The superstars of black entertainment came out in force last night to celebrate the 16th annual BET awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.
In case your ticket got lost in the mail, SpiceUK recap our favourite moments from the most slay-worthy evening in showbiz:
1. Beyoncé Dazzles In a Performance with Kendrick Lamar
Complete with smoke and a pool of water, Beyoncé opened the show with a surprise performance of “Freedom” from her latest musical masterpiece, Lemonade. Prefaced by an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” the reflective tone of the performance was quickly re-energised as rapper Kendrick Lamar joined Bey and co. in the pool; splashing, kicking and stomping up one storm of a show.
If you needed more proof of Beyoncé’s unrivalled musical reign, she was also the evening’s big winner with four awards out of five nominations (including best female R&B/pop artist, video of the year for “Formation” and Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice). Her mother Tina Knowles accepted the awards on Beyoncé’s behalf as the singer hopped a plane to London for the start of her international Formation tour.
2. Jesse Williams’ touching speech about Black Lives Matter
The actor and producer made the speech after being honoured with BET’s Humanitarian Award for his activism, having protested in Ferguson, written extensively on Black Lives Matter, and speaking with Obama earlier this year to discuss the issue.
“This award is not for me,” he said. “This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activist, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.”
Referencing Eric Garner and Sandra Bland in his speech, he continued:
“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold! — ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.”
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Watch his full speech here
3. Justin Timberlake Gets Shut Down on Twitter
Okay, so it didn’t occur at the awards, but chances are Justin sure wished he was anywhere else that didn’t have a wifi connection.
It all started with this seemingly innocent tweet following Jesse Williams’ speech:
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
Twitter soon blew up, with some accusing him of hypocrisy, cultural appropriation, shading Prince and even unleashing the skeletons in his closet by criticising him for abandoning Janet Jackson in her time of need following her now infamous wardrobe malfunction at the SuperBowl.
Justin tried to extinguish the fire with this hippy-tweet:
I apologize to anyone that felt I was out of turn. I have nothing but LOVE FOR YOU AND ALL OF US.
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) June 27, 2016
4. Stars pay tribute to Prince
Stevie Wonder, Roots, Jennifer Hudson Erykah Badu and Sheila E were among those who paid tribute to pop legend, Prince, in a stellar performance. The Prince tributes were started by Erykah Badu who sang The Ballad of Dorothy Parker from Sign O’ the Times. Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly teamed up for the Prince/Apollonia duet from Purple Rain, Take Me With U. They were then joined on stage by Jennifer Hudson who sang the song Purple Rain. Janelle Monae performed Kiss, Delirious and I Would Die 4 U, Bilal sang The Beautiful Ones and Maxwell sang Nothing Compares 2 U.The show finished with Prince collaborator Sheila E leading a 10-minute montage of Prince songs.
She was joined on stage by actor Jerome Benton, who starred in the film Purple Rain, and Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia.
They ended the show by raising a purple guitar in the air while flower petals fell from the ceiling.
5. Everyone Got Political
Whoever said showbiz was trivial? Taraji P. Henson and lifetime achievement award honoree Samuel L. Jackson were among those who stressed the importance of registering to vote in this year’s US Presidential elections.
Usher made no qualms about who he was definitely not voting for, wearing an emblazoned jacket reading “Don’t Trump America,” during his performance, featuring new song “No Limit” with Young Thug.
Samuel L. Jackson applauded Jesse Williams for his speech, calling him “the closest thing I’ve seen to a 1960s activist.”
Jackson even weighed in on the EU referendum, warning the US public on the dangers of not voting: “When you hear what he said, make sure you vote and you take eight more people with you to vote, OK? Don’t get tricked like they got tricked in London!” A somewhat comical example of, for the first time possibly ever, using the UK as an example to the US of what not to do.
6. Muhammad Ali honoured by daughter and Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx took to the stage to pay tribute to boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, but it was Ali’s youngest daughter, Laila Ali, who had the crowd weeping:
My father lived his life with conviction and purpose,” she said, “But to me and my eight sisters and brothers he was just Dad. As his youngest daughter, I can tell you that he was also a loving, gentle and principled man. He believed in evolving in his beliefs and his ideas.”
She continued, “My father always said, ‘The man who views the world at 50 the same way as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.’ As my dad grew older he evolved in his mind, his heart and his spirit but one thing that never changed was his love and gratitude for all people.”
7. The Winners
Among the big winners were (obviously) Beyoncé, walking away with four gongs, and (also obvs) Drake, winning Best Male Hip Hop artists, and winning awards for his collaborative work with Rihanna and Future. Here’s the full list of winners:
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist: Bryson Tiller
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist — Beyoncé
Best Actor — Michael B. Jordan
Best Actress — Taraji P. Henson
Best Movie — “Straight Outta Compton”
Best New Artist — Bryson Tiller
Video of the Year — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist – Drake
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist — Nicki Minaj
Best Collaboration — Rihanna ft. Drake, “Work”
Best Group — Drake and Future
Best Gospel — Kirk Franklin
Youngsters Award — Amandla Stenberg
Centric Award — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Video Director of the Year — Director X
Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Inspirational Award — Kirk Franklin
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Sportsman of the Year — Stephen Curry
Sportswoman of the Year — Serena Williams
Best International Act Africa — Wizkid (Nigeria)
Best International Act U.K. — Skepta
Humanitarian Award — Jesse Williams
Lifetime Achievement Award — Samuel L. Jackson