The 2020 BET Awards kicked off with an explosive performance of Public Enemy’s protest anthem Fight The Power featuring Chuck D, Professor Griff, Flavor Flav, Nas and members of The Roots.
Each act performed virtually amid images from the recent Black Lives Matter protests across America.
Other highlights from the BET Awards on Sunday included Jennifer Hudson’s showstopping rendition of Aretha Franklin’s Young, Gifted & Black, which was followed by the premiere of her new Aretha biopic, RESPECT, in which the Oscar winner portrays the late Queen of Soul – handpicked by Franklin before her death in 2018.
There were also creative virtual performances from Megan Thee Stallion, John Legend and Alicia Keys also hit the high notes, while the night’s Best Male Hip-Hop Artist DaBaby and Best New Artist and Album of the Year winner Roddy Ricch debuted a new version of their hit Rockstar, honouring the victims of police brutality.
The performance began with DaBaby pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee on his neck – a reference to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the end of May.
The new video ended with a card that read: “In loving memory to all the lives lost to racism and police brutality”.
Meanwhile, the night’s top honour, the 2020 BET Humanitarian Award, went to Beyonce for her philanthropic contributions, and the singer’s daughter, eight-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, picked up her first-ever honour for her work on her mum’s Brown Skin Girl from The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack.
And there were tributes to the late Little Richard and rapper Lil Wayne saluted the memory of Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his teenage daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in January.
Bryant closed out the awards ceremony’s In Memoriam segment, which launched into Wayne’s performance of his 2009 song Kobe Bryant as footage from the basketball icon’s career flashed on the screen.
Lil Wayne previously honoured the sportsman on his album Funeral earlier this year – one track, Bing James, included 24 seconds of silence – a nod to Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers number 24.
The evening featured several mentions of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by Floyd’s death, and host Amanda Seales opened up about the importance of the prizegiving, making references to Breonna Taylor, who was killed when police officers raided her apartment on a no-knock search warrant
The full list of winners is:
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist – Lizzo
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist – Chris Brown
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist – Megan Thee Stallion
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist – DaBaby
Best New Artist – Roddy Ricch
Best Group – Migos
Best Collaboration – No Guidance by Chris Brown feat. Drake
Video of the Year – Higher by DJ Khaled feat. Nipsey Hussle & John Legend
Video Director of the year – Teyana ‘Spike Lee’ Taylor
Album of the Year – Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial by Roddy Ricch
Best Gospel/Inspirational Award – Just For Me by Kirk Franklin
BET Her Award – Brown Skin Girl by Beyonce feat. Blue Ivy Carter, Wizkid & Saint Jhn
Viewers’ Choice Award – Hot Girl Summer by Megan Thee Stallion & Nicki Minaj
Best International Act – Burna Boy (Nigeria)
Best New International Act – Sha Sha (Zimbabwe)
Best Movie – Queen & Slim
Youngstars Award – Marsai Martin
Best Actor – Michael B. Jordan
Best Actress – Issa Rae
Humanitarian Award – Beyonce
Sportswoman of the Year – Simone Biles
Sportsman of the Year – LeBron James