Every year at the BET Hip Hop Awards, the hottest and most culture-defining rappers hit the stage for high octane performances of their most current hits. But just as exciting is seeing how the established veterans of the rap game take the stage to capture new generations of fans.
Whether it’s performing decades-old classics or new music that they’ve just released to continue their run, rap’s legends have done a spectacular job at capturing the essence of what makes hip-hop the coolest genre in the world — and will continue to be, forever.
BET has taken a look back at the 10 best performances from rap’s veterans at the BET Hip Hop Awards since it kicked off way back in 2006.
Check out our favorites below.
Ludacris, Jeremaine Dupri, Young Jeezy, and Lil Jon hit the stage for a performance of the “Welcome to Atlanta (Remix)” at the 2006 BET Hip Hop Awards. It was the first ever edition of the show, and these established hip-hop vets rocked the stage to the point that no one could follow them and top the energy exhibition that they put out.
A pioneering woman with a deadly pen, MC Lyte ripped the stage with her energetic performance of “Cha Cha Cha” at the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards. Wearing a shirt with a newly-elected President Barack Obama, she was fierce, powerful, and overwhelmingly talented.
The 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards were all about showing hip-hop’s hardest women the due praise that they deserved for carrying the culture on their backs. Lady Rage hit the stage for a rambunctious performance of “Afro Puffs” with her puffs out in full swing as well as a signature black afro pick in her hair. The crowd was in the air with excitement.
Snoop Dogg has constantly been a presence at the BET Hip Hop Awards since he’s one of the biggest rappers still around from the 1990s, and at the 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards, he showcased just why people love him so much with a performance of “Gangsta Luv” and “Gin & Juice.” A king in the flesh, he brought the audience back to the “old days.”
Bone Thugs N Harmony are arguably responsible for rap’s fascination with melodic flows — something that really kicked into a revival in the early 2010s. So seeing them live at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards was like seeing the Orville Brothers after they created the airplane. Their nostalgic medley of songs showcased rap’s blueprint since their dominating run.
The women of rap hit the stage again to shut it down at the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards when they performed with Brandy for the “I Wanna Be Down” remix. The 1990s were alive again as the women commanded the crowd to groove with them to the smooth beat.
Gucci Mane was fresh out of prison after serving nearly three years when he performed at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards. The once hot-headed hip-hop legend had previously startled fans with his wild energy but he was calmer this go around, still able to excite the audience but in a new fashion. Performing two classic out-of-jail tracks, Gucci Mane started his chance at freedom on an extremely high note.
When you get both Yo Gotti and T.I. on the stage in any venue, there’s bound to be some excitement that nearly breaks the walls of the venue. The two hit the stage at the 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards to perform “Wraith” from T.I.’s Dime Trap album. These vets had the energy of artists half their age as they dismantled the very establishment that they stood on.
Rick Ross and T-Pain were responsible for some smash hits in the late 2000s by themselves and even had an epic hit together, “Boss Life,” that inspired leaders everywhere. The two reconnected on stage at the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards with a performance of some of Ross’s biggest hits such as “Maybach Music” and the two’s leader-loving collaboration.
(Photo by Brad Barket/BET/Getty Images for BET)