The BET Awards are back and better than ever. Since 2001, the cable channel has hosted its own awards show to recognize and celebrate Black artists and entertainers. But this year was much different than the rest. With the writer’s strike still ongoing, it was decided that the awards would go on without a host for the first time ever. But instead of shortening the show or filling the empty time with pointless content, the network chose to add more of what makes the awards special, music.
Every single artist who touched the stage that night gave it their all. From the “Best New Artist” winner Coco Jones’s performance of her hit single “ICU” to Afrobeats singer Davido rocking the stage with his song “Unavailable”. However, the real highlight of the show was the celebration of Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary. Legends from all generations showed up and showed out on the BET stage to display their love for the culture. Trick Daddy, Uncle Luke, and Trina came through and represented the dirty South. Busta Rhymes, Redman, and Ja Rule took the audience back to the 90’s with their boom-bap east coast sound. Even the godfather of drill rap, Chief Keef, performed on stage 10 years after being banned from the ceremony back in 2013. But the biggest surprise of the night was seeing the formerly feuding rappers Quavo and Offset reunite to show their love for Hip-Hop and honor the memory of their deceased friend and group member Takeoff. The event ended with everyone literally arm and arm as Fast Life Yungstaz performed their 2009 classic Swag Surfin’.
Between all the great performances during the nearly 4-hour show, only 6 of the 21 awards were presented and broadcast live, and many of the winners didn’t show up to the event. Latto took home the “Best Female Artist” award over the likes of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, and Coco Jones topped the all-female “Best New Artist” category. Afrobeats superstar Burna Boy won the “Best International Act” award, though he was not present to accept. The “Viewer’s Choice Award” was won by Beyoncé, who tied with fellow R&B singer SZA for the most wins that night (3). Neither of which attended the event. Actor, singer, and director Teyana Taylor won the “Video Director of the Year”. She was also absent, but luckily her mother was present and FaceTimed her on stage so that the artist could say a few words of gratitude, though the poor Wi-fi connection in the stadium made her speech come out a little choppy.
The “Lifetime Achievement” award went to the dragon himself, Busta Rhymes. During his 13-minute acceptance speech, he spoke on his career, the relationship between the old and new generation artists, and the state of Hip-Hop today.
“We gon’ stop these little petty beefs we be doing in rap.” He said towards the end. “We gon’ stop that, we gon’ love each other, and we gon’ get to this money.”
Despite the missing winners, bad Wi-fi, and, lack of a host, this year’s BET Awards was tons of fun. The meeting of different generations of Hip-Hop made the event feel like a family gathering. One where we could play our music, reconnect with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while, and collectively indulge in our culture completely carefree.