The 2016 BET Awards was super-Black, and we lived for every moment of it. In case you missed it, we have a recap of the highlights from the show:
1. Surprise! It’s Beyoncé!
There was chatter that Beyoncé would make an appearance at the awards show. Many assumed she would do so via satellite, but no — this time she was actually there! And she brought something fresh from the Formation World Tour.
Not only was 34-year-old diva there, she kicked off the whole show! You could feel the excitement swelling from the crowd (even from home) as people began to piece together that she was opening the BET Awards — and she was performing “Freedom”!
Then Kendrick Lamar popped up from the stage to add his amazing voice and rhymes to the mix. Simply put, it was life.
2. Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson Pay Tribute To Hamilton
If you still can’t get a ticket to Hamilton, don’t feel bad. Hosts Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross brought its flavor to the BET Awards. This time, though, instead of putting a hip-hop spin on history, they recapped the biggest hits of the year in the style of the musical.
A simple misunderstanding, however, meant Anthony stomped out on stage with a gun to perform bits and pieces of one of his songs while dressed up as a revolutionary general.
3. The Prince Tributes
According to Tracee the awards show as a whole was about celebrating the legendary Prince. The show definitely lived up to that assessment.
With performances from Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, Bilal, and Sheila E., just to name a few, there was no shortage of talent to honor his memory and his music. See, Billboard Awards, that’s how you do it!
4. Do Not Forget To Vote
At several points throughout the show, hosts and presenters made it a point to encourage viewers to show up and show out on Election Day.
As much as the 2016 BET Awards is about celebrating the best of the Black community, it was not lost on anyone that our voices matter, and that extends to the polls. Don’t forget that when November rolls around.
5. Hey, Remy
Remy Ma has gotten right back into the game as if she never left, and the 2016 BET Awards was a huge moment in her comeback. She made her grand entrance for “All The Way Up” in a Geisha-inspired performance that Dru Hill would have killed for.
6. Bobby Brown Joins The Cast Of The New Edition Story
We’re counting down until the premiere of The New Edition Story because it looks like it will be a good one. The five-night event, airing in 2017, follows the rise and trials of New Edition. The cast came out to introduce themselves, but Bobby Brown did not want to be left out.
We noticed Bobby threw a wee bit of shade when he stepped out on the stage, stating, “I had to come out here with a group I couldn’t be kicked out of.”
7. Alicia Keys Was A One-Woman Band
Alicia Keys didn’t need any backup when she took the stage to perform her new single, “In Common.” She was the percussion, the strings, and the keys.
8. Miss Tina Accepted Beyoncé’s Awards
Even though Beyoncé was present earlier in the evening, she was not there to accept the award for Video of the Year. It was no snub — Queen Bey is just a busy woman.
In her absence, her mother, Tina Knowles, stepped up to receive the award. As Miss Tina revealed, Bey hopped on a plane to London for the next stop of the Formation World Tour as soon as she left the stage. Essentially, she opened up some time in her schedule to swing through the BET Awards.
She later accepted the Viewer’s Choice Award, thanking Bey’s fans for being so supportive of her daughter over the years. She also gave a nod to the singer’s father, Mathew Knowles, for teaching Beyoncé how to build her brand. It was a very mom speech to give, and we loved it. On another note, we aspire to be half as stylish as Miss Tina was last night.
9. RIP, Muhammad Ali
Prince was not the only great we lost this year. Muhammad Ali passed away earlier this month and his presence is still deeply missed. BET took a moment to remember the boxing champ as Jamie Foxx introduce Ali’s daughter Laila Ali, who shared memories of her father and what he stood for.
10. Jesse Williams 2016 BET Humanitarian Award
Jesse Williams uses his voice for social justice proudly and at every opportunity. He brought the house to its feet with his powerful, incredibly conscious acceptance speech, where he honored Black women and demanded true equality.
“We are going to have equal rights and justice in our country, or we will restructure their function in ours,” he said, adding that anyone who tries to silence the #BlackLivesMatter Movement needs to have a seat. “If you have no interest in equal rights for Black people, then do not make suggestions for those who do. Sit down.”
He closed his speech, stating, “Just because we are magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Honorable Mention: Introducing The Next Wave
You’ve seen them on YouTube and heard them in Beyoncé’s Lemonade, but if you didn’t already know who Chloe X Halle is, you did once their performance was over. They are talented, young, and gorgeous sisters that Bey has taken under her wing. Expect to hear more from them.
Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals also supplied a performance that had the audience dancing in their seats and getting down like they were already at the BET Awards After Party.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty