Over the last two decades, the BET Awards has established itself as the premier ceremony for celebrating Black excellence while also uplifting the best in our community. Whether it’s in music, sports, entertainment or otherwise, the BET Awards has been at the forefront of giving flowers to current artists while also paying homage to the ones who have helped to pave the way.
After nearly 20 years, there has been an abundance of iconic performers who have literally created history as they graced the BET stage. Remember that time when the legendary James Brown and Michael Jackson joined forces back in 2003 or when D’Angelo performed a medley of his hits in 2020 after taking a 14-year break from music? And there’s so many more examples in between these two it would be impossible to list them all.
And yet, that didn’t stop us. Here’s a sample of just a few of the most standout group performances to come out of the BET Awards since the show’s inception in 2001.
This performance was fresh off the meteoric rise of 50 Cent’s career as he signed with Eminem’s Shady Records and released his instant classic: ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (‘03). The crew from Queens, NY made their presence known in the Kodak Theater in L.A. where they performed some of their most iconic hits to date: “Stunt 101,” “Let Me In” and “On Fire.” Before cementing their legacy as one of the greatest hip-hop groups of the ’00s, it was at the BET Awards in 2004 where they took center stage to reaffirm their full-on takeover power.
Although Queen Bey was on the brink of starting her solo career, Destiny’s Child came together for their fifth and final project to date: Destiny Fulfilled (‘05). In honor of their last performance as a group, they decided to serenade the award show with a sensual, super sultry performance of their chart-topping hit: “Cater 2 U.” Accompanied by an entourage of three lucky bachelors: Terrance Howard, Nelly and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, the iconic group delivered an unforgettable performance that still gives us all the feels.
After not performing as a single unit in well over 10 years, Puff Daddy, Mase and a good portion of popular alumni from Bad Boy Records all assembled on one stage to honor their undeniable run and legacy in the culture. In what felt like a major blast from the past, the crew that changed the fabric and elevated the standard of hip-hop forever covered all their classic hits from the mid-90s to the early 00s, including timeless tracks that still bang today like “Feels So Good” (Mase), “Peaches and Cream” (112), “All About The Benjamins” (Diddy, The L.O.X., Lil’Kim and The Notorious B.I.G.) and much more. Based on the elaborate nature of the performance, this long-awaited reunion can easily go down as one of the most iconic moments to take place in BET awards show history.
In alignment with the creation of their biographical three-part miniseries: The New Edition Story, the legendary group New Edition reunited to salute their 30+ years in the business of crafting R&B music that has endured the test of time. Teaming up with the roster of actors that play them in the miniseries, including Algee Smith, Keith Powers, Woody McClain, Bryshere Gray, Luke James, and Elijah Kelley, New Edition performed a medley of songs that define their musical footprint and span the many eras of their reign: “Mr. Telephone Man,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Candy Girl” and more. On top of delivering a stellar performance, they were recipients of the BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Beyond all takeaways, this is what you call a full-circle moment at its finest.
Coming off of the drop of their first record and what now many consider to be an instant classic: Culture (‘17), the ad-libbing, high-energy ATL trap trio took to the BET Awards stage to perform two of their biggest singles to date: “T-Shirt” and “Bad and Boujee.”
It was almost impossible to go anywhere that summer without hearing “Bad and Boujee'' playing confirming why the group won “Best New Group” at the Awards. It was an early foreshadowing of how huge the Migos would become. This is what makes this moment so special.
To complement their new splash on the hip-hop scene with their Summer smash hit: ‘Act Up,’ the Miami-bred duo of JT and Young Miami, better known as, City Girls left mouths open with their 2019 BET Awards performance. Even though their performance wasn’t very long, it hinted at a major moment for the team because it enhanced their visibility, which was pivotal towards ushering in a new sub-brand of hip-hop: hip-hop feminism, which include artists like Rubi Rose, Yung Baby Tate and Princess Nokia.
Shortly after the release of their second full-length album and what is arguably their best project to date: Ungodly Hour, the dynamic, “Beyonce endorsed” sister duo came, saw and conquered with grace and poise like only they know how to do. Chloe and Hailey Bailey, more commonly known as, Chloe x Halle delivered a sleek, virtual performance from an undisclosed location. Performing two tracks of their then brand-new record: “Forgive Me,” as well as, their viral mega-hit “Do It,” they did what needed to be done with their signature mixture of angelic harmonies and in-sync choreography. Already ripe with undeniable talent, they reinforced on the BET Awards platform that they’re in for the long run.
Watch the 20th BET Awards on Sunday, June 27 at 8/9.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )