NEW YORK (AP) – Acting when a police officer pressed his knee to his neck, replicating the last moments of George Floyd’s life, multiplatinum rapper DaBaby rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter remix of his hit song “Rockstar” at the BET Awards.
Sunday’s show, a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic, featured a series of highly produced, well-crafted, and recorded performances. The DaBaby clip, featuring Roddy Ricch, also featured footage of protests, a reflection of today’s world in the wake of Floyd’s death and the deaths of others, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
The BET Awards, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary, began on Sunday with a performance featuring black artists who rap and sing hymns about the experience of blacks and the fight for equal rights.
12-year-old sensation Keedron Bryant, who drew attention on social media with his passionate performance about being a young black man in today’s world, kicked off the show with an a cappella performance of his poignant song “I Just Wanna Live,” that earned him a record deal. That was followed by a stellar performance from Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power,” with Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody and YG adding new lyrics to the song, including naming Taylor and others.
Chuck D kicked off the performance, replacing 1989 with 2020. “Fight the Power” topped the Billboard rap charts over three decades ago and appeared in the Spike Lee epic “Do the Right Thing.” Flavor Flav, Questlove and Black Thought and Chuck D artist Jahi were also part of the performance.
Sunday’s program also celebrates BET’s 40th anniversary as a network. The three-hour show, broadcast on CBS for the first time, will be hosted by comedian, actress, and television personality Amanda Seales, who starred in several skits, including one about women who identify as “Karen,” a stereotype and common term for racist and privileged white women.
Other artists were politicians during their performances, including Ricch, who wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt while rapping, Alicia Keys, Anderson Paak, and Jay Rock, as well as brothers SiR and D Smoke, who performed with their mother Jackie Gouché.
Lil Wayne paid tribute to NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who died in January, with a performance of his 2009 song “Kobe Bryant,” weaving new lyrics. Wayne Brady, in a shiny suit, rolled on a piano while singing a mix of Little Richard hits.
Nipsey Hussle, who was named best male hip-hop artist and won the humanitarian award at last year’s BET Awards, won the video of the year for “Higher,” a clip he shot with DJ Khaled and John Legend shortly before he died. .
“This is for Nipsey Hussle and hip-hop,” Khaled said in a recorded video. “Nipsey Hussle, thanks for working with me on this ‘Superior’ album. I appreciate you. The Nipsey family, we love you.
The BET Awards, one of the first award shows to be broadcast virtually, featured performances that were sharp with artistic production on stage, giving additional life to the songs being performed. It was a welcome break from the “living room” and home performances that hundreds of artists have shared on social media since the March pandemic.
Megan Thee Stallion went to the desert with dancers in the background as she moved and hit her number 1 hit “Savage”. She won the best female hip-hop artist, beating Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.
OMG I probably shot this video like 10 times. It feels so crazy to do this from home, ”he said. “I used to watch the BET awards all the time thinking, ‘Someday I will be the one to accept my award,’ and now it is.”
Later in the show, Beyoncé will win the humanitarian award, which will be presented by Michelle Obama.
The show is an annual celebration of black culture and entertainment, and this year’s ceremony is the first major award ceremony since Floyd’s death on May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police, sparking worldwide protests. aimed at reforming police actions and removing statues and symbols considered racist from public places.