The BET Awards 2021 (originally telecast on Sunday, June 27) was billed to be a true celebration of the “Year of the Black Woman,” showcasing some of the most brilliant musicians, actors, and humanitarians of our time and it did not disappoint. The nearly four hour show celebrated powerful Black women in entertainment, showcased today's most popular acts , and even made way for some artists to to send a message with their. One that was received loud and clear: we hear and see you, Lil Nas X.
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The show was hosted by the incomparable Taraji P. Henson, who is not only an award-winning actress and producer, but also an activist--dedicating her time to remove the stigma around mental illness in the Black community. Her witty banter, awesomely creative costume changes, and genuine fandom for the artists made her the perfect person to lead the show. And it’s not just any old body who can make Method Man laugh, but Henson has that unique quality that makes her loveable to all.
If you missed any of the major performances or want to relive some of your favorite moments from "culture's biggest night," have no fear. Here’s a rundown of all of the dynamic performances at BET Awards 2021.
Gospel legend Kirk Franklin and rap phenom Lil Baby started the show on a joyful note with their song “We Win,” the first single from the soundtrack of the upcoming film Space Jam: A New Legacy. Franklin hyped up the crowd in his energetic way, yelling, “Get up if you’re glad to be alive!”
Lil Baby was spitting inspirational bars in his first BET Awards performance ever, with lyrics like, “We will be better than ever/Made a promise we can do it together/And I ain’t breakin my word/I just wish that I could fly like a bird/Get away from this earth/Had to pray a prayer felt I was cursed.”
For more on Kirk Franklin and Lil Baby, click here
Migos’ BET Awards 2021 performance became one of the most talked-about moments of the night when Cardi B took the stage to rap her verse in “Type S**t,” her collab on Migos’ latest album. During her unannounced appearance, Cardi showed off her baby bump, informing us that she’s pregnant with her second child by husband Offset. Though the pregnancy reveal was arguably the biggest surprise of the night, fans of the rap couple are used to seeing them share the stage.
For more on Carid B and Offset, click here.
Singer, songwriter, and musician H.E.R. rocked the BET Awards 2021 with an energetic performance of her latest single, “We Made It.” The exceptional musician began her set descending onto the stage from the ceiling while playing the drums on a platform. She then joined her masked backup dancers on the main stage.
Ending the set with an intense guitar solo, H.E.R. jumped around the stage before playing the last notes behind her back.
For more on H.E.R., click here.
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Moneybagg started his performance with a few bars of his song “Wockesha,” backed up by dancers who wore purple “Wockesha” jerseys. He then launched into his Billboard Top 40 hit, “Time Today,” rapping the infectious hook, ““I just looked at my wrist, I got time today/I’m crossing the line today.”
For more on Moneybagg Yo, click here
DaBaby’s new song “Ball If I Want To” came alive on the BET Awards stage with a thrilling basketball-themed performance. The show came complete with his own DaBaby themed court floors, twerking cheerleaders, acrobats who flipped in the air before slam dunking balls and his giant mascot, whose rather ironic name is Little Buddy.
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The cameras strained to contain the explosive energy of this performance, which began with the rapper seated in the crowd and was over in a flash — after all, “Ball If I Want To” clocks in at just under two minutes.
For more on DaBaby, click here.
ICYMI Megan thee Stallion proved she isn’t here to play around. Before winning the award for "Best Female Hip Hop Artist,” Meg showed the world all that she’s working with by giving an evocative performance of her latest single, “Thot Sh*t,” at the BET Awards 2021.
The Houston rapper opened her performance wearing a black veil and a serious demeanor. Her rendition of “Thot Sh*t” followed in the same vein, with Megan and her backup dancers dressed in all black leather.
Megan performed her rap like she was speaking directly to her haters, spitting out hard bars like, “I’m the sh*t per the Recording Academy.”
For more in Megan Thee Stallion, click here.
The 30-year-old turned his hit single “Lumberjack,” into living theater by recreating the outdoor set from its music video. The rapper started the show riding along in an old-school luxury car during a windstorm. He then got out of the car in front of a CGI house and checked a mailbox, before he and the house were blown away by the storm.
For more on Tyler the Creator, click here.
Jazmine Sullivan’s new song “Tragic” samples Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ prized phrase “reclaiming my time,” but simply playing that recording live on stage at the BET Awards 2021 wasn’t going to cut it. Instead, a glowing Waters herself joyously delivered those words at the beginning of Sullivan’s performance!
Ari Lennox then joined Sullivan for “On It,” which, like “Tragic,” is taken from Sullivan’s latest album Heaux Tales. It’s her first collection of new music in six years and celebrates subverting the patriarchy and reveling in the power and potency of all things woman. The duo recited the naughty lyrics of “On It” with consummate style, class, and zero shame.
Fore more on Jazmine Sullivan, click here.
Last year, when Roddy Ricch took the BET Awards stage to perform “High Fashion" the Compton rapper did not disappoint. This year was no different as he delivered a chillingly powerful rendition of his latest single "Late at Night." Sporting an-all-white suit and surrounded by a live band of musicians and back-up dancers, Ricch’s performance was both understand and powerful, aw well as a clear homage to Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
For more on Roddy Rich, click here.
Lil Nas X’s sensational BET Awards 2021 performance was flawless, went off without a hitch. But that doesn’t mean the “MONTERO” rapper was feeling as confident on the inside as he looked on the outside.
Nas X, who just announced his debut album, titled after his hit track “MONTERO,” is “coming soon,” along with the single, “Industry Baby,” spilled the tea on Twitter about how he felt during the performance. While thanking his fans and supporters, Lil Nas X shared that he was nervous before the iconic kiss at the end of the performance.
“It took me a lot of time to mentally prepare for this performance,” he said, revealing that as unabashed as he may seem by the way he challenges convention and breaks boundaries, he’s a regular person with insecurities and fears, just like the rest of us.
For more on Lil Nas X, click here.
When Bruno Mars embarked on a European tour in 2017, his opening act of choice was Anderson .Paak, the effusive award-winning singer, rapper, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from California. Flash forward four years, and the two have formed a sexy and soulful supergroup called Silk Sonic, who delighted vaccinated fans with an intimate performance inside The Nuvo at L.A. Live for the BET Awards.
Strutting down the club’s velvet-roped red carpet, the duo sang their irresistible debut single “Leave the Door Open” to a throng of swooning ladies, some of whom proudly waved Silk Sonic signs. Clad in crisp, seventies-style wide-collared suits (Mars in pretty pink and .Paak in verdant green), they teased everyone by asking if they wanted a taste of the next music to come from their forthcoming debut album, An Evening with Silk Sonic.
For more on Silk Sonic, click here.
The City Girls have hit the music world hard over the last few years, showcasing their distinctive Miami sound while collaborating with everyone from Saweetie and Jhené Aiko to Ciara and Lupita Nyong'o. Nominated in 2019 and 2020 for the BET Award for Best Group, this duo was nominated again this year at BET Awards 2021 and their performance showcased how much these girls just wanna have fun.
Performing their latest summer banger, “Twerkulator,” JT and Yung Miami had the stage packed with twerk-off dancers showcasing who had the skills to bring the other to their knees.
For more on the City Girls, click here.
The BET Awards 2021 tribute to Queen Laitfah was one of the grandest moments of the night. Audiences went wild when legendary rappers Lil Kim, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and Rapsody all gathered to pay respect for the one woman who paved the way for all other female MCs to come. They performed a collection of the Queen’s hit songs including “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.” Each of these iconic rappers have connections to the Queen, either through features on hit records or enduring friendships.
For more on the Queen Latifah tribute, click here.
DJ Khaled’s star-studded BET Awards 2021 performance included a near reunion between Megan thee Stallion and DaBaby both who graced the stage, one week after the two exchanged words on Twitter. It was the talk of the performance after Megan spit her powerful bars and left the stage immediately after finishing her part from “I Did It,” her collaboration with Khaled, Lil Baby, and DaBaby. She was offstage by the time DaBaby appeared for his verse and was nowhere to be seen with the remaining performers, which included a guitar assist from H.E.R. at the end.
For more on the DJ Khaled all-star performance, click here.
Though it’s been 82 years since Billie Holiday released the song “Strange Fruit,” Andra Day demonstrated live on the BET Awards stage how its somber, anti-lynching message is still as relevant today as when Holiday released the iconic track back in 1939.
The leading role of a lifetime came to Day, an R&B star whose debut album Cheers to the Fall came out in 2015, with 2021’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday. The film catapulted her once-fledgling acting career and earned her an Academy Award nomination, a win at the Golden Globes, and the evening’s highly coveted BET Awards 2021 win for Best Actress.
For more on Andra Day, click here.
Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Swizz Beatz, The Lox and Griselda took to the stage at the BET Awards 2021 to pay tribute to the late hip hop legend DMX, (real name Earl Simmons) with an electrifying performance that brought back the last 20 years of his hits.
Method Man opened with an acapella flow laden with DMX’s spirit before he handed the stage off to Griselda, who then fired off a rendition of “Where The ‘Hood At,” followed by a medley of DMX and Ruff Ryders anthems including his signature his “Party Up (Up In Here)" led by Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz.
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In the middle of the performance came actor Michael K. Williams, known for his roles on "The Wire" and "Lovecraft Country," who showed out with his flow in honor of Darkman X. Not only did Williams embody X’s spirit, but he also looked strikingly similar to the departed rap legend.
For more on the DMX tribute, click here.
Lil Naz X’s photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET; Megan Thee Stallion’s photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET; H.E.R.’s photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET; and Da Baby’s photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET