11 Blackest Moments from the 2016 BET Awards
The 2016 BET Awards was the blackest yet. And we’ve pulled together a list of its blackest moments for your enjoyment. You’re welcome.
1. Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar performing “Freedom”
We knew we were in for something special right from the beginning when African inspired dancers marched to the stage and Beyoncé appeared. She chose to sing Lemonade‘s black power anthem “Freedom”, and absolutely slayed the stage. Then Kendrick Lamar rose out of the floor to spit his verse before the two joined on a water covered stage. Stomping and splashing never looked so fierce.
2. Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson doing Hamilton with Anthony Hamilton
Ross and Anderson make a great pair, whether it’s on Black-ish or as awards show hosts. And in their opening monologue, they performed some of the year’s most popular songs in a Hamilton inspired form. It was hilarious enough to see them performing “Panda” in Victorian attire, but when Anthony Anderson brought Anthony Hamilton along, the funny went off the charts.
3. Taraji P. Henson’s “Lemonade Rules”
If I’m honest, this bit went way too long and wasn’t funny at all. However, Taraji P. Henson swinging a bat on stage while in her gown was definitely one of the blackest moments of the night. This was only exacerbated when she mentioned “Becky with the good hair” and the BET cameras found an actual “Becky” in the audience.
4. Maxwell’s Meme Making Moment
In the un-funniness of Taraji P. Henson’s Lemonade jokes, Black Twitter struck new gold. The audience was clearly unimpressed with what she had to give, and cameras caught Maxwell’s face telling the whole story. For all you frequent tweeters, make sure you add this meme to your collection.
5. Erykah Badu forgetting the words during her Prince tribute
In the first of many tribute performance to the late and great Prince, Erykah Badu took the stage to sing “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” from 1987’s classic Sign O’ the Times LP with The Roots behind her. And in true Badu form, she gave a soulful jazz performance for the ages while also managing to flub the words. It wasn’t cute but, luckily, Bilal came out to save her performance.
6. Spike Lee’s Purple Top Hat and Tie Combination
Throughout the night, the cameras spotlighted the various celebrities in the audience. And the biggest eyesore of them all had to be Spike Lee. His outfit was clearly meant to honor prince, including various splashes of purple and even his symbol, but it all came together to look more like a Prince-inspired Mad Hatter.
7. Samuel L. Jackson’s Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech
The stereotype is that black people are required to thank God in their acceptance speeches. And Samuel Leroy Jackson did that, of course. But he also took things to the next level by thanking his accountants for making sure he pays his taxes and thanking his aunties in the audience. This is a new black rubric other celebrities should take note of.
8. Beyoncé’s Absence From the Award Show
We already know that Beyoncé is too busy grindin’ and makin’ paper to sit for hours through an awards show. Half the time when she “performs” during them, she’s at a remote location. So it was a huge deal that she actually was in the building for her performance of “Freedom”. Too bad she cut out quickly afterward, leaving her mother there to collect her two wins for her.
9. Tina Knowles’ Acceptance Speeches
It’s not that often that someone accepting an award on someone else’s behalf actually has a speech to give, but Tina Knowles did it twice. Among her words were thanks to Beyoncé’s father for teaching Beyoncé the music business and to the fans for voting her the winner of the Viewer’s Choice Award because “That’s Wassup”. This woman is perfect.
10. Sheila E.’s Closing Performance
Sheila E. was pissed when Linda Perry suggested she wasn’t relevant enough to perform a Prince tribute at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. So we all knew that she was going to pull out all the stops at the 2016 BET Awards. And she did. She performed a dizzying array of songs while singing, dancing, drumming, and serving heat as she closed out the show. She left it all on the stage and whether you were in the room or watching at home, you felt it.
11. Jesse Williams’ #BlackLivesMatter Sermon
We already covered this at length, but Jesse Williams’ Humanitarian Award acceptance speech was peak blackness. He dropped successive bombs, calling out whiteness and white people while also challenging us all to not let injustice thrive. And then he capped it off with this word: “Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
This year was great all-around and set a new standard for the show. What were your favorite moments? Tell us in the comments below!
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