In an unannounced appearance, Beyonce opened the 2016 BET Awards in characteristically dynamic style. Standing in a giant pool of water and surrounded by dancers bathed in a red light, she delivered a powerful performance of “Freedom,” from her latest album Lemonade.
But Beyonce’s performance wasn’t the only surprise; Kendrick Lamar, featured on the album version of the track, emerged from below the floor in front of the stage to spit his verse before joining Beyonce in the pool of water as the two stomped through the song’s epic finale, leaving a final lasting image of the two of them side by side, Bey’s arm on Kendrick’s shoulder. For an awards show that is promising a much-hyped tribute to Prince as its finale, this was an opening that lived up to the anticipation.
Beyonce and Kendrick are both enjoying a fantastic 2016, musically, as Lemonade topped the Billboard 200 upon its surprise release April 23, while Kendrick’s untitled unmastered project, also released as a surprise, did the same when it came out in March.
Drake and Future went on to win Best Group in the first televised award of the evening, and Future and DJ Esco came out to accept the award from Taraji P. Henson. Maxwell, Usher, Alicia Keys and more are scheduled to perform later in the show.
Watch Kendrick’s entrance:
Watch Beyonce and Kendrick together: