The BET Awards don’t broadcast most of the awards they give out, so with each televised performance and award presentation, the show’s producers were crafting a narrative for the night.
And Sunday’s awards show, presented at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, inspired a handful of moments worth revisiting.
Nipsey Hussle’s memory is alive and well
Leading up to the 2019 BET Awards, it was announced that Hussle would be posthumously receiving the Humanitarian Award. Coming just months after the rapper’s killing in March, it was destined to be an emotional moment.
The award was introduced by rapper T.I., who called Hussle “a real one, a true king” before a video tribute highlighted the good the rapper had done for his community.
Hussle’s family accepted the award on his behalf, including his partner, actress Lauren London; his son Kross Asghedom; his mother, Angelique Smith, and his father, Dawit Asghedom.
“I just want to thank you guys for all of the love and support, and the marathon continues again,” said London.
Smith retold the gripping events that took place on the day of her son’s death and the spirituality behind them.
The affecting acceptance speech was then followed by a performance of Hussle’s “Real Big,” “Last Time That I Checked” and “Higher” by John Legend, DJ Khaled, YG, Mustard and Marsha Ambrosius.
Lil Nas X is riding high
Lil Nas X was having a good night even before he performed. He tweeted a picture of himself with Rihanna before the start of the show.
Wearing a yellow and black western outfit, Lil Nas X looked 100% y’all-ed up when he performed his smash hit, “Old Town Road,” with country star Billy Ray Cyrus.
After getting past a rocky start by Cyrus, the 20-year-old rapper commanded the stage and the audience from the moment he put “the horses in the back.”
Shots of the audience during this song showed almost everyone in attendance singing and dancing along, making this one of the most well-received acts of the night.
Mary J. Blige is the legend we need
Rihanna was on hand to introduce Blige, presenting her the Lifetime Achievement award.
“Thank you for being you so we could feel comfortable being ourselves,” Rihanna said to Blige before a video tribute played in her honor.
It would have been enough for Blige to accept her award with the grace and confidence that she did. But she then performed a nine-song, career-spanning set featuring Lil Kim and Method Man.
The Exonerated Five and H.E.R’s snap-worthy performance
The Central Park Five, subjects of Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” showed up to the show to introduce H.E.R, but not before they received a standing ovation. Host Regina Hall called the group by a new and more accurate name, “The Exonerated Five.”
At last year’s BET Awards, H.E.R gave a memorable, guitar-led performance, but on Sunday, she opted for a stand-up bass and slam poetry.
She was joined by rapper YBN Cordae to perform “Lord Is Coming,” which included a free form-style poem about the world’s justices and injustices.
“We don’t need proof that they separate us from the truth, mothers and fathers are being separated from their youth,” she sang.
Cardi B doesn’t need more ‘Press’
Since the release of 2018’s “Invasion of Privacy,” Cardi B has become one of the most popular and profitable rappers and personalities in the business.
Along with husband and fellow rapper Offset, she opened the show with a performance of “Clout” and “Press,” both of which included elaborate dance routines.
Only a few minutes after her opening number, the Bronx rapper was awarded album of the year, proving that she still reigns supreme.
Tyler Perry wants to be an inspiration
Director, actor and producer Perry was honored with the Ultimate Icon award in honor of how his work has continuously empowered black artists.
“Rather than an icon, I want to be an inspiration,” he said in his acceptance speech.
He also told the powerful story of how Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios are located on land once owned by the Confederate army and how proud it made him to know that a black man now possessed the land.
Perry’s advice to those who hope to one day be as successful as he has made himself? “I don’t care how much money you have: Work like you’re broke.”