BETs highlight Black voices as artists go political
Musicians used songs to support civil rights, Black Lives Matter movement
The BET Awards served as an extension of the voices of Black people protesting in the streets on Sunday, as artists used their performances to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights and the lives of those lost because of police officers, including George Floyd.
DaBaby, with his face pressed against the ground as an officer’s knee crushed his neck, rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter remix of his hit song “Rockstar.”
The 12-year-old sensation Keedron Bryant started the show with an a cappella performance of his poignant song “I Just Wanna Live,” which earned him a record deal.
That was followed by an allstar performance of Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power,” featuring Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody and YG adding new lyrics to the song.
Michelle Obama highlighted Beyoncé’s commitment to the Black community before presenting her with the humanitarian award, saying: “You can see it in everything she does, from her music that gives voice to Black joy and Black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black lives.”
Beyoncé used her speech to encourage viewers to vote “like our life depends on it” in the upcoming election.
“I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change.
“Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain. “Now we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power, and that is to vote,” she said.
Sunday’s show celebrated BET’s 20th awards show and BET’s 40th year as a network.
The three-hour event was hosted by comedian, actress and TV personality Amanda Seales.
Other artists were political during their performances, including Roddy Ricch, who wore a Black Lives Matter shirt while he rapped, Alicia Keys, Anderson Paak and Jay Rock, as well as brothers SiR and D Smoke, who performed with their mother Jackie Gouché.
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. Though the BET Awards are technically about handing out trophies, the awards were an afterthought. Roddy 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 honours 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.