Sunday night’s virtual awards ceremony for the BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards in the US was a politically charged event, with artists using their pre-recorded performances to highlight social injustice, racism, and the Black Lives Matter protests.
Read on to watch some of the best videos of the night, including performances from Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and rapper DaBaby.
DaBaby & Roddy Rich – Rockstar
DaBaby (who won Best Male Hip Hop Artist) performed a powerful rendition of the Black Lives Matter remix of his song Rockstar, rapping while kneeling on the ground with a white police officer kneeling on his neck – a clear reference to the final moments of George Floyd, whose death sparked riots and protests across the globe.
Alicia Keys – Perfect Way To Die
Alicia Keys gave a heartrending performance of Perfect Way To Die, a song told from the perspective of a mother whose child has died as a result of police brutality. Set in an empty street, at the end of the song Keys takes a knee – a symbol of fighting racism – before the camera pulls back to the reveal the names of individuals who have been killed by the police, written in chalk on the ground.
Jennifer Hudson – Young, Gifted & Black
Jennifer Hudson gave us a taster of her upcoming portrayal of soul legend Aretha Franklin in the film biopic Respect, performing Franklin’s anthem Young, Gifted & Black. In the clip released by the BET Awards, she sings with four Black backing singers, before a clip from the film plays.
Lil Wayne – Kobe Bryant
Lil Wayne paid tribute to the NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died earlier this year in January, with a rendition of his 2009 track Kobe Bryant set against a clips compilation of Bryant’s best court highlights. Near the end of the song, the camera pulled out to reveal Lil Wayne singing against a backdrop of lightbulbs that spell “Mamba” (Bryant’s nickname was the Black Mamba).
John Legend – Never Break
John Legend performed his ballad Never Break, which includes a rousing and now prescient chorus that proclaims, “We will never break”.
Speaking about the song, Legend previously told Apple Music, “I wrote [“Never Break”] with Mr Hudson, Nasri, and Greg Wells back in early 2019, and who knew how meaningful it would be now, during the pandemic and protests and all these things? It’s an ode to love and hope and resilience, and the power of the human spirit, and I felt like it was the perfect way to close the album.”
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.