10 Best Hip-Hop Moments at 2016 BET Awards
Award shows may be a dime a dozen these days, but there are a few that hold a special place in hip-hop fans' hearts, one of them being the BET Awards. The most recent edition, which took place last night (June 26) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, was hosted by actor Anthony Anderson and actress Tracee Ross Ellis, co-stars of the hit ABC sitcom Black-ish. The night's festivities were dedicated to Prince and included a number of tributes to the Purple One, but there was also an abundance of air-time granted to rap artists and nods thrown towards the hip-hop community, which isn't a surprise if you're familiar with the BET Awards long-running relationship with the culture.
Established in 2001, the star-studded show has celebrated the best entertainers from rap to R&B to gospel and everything in between, but rap fans have always been a big part of its demographic, faithfully tuning in to see who the big winners and performers are. With heavyweights like Jay Z, Kanye West, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj having racked up a sizable amount of award hardware throughout the year, as well as gracing the stage, the BET Awards has cultivated a tradition by serving as the go-to celebration of the talent that usually gets shunned and snubbed at more mainstream awards ceremonies.
The 2016 BET Awards is another moment of reverence for the entertainers that thread the fabric that is our culture. Of course the show was filled with its fair share of hijinks and wisecracks. XXL highlights the 10 best hip-hop moments from the ceremony that caught our attention.
The BET Awards 2016 festivities kicked off in an electrifying way when Beyonce's rumored opening performance came to fruition, much to the delight of those at home viewing. After her dancers strutted down the aisles, Beyonce appeared center stage to perform "Freedom," a standout from her latest album, Lemonade. But the true highlight of the diva's set came courtesy of Kendrick Lamar, whom the singer brought out to rock alongside her. As two of the biggest artists in all of music and both being responsible for the recent surge of politically-charged commentary in mainstream music, seeing Bey and K. Dot share the limelight and combine their talents was one of the greater moments of the evening.
Fetty Wap was the new kid on the block making waves in rap last year, but in 2016, it's Brooklyn rep Desiigner. Now it's his time to take over the mantle when it comes to the most buzzworthy upstart in the game. Making his rounds as his chart-topping debut single, "Panda," continues to make the rounds, Desiigner hit the BET stage for what was one of his first nationally televised performances. Turning in a riveting set and showing off his signature dance moves and plenty of dabbin', Desiigner got the crowd on his side before having his mic cut off at the end, robbing us of the chance of possibly hearing a memorable soundbite.
2016 has been a heck of a year for Fat Joe and Remy Ma. After both having faced their own bit of turmoil over the past decade -- most notably Remy Ma's incarceration -- the two Bronx bombers have enjoyed a resurgence with their collaborative single, "All the Way Up," which also features French Montana and has been a contender for street banger of the year for months on end. The Terror Squad reps brought the BX to Hollywood during their performance, which saw the two looking especially reinvigorated and with all their steps in tact. Jay Z coming out to do his verse off the remix would have been an extravaganza, but Joe and Remy's presence onstage was a present, nonetheless.
Bryson Tiller's live performance during the BET Awards 2016 may have been followed by a trail of slander, but it did serve as the catalyst for what was arguably the most endearing moment of the night. Actress Marsai Martin, who plays Diane Johnson on the hit sitcom Black-ish, was caught on candid camera getting loose to Tiller's hit single, "Don't," in all her splendor. Getting especially animated as the crooner sang his "pull up, SKRT" portion of the song, Marsai's reaction was nothing short of priceless and should become a viral mainstay sooner than later.
Anderson .Paak, one of this year's XXL Freshman Class members, was also in attendance at the BET Awards and made sure to make an impression on those unfamiliar with the rising talent. Taking the stage to perform his song "Come Down" from his critically acclaimed album, Malibu, .Paak was not slow to reveal his bag of tricks to the crowd. He hopped on the drums and served as part of his own band, the Free Nationals, while simultaneously giving an exuberant set. Anderson .Paak may have been unfamiliar to some prior to this year's BET Awards 2016, but there's no doubt that he gained more than a few fans with his rollicking showmanship and charisma.
Future picked up some hardware for himself and Drake last night when they were awarded the Best New Group award (Rae Sremmurd got robbed, by the way), but the best moment that included the ATL trapper was his performance of "Wicked," a track from his mixtape, Purple Reign. Some may have anticipated a possible showdown between Future and his newfound foil, Desiigner, but the Freebandz leader instead decided to let his stage presence and star power do the talking. The rhymer and trusty DJ Esco got busy and showed that he's truly the Real McCoy when it comes to warbly, mumble-mouthed hit-making.
2016 has been as exciting and unpredictable as any singular person in hip-hop has. Gifting the BET Awards with his presence, DJ Khaled had one of the more better award presentations of the night. While presenting the Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award, Khaled charmed the crowd while dropping his unique brand of wisdom and goodwill, instantly winning over the crowd and everyone at home. But his biggest contribution to the night was the announcement that his new video, the Jay Z and Future-assisted "I Got the Keys," would be premiering on BET right after the show, further adding to the infectious energy in the air last night.
The undisputed highlight of the BET Awards was none other than rapper Fabolous' seemingly nonplussed reaction to fellow Brooklynite Desiigner during his charged up performance of "Panda." After beginning his set on stage, Desiigner turned into a ball of energy, bouncing all over the place, until he ended up in the aisle, right next to Fabolous, who many thought to be perplexed in a negative way by Desiigner. However, Fab explained himself on Twitter, setting the record straight. He was forthcoming with the fact that he was honestly taken aback by the young rapper's presence. The BK don may have done away with any negativity, but the picture remains and is worth a million laughs, which it will probably get by the time it runs its course.
The hosts for the BET Awards, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, did not fail in their quest to keep the crowd and those tuning in from home on the edge of their seats with their hilarious commentary. One of their more memorable bits was their first, during which they threw a nod to award-winning musical Hamilton by reenacting the play and using the hottest rap songs of the moment as inspiration. From Desiigner's "Panda" and O.T. Genasis' "Cut It" to The Weeknd's "Cant Feel My Face" and Yo Gotti's "Down n the DM," various fan favorites get the Shakespearean treatment, which made for an amusing opening moment at the show. Giggles from anyone with a sense of humor and a love for hip-hop followed.