BET Awards host party-like tribute to hip-hop, performance honoring legends like Takeoff, Markie
Jun 24, 2023, 9:29 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2023, 7:36 pm
(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 50 years of hip-hop with tributes to the genre’s earliest voices, late legends, and new talent during a performance-packed show that consistently felt like a party.
Sunday’s biggest surprise was a rare public performance by Quavo and Offset, the surviving members of Migos, who did a rendition of “Bad and Boujee” in front of an image of Takeoff, who died in a shooting last December. He was 28.
Throughout the show, whether it was Tupac, Warren G, Notorious B.I.G., Biz Markie or Pop Smoke, performers and emcee Kid Capri paid homage to late hip-hop stars, often by quickly highlighting a taste of their best-known hits. In a show where the awards are few and far between, Capri and BET kept the emphasis on the music.
Old school hip-hop heroes and modern stars mixed it up onstage, performing tracks celebrating rap’s most influential cities and innovation. For Miami, Trick Daddy and Trina rocked through “Nann” and Uncle Luke took on “I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown).” For Atlanta, Jeezy ripped through “They Know”, T.I. hit “24’s,” and Master P did “No Limit Soldiers” into “Make ‘Em Say Ugh.” And for hip-hop’s reggae influence, Jamaica’s Doug E. Fresh and Lil ’Vicious did an acapella version of “Freaks,” Mad Lion performed “Take It Easy,” and PATRA nailed “Romantic Call.”
Capri spun some of Tupac’s “Hail Marry” to tease a crash course on West Coast rap: Warren G’s “Regulate,” Yo-Yo’s “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo,” Tyga’s “Rack City”, and E-40’s “Tell Me When To Go.”
An ode to trap started with Capri spinning the late Pop Smoke’s “Dior”, before Chief Keef nailed “Faneto” and Ying Yang Twins did “Wait (The Whisper Song.”)
Audience members sang along (and a few hopped up on stage) while Capri and MC Lyte – both stationed behind turntables – keep the hostless show moving.
A masked Lil Uzi Vert opened the show at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on a platform suspended from the ceiling singing “Spin Again,” then shifted into a pyrotechnic-fueled version of “Just Wanna Rock.”
The show then jumped into a quick history lesson, with Capri walking the audience through a medley of the earliest days of New York City ’80s rap culture featuring The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” MC LYTE’s “Cha Cha Cha”, D-NICE’s “Call ME D-Nice” and Big Daddy Kane’s “Raw,” into a partial cover of “Just A Friend,” an homage to the late great Biz Markie.
“I would not be in this business on the stage tonight if it wasn’t for one person,” Big Daddy Kane said introducing the song. “Rest in peace.” He invited audience members to sing along to the song’s infectious chorus and point toward a photo of Markie shows on stage.
The coveted best new artist award went to Coco Jones, in a category which featured only female performers.
“For all of my black girls, we do have to fight a little harder to get what we deserve,” she said in her acceptance speech. “But don’t stop fighting even when it doesn’t make sense. And you’re not sure how you’re going to get out of those circumstances. Keep pushing because we are deserving of great things.”
It was followed by a supermarket-themed performance of AP’s pick for club song of the summer, Latto’s “Put It On Da Floor Again,” sans featured artist Cardi B but no less catchy. It ended with a text tribute: “RIP Shawty Lo,” a screen read.
Then, a vibe shift courtesy Jones, with a glamorous take on her soulful ballad “ICU,” featuring a string quartet.
Teyana “Spike Tey” Taylor won video director of the year, which was accepted by her mom Nikki Taylor – like a true matriarch, she interrupted the show to videocall her daughter and let her have the moment.
The show did a somber turn for its in memoriam tribute to Black luminaries, including jazz legend rapper Big Pokey, who died earlier this month.
Patti LaBelle then took the stage to honor the late Tina Turner with a performance of her hit “The Best.”
The show is airing live on BET, BET HER and numerous Paramount channels including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1.
Drake led the nominations, with seven: He’s up for best male hip-hop artist and male R&B/pop artist, as well as a few shared titles, including best collaboration and viewer’s choice with Future and Tems for their song “Wait for U.” Drake is also nominated for album of the year and best group for his collaboration with 21 Savage, “Her Loss,” and viewer’s choice for their hit “Jimmy Cooks.”
Lizzo and 21 Savage are tied for the second-most noms, with five each.
Busta Rhymes will take home the Lifetime Achievement Award — one of the highest honors at the ceremony, given to Sean “Diddy” Combs at Billboard Hot 100 hits to his name.
Bia, Coi Leray, Cutty Ranks, Dexta Daps, M.O.P., Rah Digga, ScarLip, Spice, Supercat, and Swizz Beatz are scheduled to pay tribute to Rhymes.
It’s one of several moments that honored the legacy of hip-hop, which BET has supported for decades through shows like “Rap City” and “106 & Park.”