The 2021 BET Awards aired on June 27 and was led by host, actress Taraji P. Henson. The night was filled with strong performances and memorable awards recipients including Darnella Frazier who recorded the murder of George Floyd. Frazier was awarded with the BET Shine a Life Award which was accepted by presenter Lauren London.
London recited a brief speech upon her acceptance, “Tonight, we’d like to shine a light on the brave and transformative heroics of Darnella Frazier. This young woman who captured a moment in history that reflects our brutal past, helping to forge a way forward with her cellphone in hand, she recorded nine minutes and 29 seconds of social injustice highlighting the murder of George Floyd.” She continued: “Sometimes in life it just takes one person to prove that we play a large part in getting the accountability we deserve. She didn’t set out to change the world, she set out to do what was right.”
DMX was honored after the rapper died of heart complications at 50 years old. The Washington Post reported, “The show closed with a powerful tribute to DMX, the legendary rapper who died in April at age 50. Method Man kicked it off with ‘Get at Me Dog,’ followed by Griselda, Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes and the Lox for a medley of hits, including ‘Party Up (Up in Here),’ ‘Where the Hood At?’ and ‘Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.’ Actor Michael K. Williams joined for ‘Slippin’’ and was so spot on that he immediately became the top fan contender to play DMX in a future biopic. The performance ended with ‘The Prayer IV,’ with everyone’s arms up in the air to honor the rapper.”
Megan Thee Stallion won three awards throughout the night. She won Video of the Year for WAP featuring Cardi B, the Viewers’ Choice Award for the Savage remix with Beyoncé and Video and Best Female Hip Hop Artist. The artist’s collaborator Cardi B revealed that she was pregnant with her second child while performing with Migos. Her baby bump showed through her bodysuit while she performed a verse with the hip hop crew. She is married to Offset, one of the members of the successful hip hop group.
The dynamic artist H.E.R received the award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist. Known for her genre-bending music, which includes country and rock, she spoke about her work during her acceptance, “I had the pleasure of being on the stage of a different genre, and they asked me: ‘What are you bringing to this stage? It’s a completely different world, you know—you come from R&B.’ And I said, ‘Well actually, R&B and soul music is a foundation of country music.’ There wouldn’t be a lot of those other genres if it was not for Black music. When they say ‘R&B is dead, R&B is not alive,’ I’m like, ‘It’s in everything.’”
Rep. Maxine Waters joined artist Jazmine Sullivan on stage for her song “Tragic” which featured the words of the representative. “Reclaiming my time: When it’s my time, you can’t talk in, you can’t walk in, and you may never get in.”
Queen Latifah was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her incredible career in Black entertainment. MC Lyte, Lil’ Kim, Rapsody and Monie Love honored her by performing “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.”
The BET Awards continues to be a star-studded affair highlighting the strides that Black artists are making in the world. The night ran smoothly as the award show was the first to find a formula to air during the pandemic. This year, the show ran as it usually would and offered a wonderful night of music and acclaim.