On Sunday (June 27), the 2021 BET Awards proved to be a celebration of Black excellence for the 21st consecutive year. The star-studded event began with a high fashion red carpet at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where fan-favorite hip-hop and R&B stars gathered for a night of joy.
Lil Baby and Kirk Franklin were the first to hit the stage and kick off the show. Wearing all-white ensembles, Franklin and Baby delivered an amazing performance of their heartwarming song “We Win.” The tune appears on the soundtrack for the upcoming film Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring LeBron James.
Nigeria’s Burna Boy was the recipient of the Best International Act Award. Queen Latifah, the honoree of the night, was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her decades-long career in music and entertainment — from releasing hits such as “Just Another Day” and “UN.I.T.Y.” to starring in all-time classics including Living Single and Set It Off. The Grammy Award-winner was presented the award by her longtime friend and contemporary, MC Lyte, who later participated in a Latifah tribute performance alongside Lil’ Kim and a number of other female rap stars.
The fiery awards came to an end with a heartfelt tribute to DMX by Method Man, Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes, Griselda and The LOX.
Check out a recap of some of the most show-stopping moments of the 2021 BET Awards:
Migos light up stage, plus Cardi B and Offset reveal they are expecting baby No. 2
Migos’ Offset, Takeoff and Quavo were rap sensations at the 2021 BET Awards when they performed their Billboard Hot 100 track “Straightenin.” The trio showcased some phenomenal dance skills with their stellar choreography.
They were also joined by Takeoff’s expectant wife Cardi B, who revealed her pregnancy by showing off her baby bump in a sparkly, black jumpsuit complete with stiletto heels. Cardi joined her husband to deliver their collaborative single “Type S–t.” Both songs appear on Migos’ recently released album Culture III.
Dynamic Duo Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars — as Silk Sonic — win best group award
The best group trophy went to Silk Sonic’s impeccable Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. The pair were visibly excited to win the honor, but they opted to keep their acceptance speeches short and sweet.
“BET, this means the world to us,” Paak said. Minutes later, Bruno thanked his label Atlantic Records and Connie Orlando (executive vice president of specials, music programming and strategy at BET) among others. He then teased Silk Sonic’s untitled, upcoming debut album.
“To the fans patiently waiting, I promise y’all, Andy and I promise y’all it’s gonna be worth the wait,” Mars said. Silk Sonic later performed their Billboard chart-topper “Leave the Door Open.” The hit was their debut single and marked Anderson Paak.’s first ever No. 1 song on the Hot 100.
H.E.R. delivers top-tier performance from mid-air and wins best female R&B/Pop artist award
H.E.R. did not come to play at the 2021 BET Awards. The Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and instrumentalist delivered a rock star performance of “We Made It” on Sunday night. Fans were amazed when H.E.R. made a grand entrance by gracefully dropping from the ceiling while playing the drums.
Surrounded by an array of dancers and lights, the singer further showcased her guitarist skills while playing the bass on the brightly lit stage.
Host Taraji P. Henson brings spunk with hilarious spoofs and commentary
Golden Globe Award-winner Taraji P. Henson kept the audience cheering in between the lineup of jaw-dropping performances and powerful tributes.
At one point, Taraji dressed as Erykah Badu in a fun-filled spoof alongside Method Man. The actress pulled off a series of stylish looks throughout the night – from her Versace red carpet gown to a black mini-dress.
Jazmine Sullivan wins album of the year and honors her mom, a breast cancer survivor
After wowing the crowd with her solo performance of “Tragic,” Sullivan was joined by fellow singer Ari Lennox to sing their collaborative duet “On It.” Soon after, Sullivan won the album of the year award for her soulful Heaux Tales.
She brought her mom Pam onstage to accept the trophy, presented to her by Saweetie. During her acceptance speech, Sullivan opened up about her mom’s health battle. “Two years ago, we would’ve never expected to be here,” the 12-time Grammy Award-nominated artist began. “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, so we didn’t see any of this happening, but God has been so faithful to us.”
The crowd applauded when she revealed that her mom is now in remission. “This is my prize. This is my gift,” Sullivan said. “It means more to me than anything that she’s here with me. She supported me all my life and pushed me and loved me all my life.”
Sullivan later added, “This award is bigger than me. It’s for all the women, all the Black women that are amazing and strong that have inspired me all my life.”
Most nominated artist DaBaby delivers debut live performance of “Ball If I Want To”
DaBaby was tied for most nominated artist of the night alongside Megan Thee Stallion, with seven nods each. The rapper used the occasion to unleash the live debut of his all-new song “Ball If I Want To” on the BET Awards stage. Throughout the fun-filled performance, DaBaby was surrounded by a slew of dancers wearing teal, purple and white varsity jackets and cheerleader costumes.
At one point, he made a daring move and levitated above the stage while merely holding on to a giant rope. He was also joined by professional basketball players slam dunking using only trampolines and gravity. DaBaby’s album Blame It on Baby was up for album of the year.
Earlier in the night, Megan delivered an electrifying performance of her new tune “Thot S–t” and won the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist.
Queen Latifah receives lifetime achievement award, plus tribute performance from Lil’ Kim and MC Lyte
Queen Latifah was the woman of the evening at the show. The Golden Globe Award-winner, longtime rapper and producer was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her immeasurable career. MC Lyte described her as a “sister in life” before Lil’ Kim, Monie Love and Rapsody hit the stage to deliver a medley of Latifah’s hits, including “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.” Lil’ Kim concluded the performance by rapping alongside her “big sister from Brooklyn,” MC Lyte. Actors/writers Issa Rae and Lena Waithe were among those dancing along in the audience.
Latifah brought her dad, Lancelot Owens, Sr., onstage to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award. She also brought a photo of her late mom Rita, who died in 2018. The Living Single and Set It Off star began her tearful acceptance speech by thanking her “sisters in the name of rap” who delivered the tribute performance.
She went on to thank BET for allowing Black artists to “be in our fullness” in years when other platforms did not recognize Black artists or their contributions to the industry. “Black is beautiful,” Latifah said at one point. “I’ve always celebrated women because I was raised by a strong Black woman.” She went on to thank her longtime collaborator and business partner Shakim Compere, saying, “Thank you for always protecting me and loving me and being my friend.”