Last night the 2021 BET Awards welcomed everyone back outside. Socially distanced, of course. From the pre-show, to the red carpet, and actual live show BET was ready for everyone to come out and play and celebrate this year’s achievements in Black excellence safely. Using the power house duo of BET EVP Head of Specials and Music Programming Connie Orlando and Producer extraordinaire Jesse Collins of Jesse Collins Entertainment, this years awards took on a socially distanced lounge vibe. Providing an aesthetic similar to another Jesse Collins Entertainment produced event, The 93rd Academy Awards, but with more trap music and a masked up fan pit near the stage. As a requirement to be inside the building for the actual awards everyone needed to be fully vaccinated and temperature checks were in place. And that reminder was carefully placed throughout the show during commercials and introducing the performance of Silk Sonic to a fully vaccinated audience at nearby Club Novo.
Unlike the Oscars, this years BET Awards opted for a host utilizing the talents of actress and entrepreneur Taraji P. Henson to carry out this year’s theme of “The Year Of The Black Woman.” Taraji executed this task perfectly from her dazzling entrance via a swing from the rafters, to her comedic timing in celebrating various Black women in history. Taraji made sure that Black women were loved and got their flowers. Truly and literally, Taraji made sure that the front row of the seated audience was filled with Black women like Representative Maxine Waters to actress/producer Issa Rae and that they all received actual roses.
“The Year Of The Black Woman” theme was certainly felt from all the electrifying performances from Black women like H.E.R., Megan The Stallion, Jazmine Sullivan, The City Girls, and Andra Day. The celebration of Black women continued by acknowledging the achievements of Queen Latifiah, this years recipient of the well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. Lady MCs Rapsody, Monie Love, MC Lyte, and Lil’ Kim serenaded the Queen with a few hit selections from her catalogue including her signature anthem U.N.I.T.Y., showcasing the impact she has made on her peers and the current ladies of hip hop. With her father at her side and holding a picture of her late mother, Rita Owens, Queen Latifah held court and stated that it’s time for lady rappers to come together and stop the division.
Megan The Stallion continued to remind the world of the excellence that Black women carry by being the night’s big winner taking home four awards. Winning two awards alongside Cardi B for their hit “WAP” ( Best Collaboration, Video Of The Year), Megan took home Viewer’s Choice for “Savage Remix” featuring Beyonce, and Best Female Hip Hop Artist. In addition to her four awards, Megan turned out two performances for the night. One solo performance for her newest single “Thot Sh*T” and a group performance with DJ Khalid for “I Did It.”
The biggest surprise of the night came when Cardi B joined her husband Offset and his group The Migos for their song “Type Sh*T” and reveled she was pregnant with baby number two. Very reminiscent of Beyonce’s “Love On Top” bump reveal at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. The crowd went wild with excitement when Cardi entered the stage in a bedazzled catsuit with a mesh insert around her middle confirming the rumors and hopes of another member being added to her family were indeed true.
Although the night was dedicated to celebrating Black women the achievements of Black men were also awarded and not forgotten. Rapper Lil Baby and gospel artist Kirk Franklin opened the show with their uplifting song “We Win, while the stage was graced with performances from Tyler The Creator, Da’Baby, DJ Khalid and friends, The Migos, and a built in tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time”Video by Lil’ Nas X with his performance of “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” The night ended with a powerful tribute to rapper DMX with a performance of his hits from Method Man, Swiss Beatz, Busta Rhymes, Griselda, Lil Buck and Jon, The Lox, and actor Michael K. Williams. The tribute concluded with a signature spoken prayer by DMX. It was a beautiful way to close out the awards and the “In Memoriam” section.
Over all, this year’s BET Awards knew the assignment and carried it out well. The awards were well timed and kept a very palatable pace. Well done BET. For more information about winners, performances, and award highlights be sure to go to bet.com .