From Ye to Monáe, the 5 moments that stole the 2022 BET Awards show
The 2022 BET Awards ceremony on Sunday saw plenty of young artists pay their respects to veteran performers, as well as nationwide hot topics like Roe vs. Wade and gun safety.
Returning to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, the star-powered show was hosted by “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson, who said the evening was meant to celebrate “Black excellence.” The ceremony kicked off with Lizzo’s electric performance of her summer hit “It’s About Damn Time,” which included the singer’s viral, TikTok-famous choreography.
Here’s a look at some of the night’s other key moments:
Janelle Monáe flips off the U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision was front of mind for Henson, attendees, winners and even the show’s “in memoriam” segment. And musician Janelle Monáe was among those who boldly blasted the court’s overturning of the landmark case and what it means for abortion rights, women and pregnant people across the country.
Taking the stage to present the award for female R&B/pop artist, Monáe recognized Black Music Month and Pride Month at the start of her remarks, shouting out to “all the gays in the house” then bolstering the artists “making art on our own terms, owning our truth and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a world that tries to control and police our bodies, my body, our decisions, my decision.”
Lil Nas X went to war with the BET Awards after he wasn’t nominated. But it was a bevy of surprises during the show that took center stage.
The “I Like That” singer then let an F-bomb fly, even though it was censored during the telecast.
“F— you, Supreme Court,” Monáe said, holding up her middle finger. “I know we’re celebrating us right now, as we should. We absolutely deserve to celebrate, especially now we must celebrate our art by protecting our right and our truths.”
Monáe then presented the award to Jazmine Sullivan, who spoke “directly to the men” during her speech.
“We need y’all. We need y’all to stand up, stand up for us, stand up with us. If you’ve ever benefitted from a woman making one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to terminate a pregnancy, you need to be standing. This is not just a woman’s issue. This is everybody’s issue. We need your support more than ever,” Sullivan said.
Ye nearly eclipses Diddy
Veteran performers Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Shyne, Faith Evans, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, the Lox and even Diddy himself performed an all-star tribute to the Bad Boy Records founder. Sean “Diddy” Combs was the evening’s recipient of the ceremony’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Ye, the latter of whom has been flying under the radar since April after abruptly withdrawing from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival amid a spate of personal issues.
Ye’s appearance — though heavily shrouded by his sartorial selection — marked his first awards show gig since being barred from the Grammy Awards earlier this year.
Rapper and singer Lil Nas X called out the BET Awards after not receiving a single nomination for the second year in a row.
“I took a little hiatus. I said, ‘I just want to declare myself legally dead for a year. Nobody missing me. I just want to be off the grid. You know ...But Puff is pretty persistent,” Ye said in his signature rambling style, explaining why he was there.
“If Puff ever need us, we need to jump and be there. This man has been through and survived a lot of stuff, broke down a lot of doors so we could be standing — I know for me, that I could be here today.”
The “Heartless” rapper, who has legally changed his name from Kanye West, said that he emerged on Sunday to support his longtime friend and “favorite artist” and riled up the crowd when he seemingly referred to his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, even though she was declared legally single in March during their protracted divorce proceedings
“Back then it was so many rules to hip-hop and he broke all of them. And broke down all the doors and understood contracts in a way a lot of us still don’t. Understood money in a way a lot of us still don’t. I go to him for advice till this day. He inspires so many of my choices, so many of my life choices, my wife choices,” Ye said to a cheering crowd and adding with a chuckle, “And here we are ... thanks for that, Puff.”
Mariah Carey has that ‘Big Energy’ with Latto
Latto, who was crowned the evening’s best new artist and also lamented the overturning of Roe, has been climbing the charts with “Big Energy,” which samples Mariah Carey’s hit 1995 single “Fantasy.” During the show, the Atlanta rapper started off her performance with a smoke and noir-themed rendition of “It’s Givin” leading up to “Big Energy,” which began as it usually does — until she rapped “Hold up / Got Mimi on the remix,” making way for the newly minted Songwriters Hall of Fame siren to take the stage to sing the upbeat jam.
The surprise collaboration got the crowd —including Lizzo and Brandy — to its feet.
The Brandy-Jack Harlow collab we didn’t know we needed
Speaking of Brandy, the ‘90s hitmaker was also among the surprise performers.
On Sunday, she reintroduced herself to Jack Harlow’s young fans after the “Industry Baby”-featured rapper snubbed her during a May interview, relegating the R&B darling to being “Ray J’s sister.” While performing “First Class” on Sunday, Harlow stepped aside to allow the “Sitting Up in My Room” and “I Wanna Be Down” singer to rap her freestyle response — that he apparently loved — and lay more groundwork for her nascent rap career.
Jussie Smollett hits the red carpet after serving jail time
Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett walked the red carpet at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday apparently to promote his directorial debut on BET+, “B-Boy Blues” — his first major gig since being convicted and serving time for lying to Chicago police in 2019.
The 2015 BET Award nominee served six days of his 150-day sentence for felony disorderly conduct and was released from jail in March. Although he has maintained his innocence, not everyone was happy to see the embattled actor-musician who is believed to have orchestrated a hate crime against himself.
Smollett, who recently said he didn’t realize how broad the backlash against him was, was dragged on Twitter for Sunday’s appearance with memes and pointed tweets, many of which called out the network for helping him mount a comeback.
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