Hip-hop and R&B were on display for much of the 2021 BET Awards hosted at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater. Megan Thee Stallion, H.E.R., Lil Baby, Jazmine Sullivan, Ari Lennox, Swizz Beatz, Jadakiss, Griselda and more took the stage on Sunday evening.
The 2021 BET Awards were a momentous night filled with Blackness, fitting tributes and also great music moments. H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan, and Queen Latifah were a few of the women spotlighted on Sunday night as the awards show was aptly titled, “Year of the Black Woman.”
To kick off the evening, host Taraji P. Henson shared she was happy to be in-person amongst actual humans and spoke the names of a few women she admires including Issa Rae, Zendaya and Jazmine Sullivan. Vice President Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams and Maxine Waters were also acknowledged as “political trailblazers.” She went on to share, “We gonna be Black AF tonight.”
After this moment she added that she’d be appearing as different women throughout history: “some of my all-time favorite women.” H.E.R., Tina Turner and Erykah Badu made the cut for the list. “Tonight we’re also reclaiming our aesthetics, baby hairs, long blinged-out nails, yeah, we taking all that back, gold hoops, bamboo earrings,” Henson shared.
Beyond appearing on stage countless times looking absolutely stunning in looks styled by Jason Bolden, Henson offered some moments that were quite hilarious (we loved the origin of the “twerk” before City Girls hit the stage). Last year’s awards show was partially virtual, but for 2021 BET opted for fully in-person with vaccinated guests who sat socially distanced.
The energy was quite high for much of the evening, in total, the show was an enjoyable watch. Hip-hop and R&B were on display for much of the awards show from acts like Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Ari Lennox, Lil Nas X and more.
Below we’re sharing our favorite moments of the 2021 BET Awards.
H.E.R. Accepts Best Female R&B/Pop Artist Award
H.E.R. had her moment during the show when she performed a live set of “We Made It,” a staple from her recent album Back Of My Mind. There was even a moment when she broke into a guitar solo solidifying that she’s a force to be reckoned with. But, that wasn’t the only portion of the evening where she shined, she also accepted her Best Female R&B/Pop Artist award and shared a few poignant words. “I just want you guys to know how important this stage is, I want you guys to know how important it is to recognize each other and to celebrate each other,” the singer/songwriter said. “There wouldn’t be a lot of other genres if it was not for Black music. When they said, ‘R&B is dead, it’s not alive’ — it’s in everything,” she also added.
Megan Thee Stallion Performs “Thot Shit”
“Thot Shit” is Megan Thee Stallion’s return to the mainstream after taking a mini-hiatus. Tina Snow, Megan’s blonde-haired alter ego, returned for this highly anticipated moment. Though some Twitter user’s shared they weren’t feeling Thee Stallion’s energy, we think she came with it for this set. Fresh off of a few Billboard award wins, Megan’s rap cadence, dance routine, and overall energy were on point. Last night she also thanked her late mother for believing in her after winning the Best Female Hip Hop Artist Award.
Queen Latifah’s Lifetime Achievement Award Speech
Queen Latifah was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in a tribute that will go down in hip-hop history. For it Monie Love, Rapsody, MC Lyte and Lil’ Kim unleashed a medley of tracks that speak to Queen Latifah’s space in the rap canon. Lil’ Kim shared “U.N.I.T.Y.” and this was an emotional moment not just for Queen Latifah but also for rap fans who were sitting at home watching live. When she took the stage to thank her family, supporters, and countless others the artist/actress also thanked her partner Ebony Nichols publicly. “Eboni, my love, Rebel, my love.” She also closed her acceptance speech by sharing, “Peace, happy pride.”
Jazmine Sullivan & Ari Lennox Share “On It”
Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales won album of the year. Outside of accepting the award and sharing the special moment with her mother, Sullivan also shared a live rendition of “On It.” Ari Lennox joined the R&B singer and the two injected elements of soul into the evening. Since “On It” is one of the essentials on Heaux Tales it felt good to finally see it performed live.
Lil Nas X Pays Tribute to Michael Jackson
Not too long ago Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” video broke the Internet the day he was seen giving the devil a lap dance. For his Egyptian-themed performance, he paid tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” and gave the crowd a show within a show. The dance number was perfect and proved that he was born to be an entertainer.
Before the evening bowed out Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Method Man, and Griselda took to the stage and paid tribute to late rapper DMX. Though this performance was riddled with emotions for those onstage and at home, it was a treat to see each of these artists share this special moment together.