The BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards are a testament to the celebration of black culture, art and success. At the arrival of each of the star-studded awards, legends of all jacks and trades gather to showcase the year’s artistic milestones. The 2019 BET Awards, just as in prior years, are devoted to showcasing black excellence — the best of the best.
Regina Hall hosted the black-tie affair with an ode to her fellow Washington D.C. residents, titled “Homegrown.” The open love letter to the city was introduced in a parody of Beyonce’s “Homecoming” documentary and carried out with an old school performance from James Funk (Rare Essence) and Gregory Elliot (Sugar Bear).
The actress openly told the audience about the D.C. she grew up loving and how much it has changed since being introduced to gentrification. “When I grew up, D.C. was chocolate city,” Hall joked. “Now with gentrification, it’s white chocolate city.”
As amusing as the D.C. native’s dad jokes and twerk fest were, the performance did not make the cut in the lineup for the best moments of the 2019 BET Awards.
Still, it was hard to narrow it down to these best 5.
1. The Nipsey Hussle Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech and Tribute
There was no shortage of tears shed as family members of the late Ermias Asghedom gathered to accept the artist’s Humanitarian Award on Sunday Night. Asghedom was gunned down and killed in front of his clothing store on March 31, 2019.
The rapper and actor Clifford Harris (T.I.) announced the award but not before remembering the life and accomplishments of Asghedom.
“Ermias ‘Nipsey Hussle’ Asghedom was more than a rapper, a teacher, activist and philanthropist,” Harris said. “He was a revolutionary. He was simply concerned with promoting human welfare and uplifting those around him. As a prolific artist, his lyrics and interviews are immensely powerful, but his actions spoke even louder.”
Cameras panned over to Asghedom’s daughter, Emani Asghedom, whom Lauren London comforted after Harris’ heartfelt remembrance of her father. Later, London joined other family members to accept Asghedom’s award.
“I just want to thank you guys for the love and support,” London said. “The marathon continues.”
Words could not begin to describe the strength of Asghedom’s family, especially the late rapper’s mother. Angelique Smith also stood upon the stage to accept the award and convey how she was able to heal after her son’s sudden death.
“Even though our bodies die on this side of eternity, our spirits live,” Smith remarked. “We live out of this vessel and we continue on.”
2. Lizzo’s Unapologetic Rendition of “Truth Hurts”
Lizzo showed up and showed out for her very first BET Awards performance. She performed her latest hit, “Truth Hurts,” on top of a large wedding cake to bring her music video to life.
Lizzo opened with, “BET, do you want some cake?”
The “Juice” star brought her swag to the stage as she belted out flawless vocals and performed the flute solo no one knew they needed in their life until now. Curves and fresh kicks galore graced the stage as Lizzo and her crew danced away societal expectations of what true beauty was. Even Rihanna had to stand and applaud the artist for her talent.
Lizzo wanted to celebrate body positivity for black women in the most flamboyant way possible. “We have this beautiful black wedding with all these beautiful, curvaceous women celebrating themselves and celebrating their love for themselves with a wedding ceremony,” the artist said in an exclusive BET interview. “It’s perfect. It’s a fantasy.”
The rock star also said that her main goal was to have fun. Lizzo did just that and managed to get the entire audience to join her on the incredible journey of shamelessly being themselves.
3. H.E.R. and YBN Cordae’s Performance Art Awakens and Uplifts the BET Awards
H.E.R., adorned in an all-black ensemble, plucked out chords on her bass, gradually preparing the audience for her raw performance of “Lord Is Coming.”
The Grammy winner led the audience into the song with an original spoken-word piece, alluding to the issues of the modern world, such as immigration policy, depression and mass shootings.
Some of my favorite lines from the provocative piece were these: “I never read the news anymore. It’s hard not to feel hopeless when no one noticed the explosion came from a man whose legal gun was loaded. It’s all watered down and sugar coated. And we voted, but did we really get to choose? We don’t need proof that they separate us from the truth.”
The performance was too moving to miss, and, for what it was worth, H.E.R.’s hit song is a light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus Bring Country Back
Not one person was in their seat as Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X rode their horses down the old town road. Literally.
Okay, okay. Maybe the country duo did not literally ride their horses down the old town road, but they definitely did ride their horses down the BET Awards blue carpet.
Lil Nas X was in an unforgettable get-up of yellow, tasseled leather as he performed “Old Town Road” alongside a country legend. The pair got the crowd on their feet as soon as they entered the makeshift saloon.
The No. 1 hit song livened up the crowd, and, for the duration of the performance, celebrities such as Cardi B and Terrance Howard can be seen actively singing along to the track.
5. Mary J. Blige’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Another honoree at this year’s past BET Awards was Mary J. Blige, who received the Lifetime Achievement award for her overwhelming success not only in music but through all of her endeavors.
The 48-year-old star accepted her award from Rihanna, who seemed to be enthralled with the R&B queen.
Blige gave a heartfelt speech about her journey and her attitude toward life. “I have so many people to thank because, when you have a lifetime of achievements, there is no way you could have done it alone,” Blige said. “People always ask, how do I sustain and stay relevant in this industry. It is because although I am a leader, a queen, a living legend — although I am all of these things, I am a servant as well. And I am here to serve.”
Blige wasted little to no time changing her outfit and giving the performance of a lifetime as she sang some of her most popular tunes. After that, Method Man and Lil’ Kim joined her onstage for a few throwback jams like “I Can Love You,” “All I Need” and “Real Love.”
The most poignant part of the performance had to be the chorus, echoing from the audience as they sang each and every song alongside Blige. It proved what a monumental difference the singer has made in music and the lives of many around her.