Summer may be nearing its end, but BET’s Hip Hop Awards season caught us up in the flames yet again and extended the heat even further into 2019.
This year’s celebration of music’s most trailblazing community of rap talents brought forth the most popularly earmarked names bubbling in Hollywood's circle for a night that hip-hop will never forget on October 5.
With performances from rap’s conqueror of summer ’19 and Houston’s Hot Girl phenomenon Megan Thee Stallion, Charlotte’s most triumphant rap riser DaBaby, DMV lyrical prodigy YBN Cordae and hip-hop and R&B virtuoso T-Pain, the stage escalated to new heightsfor the fieriest night of fall.
But as it bursts up in flames from rap's hottest performers, attendees and viewers went down in tears of laughter from this year’s comedy favorite and “Smile B**ch” sensation Lil Duval. For the most special guest and moment of the evening, Lil Kim’s “I Am Hip Hop Award” also rounded out the night as the music world crowned the decades-long legacy of the fashion icon and rap trailblazer.
The festivities aired for everyone to see on Tuesday, October 8, for those who didn't witness the greatness in real-time. In celebration of another successful ceremony, however, BET.com hit rewind on other remarkable moments from the last decade of the ceremony’s 13-year-history.
Check out some of our favorite performances, cyphers and stage-stopping experiences below:
Iconic, trailblazing, trendsetting and ceiling-breaking all in her own right, Lil Kim tucked a few surprises up her Gucci sleeves for the 2019 Hip Hop Awards. The Brooklyn rap icon accepted her I Am Hip Hop award, presented by Rick Ross, and stormed the stage with her greatest hits and collaborations known to the Queen Bee discography. The unarguably best jaw-dropping moment arrived when the whole Junior M.A.F.I.A. squad joined her for her stellar tributary performance, including Lil Cease, whom she recently buried the hatchet with after years at odds.
If hip-hop didn’t already see it coming, the Ladies Only cypher at the 2018 BET Hip-Hop Awards may surfaced right on-par with the tide of hip-hop’s current female-fronted wave taking over the rap game. Vetted lyricists and rising upstarts banded together to paint a celebratory ode toward Black women all over the world, flexing their lyrical aptitude in the process.
If there’s one rap pioneer that went unsung in 2017, it was Uncle Luke. But as the recipient of the 2017 I Am Hip-Hop Award, the Miami-bred and veteran emcee didn’t want to take all the glory. For his performance, his fellow Miamian Trick Daddy helped usher in the rise of Southern hip-hop from their turf in the country-fried Floridian marshes into the mainstream. DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Trina were also among the Miami recognitions for the show, all of which emerged from the city as top-tier hip-hop icons. Still, it was a long time coming for Luther Campbell, who helped pioneer the freak-nasty movement of the South and reminded the crowd with enough twerking to wobble the house down.
It’d be remiss to argue anyone had a better 2016 than Gucci Mane, who pulled off a comeback of a lifetime after a nearly two-year stint behind bars. New-and-improved as ever, Guwop extended his homecoming to the Hip-Hop Awards where the trap pioneer transformed the stage into a trapped out, icy psychedelic experience. Hip-hop heavyweights Young Thug, Travis Scott and Quavo joined him onstage where they shut the show down in an electrifying medley of some of their top trap hits.
Few words can encapsulate the magnitude of Scarface decades-long boundary-breaking career. As one of the earliest progenitors of hip-hop, the Houston-bred MC was the center of attention at the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards for the I Am Hip-Hop Honor. While Scarface was a man of few words, salutes and praise rained down from the rap community who had more than enough to say about the rap legend’s legacy, including salutes from Ludacris, MC Late and Ice T.
At the brink of his viral success, Bobby Shmurda was one of new age hip-hop’s most promising rap banger deliverers. Thus, BET invited him to the stage to keep the momentum up for the summer’s official bop anthem, “Hot Nigga.” Joined onstage by his GS9 squad, Bobby bolted the audience from their seats in one of the night’s most-talked-about moments as they rocked into the Bobby Shmurda-stamped Shmoney Dance.
Top Dawg Entertainment had all eyes on it’s then-burgeoning rap collective comprised of some of hip-hop’s most agile pensmiths Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad. It was perhaps was one of the Hip-Hop Awards most highly anticipated appearances — and TDE did not disappoint. For those in the know, the groundbreaking cadence from each artist was already expected, but it was still nothing short of remarkable to see the brothers-in-rhyme at work in their natural freestyle environment. The moment marked a pivotal breakthrough that catapulted to the forefront of hip-hop, scaling them to rap’s upper ranks and cementing the label’s talent on the map for the whole world to see— just in case the world was sleeping.
The ceasefire to 50 Cent and Fat Joe’s historic, complicated and complex beef landed right on the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards stage for the entire world to see and for a noble cause: the Chris Lighty tribute. The esteemed music executive and co-founder of hip-hop’s momentous Violator record label house passed away two months prior on August 30 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. His tragic death not only brought several names of hip-hop together in mourning and on the Hip Hop Awards stage to pay performance respects, but became the sanctum where Fif and Joey Crack laid their eight-year differences to rest as well.
Always a head-turner, Young Money reigning raptress Nicki Minaj sat on yet another throne for the Made-You-Look Award at 2011’s BET Hip-Hop Awards. From her pink cotton-candy afro and chicken wing chain to her mink eyelashes and kaleidoscopic tutus, Ms. Minaj magnetized eyes from hip-hop and beyond. Nicki’s consistent style and fashion elitism dubbed her a two-time winner of the accolade after taking home the award at the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards as well. Now an official capsule collection partner of luxury designer house Fendi, a magazine cover sweetheart to the brand’s late creative director Karl Lagerfeld, and one of the fashion world’s most sought-after music icons, Nicki is still making us look almost a decade later.
Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj not only share a Big Apple home turf as two of its most influential rap stars, but by the skin of their teeth, almost shared a number of trophies from the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Hov snatched the crown for Best Hip-Hop Video and Reese’s Perfect Combo with his Alicia Keys-assisted “Empire State of Mind” record as well as Best Live Performer and CD of the Year for The Blueprint 3. The Barbie mounted her award closet with the Rookie of the Year, Made-You-Look and Verizon’s People’s Champ wins.
Talk about G.O.A.T. statues.
As one of the most hilarious comedians to ever grab the mic, BET nabbed one of Hollywood’s capital kings of laughs, Mike Epps, to host the 2009 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Critically-acclaimed for his roles in Ice Cube’s Next Friday and Friday After Next blockbusters, Mike was placed right in his stand-up element among a crowd of hip-hop heads adding the perfect flare of the purest rawest Black comedy to the ceremony. BET will continue this top-rated humorist tradition when Lil Duval takes the stage this Saturday (Oct. 5) for the 2019 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Let’s see if he can top funny man Mike a decade later, though.
(Photos from left: Prince Williams/Wireimage, Chris McKay/Getty Images, Paras Griffin/FilmMagic)