Did you miss the world’s largest black family reunion last night? No worries, I’ll catch you up! The 2016 BET Awards was nothing short of amazing and one of the most memorable award shows in recent years. Legends were honored, audiences were entertained, and outright “proud of my blackness” was at an all time high. I’m sure EVERY person of color is at their job this morning sporting luscious afros and colorful dashikis while staring down their melanin-less counterparts.
The awards pre-show hosted by BET 106 & Park veterans Terrence J and Rocsi Diaz was one for the fans. We saw all of our celebrities showing up for the big event wearing some of the hottest outfits and designers.
Mr. Classic Man himself, Jidenna, kicked off the pre-show performing his new music and was giving all types of Nigerian teas while sporting a beautifully tailored suit. I see ya Jidenna, looking all dapper and whatnot! Jidenna put on for Wondaland with his performance which showcased a lot of traditional dances and was full of culture! Tory Lanez came out to perform his hit song “Say It,” seducing all of the ladies of course. Terrence J introduced Kelly Rowland’s girl group from her show Chasing Destiny. The ladies, who have named their group June’s Diary , debuted their new single and video “L.A.N.C.E.” directed by Constellation Jones. Fellas, don’t be a Lance. Soul sista Fantasia also debuted the video for her latest single”Sleeping With the One I Love.” New artist Kent Jones, who is signed to DJ Khaled’s We The Best label, performed his hit single “Don’t Mind,” and had everybody thinking they were fluent in flirting in foreign languages. Memphis native Yo Gotti wrapped up the pre-show by performing his two songs “That Law” and “Down In The DM,” reminding us that he STILL has a crush on Angela Simmons. Overall the red carpet and pre-show was great but I don’t like that there were no women performers. BET what the heck?! Any who, ON TO THE SHOW!
As you may know by now, Queen Bey graced BET with her extraordinary presence and snatched our edges (once again) by performing “Freedom” featuring King K.Dot from her lady emancipation project we know and love as Lemonade. Literally no better way to begin the blackest awards show to have EVA been. Check out the performance. Beyonce and her team of powerful dancers pranced, skipped, and parlayed in that pool of water with most intense black passion. Kendrick Lamar rose to the stage, waking everybody in the house spitting his piercing verses that ignites a fire in anyone who hears. The performance set the tone for what we would see the entire night. BET told us it was gonna be LIT, and that it was!
As everybody gathered themselves after Beyonce and Kendrick’s opener, our hosts for the night Tracy Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson hit the stage for a hilarious take on the popular Broadway musical Hamilton. The duo dressed in early American 1700s hoop skirts and knickers, or as Anderson put it, they were dressed “like the white people on Roots.” “Panda” and “Cut It” were given a classical take during the opening skit and it was nothing short of funny. There was even a quick cameo from Anthony Hamilton who rode a musket across the stage.
The first award of the night went to Drake & Future for this year’s Best Group after they dropped their joint mixtape What A Time To Be Alive. Future accepted the award and thanked God (duh) and their labels. New artist Bryson Tiller would go on to win his first ever award (with many more to come) as Best Male R&B Artist.
Performances of the night included
Future Desiigner who came through and got everybody turned up with his jam “Panda.” Nobody knows what he was saying, but we were all LIT! Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and French Montana had us “All The Way Up,” and might I add Ms. Remy is back and killing the game, being all fine and whatnot. Alicia Keys surrounded by keyboards, a guitar and a beat station gave us taste of what’s to come with her single “Common.”Men and women alike were doing their best to croon along to Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange” and “Don’t.” Future lit up the stage with his fiery performance of Wicked. The very sexy, soulful, and seductive Maxwell gave us “Lake By The Ocean” and took a moment to cover Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” R&B vet Usher brought along Young Thug and performed his new song “No Limit” and made a bold fashion statement telling us to Don’t Trump America.
BET Music Matters highlighted various up and coming artists throughout the night including BiBi Bourelly, Anderson Paak & The Free Naturals, and Chloe and Halle. All of these featured artists have made headway in the industry being such heavy potentially successful performers and have been linked to greats in the game such as Rihanna and Beyonce.
Dave Chappelle introduced the first performance in the celebrations of our dearly beloved Prince. The Roots and Erykah Badu opened the night of tribute with their rendition of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” Bilal followed up with his immaculate performance of “The Chosen Ones.” It was almost like watching a Prince with cornrows perform the classic. Later in the show, Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly continued the Prince celebration with “Take Me With U” while Jennifer Hudson draped in an all-white hooded blazer blessed us with “Purple Rain.” Prince’s protege Janelle Monae paid her respects in the tribute when she performed the hits “Delirious,” “Pop Life,” “Kiss,” and “Die For You.”See Janelle shut it down.
Samuel L. Jackson was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his long career of film, television, and stage productions. In his acceptance, Jackson thanked everyone who has contributed to his success and longevity in the every changing seen of Hollywood including his Aunt Edna, his wife and daughter, and the many people who believed in him along this journey.The State Farm Humanitarian Award honoree was Jesse Williams. No words. This man rightfully deserves this honor for standing on the frontline of injustice during the protests of Mike Brown and supporting organizations that elicit change such as Sankofa.org. Baby, when I say Jesse Williams left us all inspired, heated, and ready to f*** s*** up all in one sitting.
Williams eloquently captivated us while reading all of White America with his emotional and moving speech addressing the faults whiteness has on our oppression, yet also telling us that even in our black success, we’re not free and must be held accountable to continue in the fight for equal rights. Easily the best moment of the night. Don’t believe me? Just watch. *sidenote* There was a posted video of Jesse Williams’ entire speech via Youtube, but most recorded media of the speech has been removed from the internet. Think about it.
Other greats recognized during the show included Muhammad Ali who was honored by his daughter Laila Ali. Also, our everyday heroes Kenyatta Ruffin and Marcus Duke who both received the Shine Your Light Award for their efforts in making their communities better and doing their part in helping the advancement of black youth everywhere.
BET also got us a little hip to a few special projects we can look forward to in the near future. Nate Parker’s Birth of Nation featuring the likes of Gabrielle Union and Aja Naomi King will be in theaters later this year. The gorgeous cast of the New Edition biopic hit the stage to present the Best Actress award. The three-part mini-series is expected to drop on BET later this summer. Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut also shared that their new suspense movie, When The Bough Breaks, will drop in September.
Sheila E. closed out the show with her tribute to her longtime friend Prince. She gave the most captivating performance of the night coming from behind her drums and dancing the night away, barefoot and all. It was raw, it was fun, it was emotional, and it embodied all that was The Purple One.
The entire BET Awards Show 2016 was one for the books and will be remembered for years and years to come. Not only were we entertained, but encouraged to increase our activism in social change and political involvement. Artists reminded us how great it is to be black! We were given further power to own who we are and demand freedom, rights, and justice in America and areas beyond. The award show meshed culture, ethnic groups, art, power, and precision into a three-hour jam packed presentation that left us feeling like we can take over the world. I’m damn sure that we will. Thank you for this BET!
The complete list of the BET Awards 2016 winners:
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist: Beyoncé
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist – Bryson Tiller
Best Group – Drake & Future
Viewer’s Choice Award: Beyonce – “Formation”
Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan
Best Actress: Taraji P. Henson
Best Collaboration: Drake & Rihanna – “Work”
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: Drake
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Video of the Year: Beyonce – “Formation”
Video Director of the Year: Director X
Sportsman of the Year: Stephen Curry
Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams
Best New Artist: Bryson Tiller
Youngstars Award: Amandla Sternberg
Best Movie: Straight Outta Compton
Best Gospel/Inspiration Artist: Kirk Franklin
Centric Award: Beyonce – Formation
Best International Act U.K.: Skepta
Best International Act Africa: Black Coffee