humanitarian award at last year's BET Awards, won video of the year for "Higher," a clip he filmed with DJ Khaled and John Legend shortly before he died .
"This is for Nipsey Hussle and hip-hop," Khaled said in a taped video. "Nipsey Hussle, thank you for working with me on this 'Higher' record. I appreciate you. Nipsey's family, we love you."
The BET Awards, one of the first awards shows to air virtually, featured performances that were sharp with artsy stage production, giving extra life to the songs being performed. It was a welcome break from the "living room" and homebound performances hundreds of artists have shared on social media since the pandemic hit in March.
Chloe x Halle, who have successfully performed for various TV shows and events during the pandemic while promoting their new album, gave an epic performance of their songs "Do It" and "Forgive Me." R&B star Summer Walker, who played guitar and sang, was also impressive during her performance, which featured Usher.
Megan Thee Stallion went to the desert with background dancers as she twerked and rapped her No. 1 hit "Savage." She won best female hip-hop artist, beating out Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.
"Oh my God, I probably recorded this video like 10 times. It feels so crazy doing this from my house," she said. "I used to watch the BET Awards all the time thinking, 'One day that's going to be me going up there accepting my award' - and now it is."
Though the BET Awards are technically about handing out trophies, the awards were an afterthought. During the live telecast, Richh won album of the year for his debut "Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial"; Lizzo was named best female R&B/pop artist; and Burna Boy won best international act. Overall, Chris Brown, Beyoncé and Ricch were the night's big winners, taking home two honors each. Beyoncé won the BET HER award for "Brown Skin Girl," shared with daughter Blue Ivy Carter as well as Wizkid and Saint JHN. The song also won Beyoncé and Blue Ivy a Soul Train Music Award last year.
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