Music videos are an essential part of hip hop. Whether the visuals pan out as you saw it while listening to the song or it ends up making absolutely no sense at all, the genre wouldn’t be the same without it.
NWA’s "Straight Outta Compton'' set the bar for rap videos throughout the '90s and helped usher hip hop into the mainstream thanks to airplay on Yo! MTV Raps's inaugural year. Missy Elliot made her music video\s an event and could argue that Nelly’s “Tip Drill” wouldn’t have as much of an impact if not for its BET Uncut video.
The influence music videos have is why they’re a category at the BET Hip Hop Awards and one of the most prestigious honors of the night.
With the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards around the corner, here’s a look at the past winners.
Kendrick’s work is always deep and meaningful and his presentation of “Humble” was no different. It’s no wonder it took home “Video of The Year” at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.
You can start piecing together the symbolism from the opening shot, which features Kendrick standing alone in a big church in a robe with light shining directly on him. The entire Dave Myers directed video continues with these religious imageries, as he reenacts Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th-century painting, “The Last Supper”.
It gives “Humble” a new perspective.
Future and Drake have a chemistry that shows both on and off-screen. In 2020, their magic landed the duo a “Video of the Year” trophy at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
Shot by the legendary Director X, “Life is Good” shows the pair holding a variety of occupations — from garbage collectors, fast food slingers and fancy chefs, to mechanics and tech advisors — enjoying themselves more than they should as they groove and crack jokes on the gig.
Lil Yachty even makes a cameo as the clueless tech.
Featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, this Colin Tilley-directed music video features Chris Brown in the Brooklyn cap and glasses that Spike Lee's character, Mars Blackmon, wore in the ‘90s Air Jordan ads.
"I kind of did the Mars Blackmon outfit with the Brooklyn [hat] and the whole [outfit], I always was a fan of that and that was always fresh to me when I saw Spike Lee with Jordan," Brown explained to MTV News. “So I was like, man, I'mma do that outfit just to pay tribute to him."
Well, it worked, earning the singer a “Video of The Year” award at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards.
T.I. and Rihanna originally introduced “Live Your Life” at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. From there, however, the song would catapult as one of the year’s best songs.
Directed by Anthony Mandler, the music video plays like an epic crime action film and showcases the Atlanta rapper fleeing goons and having to pay a mob boss. Rihanna plays the best partner-in-crime you’ll ever find, of course.
There was no question when the video was nominated in 2009, it would win.
When “Panda” hit No. 1 spot on the Hot 100, it became the first rap song to claim the crown since Jay Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” in 2009.
While there aren’t any real pandas in the video — just on masks and painted posteriors — Kanye West makes an appearance, driving a dabbing Desiigner around.
The West and Paul Geusebroek-directed video was rambunctious enough to take home the prize of “Best Video” at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, which, given Desiigner’s antics, deserved.
(Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage