Any award show's success can be directly tied to its hosts, and the BET Hip Hop Awards aren’t any different. Over the course of its 14 years in operation, the show has had its fair share of comedians and artists who have curated massive experiences for the audience while, at the same time, keeping them interested in every award given out on stage. It’s a complicated process, to host and be memorable, but everyone — from Katt Williams’ hilarious first year to Lil Duval’s wild turn last year — has been able to keep their turns at the center of the cultural conversation. That’s a testament to their entertainment prowess and the strength of hip-hop itself.
Today, we’re recapping our favorite host moments that either made us laugh or appreciate the beauty of hip-hop even more. Check out the list below:
Mike Epps as President Barack Obama
Mike Epps’ side-splitting, down-to-earth humor kept the audience of the 2012 BET Awards laughing from the start of the night to the end. In one of his best moments, he kicked off the awards with a top-notch impression of former President Barack Obama and showcased a similar charismatic flair. Epps’ Obama starred in a presidential address where he welcomed viewers at home, and the attendees at the Atlanta Civic Center to the night of celebrating the world’s most important musical culture.
“I know you’re looking at me like, ‘Why does he have a goatee?’” Epp said, channeling Obama’s one-hand raised manner of speech. “Well, I’ve been hanging out with 2 Chainz for a minute. That’s right.” Through the crowd's roaring laughter, he continued to talk about Obama's former running adversary, Mitt Romney. “You're not about that life,” he said. “You saw what I did to the rest of those haters. That’s the shit I don’t like. You can’t hold me back! These Republicans can’t hold me back!” Leave it to Epps to leave the crowd in stitches.
Lil Duval made an anthem for the City Boyz
Lil Duval’s tenure as the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards host was marked with an array of hilarious moments, but the funniest part of the whole show was when he performed with TOM. G and KaMillion for an official City Boys anthem. Wearing a marching band’s outfit, the comedian grooved across the stage with a song that played on the City Girls’ name and style. He showed that while the City Girls triumph over the Hot Boys, the City Boys are another group to contend with entirely.
What made the moment even cooler was that he created a “City Boy” dance that involved getting low on the floor and moving your arms. According to YouTube comments, his move is a play on a popular dance from Florida, so it’s clear that Duval did his research as he was crafting this anthem for the City Boys. It may be an entire year later, but this timeless moment will beforever etched in our memories.
DeRay Davis is such a freaking host, you love it
Kanye West and Lil Pump’s “I Love It” came out in September of 2018 and immediately went viral off the strength of its absurd video featuring the two rappers in ridiculous costumes. Bobbing their shoulders in what looks like the kind of loungewear that SpongeBob Squarepants would wear around the house, they follow comedian Adele Givens down a hallway while trying not to get caught dancing behind her back. It’s absurd, but totally in the realm of what to expect from West.
At the 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards, comedian DeRay Davis parodied the video and song with his rendition featuring the chorus, “I’m such a freaking host, you love it.” He came out on stage in — you guessed it — a massive remake of Kanye’s outfit for one hilarious show. While flanked with amped-up backup dancers, Davis performed his unique l dance moves while rapping, “I’m a sick host, I like a quick roast.” The crowd couldn’t contain themselves from their fits of convulsive laughs.
DJ Khaled spits a hot sixteen
When DJ Khaled hosted the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, he brought out the stars for one-of-a-kind experiences that only could be possible with him controlling the strings. He offered the adlibs for the BET Hip Hop Awards Instabooth series of freestyles in a moment that was distinctly him.. From Russ to Papoose, Khaled’s ad-libs appeared in sporadic bunches to give the off-the-top domes some extra flavor.
What made the moment even sweeter was when Khaled himself hopped onto the microphone showing everybody that he could hold his own around so many elite lyricists.
“I’m the original, F the imposter!” he screamed into the microphone while waving his hands, with the phrase being of his original bars that made Big Tigger, who was standing behind him, cackle with excitement. We learned a lot about DJ Khaled at the awards, but now we know that he could hop on the track whenever he wanted. Maybe that’s something to look out for in the future.
Snoop Dogg’s masterful medley
This last one is a cheat, but rounding up the best Snoop Dogg moments from his three-year stretch as the host of BET Hip Hop Awards (from 2013 to 2015) is nearly impossible to do. So, instead of a hosting moment, we’re going for a host-inclusive moment, and suddenly the job becomes easier: when he performed his outstanding career-spanning set at the end of the 2018 Hip-Hop Awards. We saw all sides of the rapper and even went to church, figuratively.
The former host of the BET Hip Hop Awards knew what kind of creative flair to bring to the stage since he’d been the one the stage years before, so what he decided to do felt perfectly crafted for the stage. He started with a rousing rendition of “Who Am I? (What’s My Name)” before going into “The Next Episode.” He eventually broke out into a gospel-influenced track, “Sunrise,” that kept the crowd rocking. He did it in ways that only a former host could.
The 2020 Hip Hop Awards will air on BET October 21 at 8/9c.