Since the first show in 2001, the BET Awards has been a central stage for hip hop to shine authentically on a fun, supportive and unapologetically Black platform. Over the course of those 20 years, hip hop has grown and evolved more times than we can count and the BET Awards has showcased those moments in its electrifying stage shows. Here are our favorite hip hop performances in BET Awards history.
Before there was gangsta rap, alternative hip-hop and trap, there was the dynamic duo of Slick Rick & the original human beatbox Doug E. Fresh. Back at the BET Awards in 2004, these two pioneers came together with the legendary DJ Premier on the ones and twos. After not being seen together on a major stage in years, they covered some of their classic hits like “Children’s Story” and “La Di Da Di.” It was an iconic performance that sparked nostalgia for some as they schooled others on hip hop’s roots. This was one for the books, for sure.
Known for his eccentric sense of humor and larger than life persona, Busta Rhymes came up on a hip hop gem when he dropped “Touch It,” which is still one of his biggest tracks. Instead of riding out the glory on the song’s success, he created a remix, enlisting an all-star lineup that blew up even more than the original track. During the BET Awards in ‘06, Busta came through with everyone on the remix for an unexpected mega performance. Teaming up with Mary J. Blidge, Rah Digga, Missy Elliott, Lloyd Banks, Papoose, DMX and a surprise verse from Eminem, they put it down together for a show-stopping moment in BET Awards history. #stillmemorable
Before becoming the certified King of The South and known as the godfather of Trap Music, T.I. hit the BET Awards stage to perform right before he blew up. Centered around his box-office hit at the time: “Big Things Poppin,” he gave an electrifying performance that hinted at how high his career would eventually take off. The King took hold of his crown with this performance.
There was a time when this unofficial unit, also once known as, T-Wayne, were a major force in hip hop. As solo entities they were poppin’ but when they came together on tracks, it felt like synergy that couldn’t miss and they cranked out hit after hit seemingly with ease. While at their peak, the duo hit the BET Awards stage to perform a medley of some of their most in-demand joint hits, as well as their stand alone bops. The tracks performed included “Got Money,” “Lollipop,” and “A Milli,” all certified classics today. That performance captured the essence of an exciting time in hip hop that many of us will never forget.
In 2015, K.Dot pulled out all the stops when he performed his hit empowering anthem, “Alright.” Lamar took multiple steps away from his calm, laid back demeanor to channel the high-octane, hyper energetic nature of this track. It was turned all the way up, to say the very least. Little did most know at the time that this energy would become another dimension of Kung Fu Kenny down the line in his career.
(Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage)