Over the last few years the BET Awards has been pretty mediocre in my opinion but this year the show was the best that it has ever been in years!
The award show opened with a performance by Beyonce which I was very surprised by because she usually doesn’t attend the BET Awards. Her set started with dancers walking towards the stage wearing African attire while an audio speech from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played from the speakers. Beyonce appeared onstage standing in water and the dancers joined her in place on the stage. She performed the song “Freedom” from her album Lemonade which is more of a revolutionary song. She joined the dancers performing a traditional African dance and Kendrick Lamar joined her onstage for what became an epic collaboration! Their tribute to African culture and the black lives matter movement was amazing. After the performance was over the camera zoomed in to the audience and you could see the proud faces of celebrities like Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson nodding and smiling with satisfaction. I was definitely proud to see my generation use their platform to help evoke positive change!
Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson hosted the show again this year. They started off the show with a parody skit of Hamilton, singing current rap songs from artists Desiigner, OT Genasis, and The Weeknd. Personally I found the skit to be very corny but I’m a huge fan of Tracee so she could really do no wrong in my eyes LOL!
I thought production did a great job of blending new and older artists for the music performance line-up. Some of the performers included Fat Joe, Alicia Keys, Future, Usher and Byson Tiller. I think it was a good blend of artist to target various age groups. Most of the performances were pretty good. Alicia Keys’ performance was my favorite.
One of the top and most talked about award categories of the night was the humanitarian award which was awarded to actor Jesse Williams. If you don’t watch the show Grey’s Anatomy you probably weren’t too familiar with who he was, but aside from being an actor he is also a well known activist who is known for speaking out about controversial issues regarding the oppression of black people. When Jesse accepted his award many people were expecting him to give a brief thank you but surprisingly he turned his acceptance speech into a full out church sermon addressing the injustices of black people and calling out our flawed and bias judicial system. When Jesse left the stage just about the entire audience was standing on their feet applauding him. I was even on my feet watching his speech from my television screaming “Yassss Jesse”! One of the most memorable quotes from his speech was, “Just because we’re magic does not mean we’re not real”.
The highlight of the 2016 BET Awards which I think most viewers would agree was the Prince tribute. I can’t say that I am a die-hard Prince fan but I do enjoy some of his music and I realize how much his music has impacted and influenced many of the artist that our out today. Instead of doing one long tribute all at once the performances were blended into different sections throughout the award show. Some of the performers from the tribute included: Erykah Badu, Bilal, Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, Sheila E. and Janelle Monae. Each artist performed a different Prince classic and added their personal touch to the song. My favorite tributes were from Janelle Monae and Bilal.
Although the show was pretty lengthy (3 hours) it was definitely worth watching. This year the BET Awards took on more of a polished and sophisticated tone which I really liked. I’m hoping they will keep this new format up in the years to come.