BETs high­light Black voices as artists go po­lit­i­cal

Mu­si­cians used songs to sup­port civil rights, Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - MES­FIN FEKADU

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.

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