BET (DStv channel 129)
BET (DStv channel 129)

Stars dazzle at the 2021 BET Awards

Taraji P. Henson was the host with the most and Megan Thee Stallion galloped off with the show at the 2021 BET Awards.

The BET Awards are back, live and in person! Following 2020’s virtual awards ceremony, a fully vaccinated audience was invited to attend the 21st ever ceremony itself. Stars walked the red carpet in full daylight on a brilliant Los Angeles day – and a lot of people who hadn’t seen daylight for a year were sweating!

2021 was the Year of the Black Woman at the BET Awards, with Empire’s magnificent Taraji P. Henson hosting. Queen Latifah’s skills as a true entertainer were acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award. And as well as honouring entertainers, the ceremony shone a light on the recent contributions that black women have made toward the cause of social justice. Taraji gave a shout out to the political movers and shakers like US representative Maxine Waters, US Vice President Kamala Harris, and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. The show also took a moment to honour the courage of the then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier, whose video of George Floyd’s murder was instrumental in driving calls for the arrest and conviction of his killer, police officer Derek Chauvin.

It was a night of messages, but above all, it was a celebration of music, with live performances that had fans leaping about in excitement. A night, in Taraji’s words of “melanin and melodies”. There was no shortage of tears and tugs at the heartstrings, either, as a few of the artists brought them moms and dads on stage when they accepted their awards, or paid tribute to them. All in all, there was a lot to see.

NB! While the awards ceremony runs over 3-and-a-half hours, not all the awards were given during this time.

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7 must-see moments

1. Taraji P. Henson being the hot sauce every awards ceremony needs.

2. Megan Thee Stallion stomping the competition as she collected 3 major awards. She was completely out of breath for 1 of them because she’d come hot off an energetic song and dance performance.

3. Cardi B stealing the spotlight from Migos looking like “Barbie with a baby bump”. Taraji commented that she was, "giving us life, literally". This year cardi became the first female rapper in BET Awards history to win Video of The Year as a lead artist.

4. Lil Nas X walking like an Egyptian (and hello, somebody’s made excellent use of his quarantine workout time), paying tribute to Michael Jackson, and kissing 1 of his dancers on top of a pyramid, just being the moment. (PS: Keep an eye out for Lil Nas X on the Red Carpet proving that Billy Porter isn’t the only man who can bring you awards ceremony magnificence).

5. The “reclaiming my time” lady herself, Maxine Waters, introduced Jazmine Sullivan singing On It live with Ari Lennox. Yes, together for real.

6. Queen Latifah getting the tribute that her excellence deserves with friends like Rapsody, Monie Love, Lil Kim and MC Lyte on stage singing Unity to her. “I'm so extremely moved, I don't even know what to say. My siblings, my best friends – who ride or die with me. Whether my face is on the dirt or flying in the sky, they know me and they are there for me,” said The Queen. “When we couldn't get played on the radio and other places, we couldn't get our videos played in other places, there was BET that allowed us to be in our fullness, and to shine to this night right now, right here… We can't live without each other. I wanted to celebrate us because I know, together, we stand stronger, than when we tear each other apart. I've seen enough of that. So respect to all the females on the stage tonight.” Queen Latifah signed off with "Peace and happy Pride.”

7. And you’ll have to wait right ’til the end of the ceremony, but Michael K. Williams embodying the love, poetry, rage and artistry of the late DMX in the most moving performance of the night. Just really jaw dropping

Other moments to watch for include rapper Saweetie picking her way across stage like a shaky baby deep then explaining, "My bad, this dress hella heavy."

Lil Baby dressed in the evening's most convincing "I wasn't expecting this award" outfit.

Silk Sonic teasing that they were going to perform a brand-new song off their album, only to pull the rug out from under us and go right back to singing Leave The Door Open yet again, with a huge wink.

Andra Day giving a meltingly beautiful performance of Strange Fruit. Burna Boy becoming the first African Artist to get three straight BET nominations and wins.

And Tyler The Creator giving an epic performance of Lumberjack, with a simulated hurricane on stage – the absolute opposite of some of the guys’ (naming no names) flex, sing and let the dancers do the work approach.

Ladies and gents, your host…

A special shout out goes to Taraji for showing us what the Oscars have been missing in a host: Cheek, flair and humour. Taraji gave us a catwalk of tributes to great female entertainers, from Tina Turner to Erykah Badu, along with comedy moments to keep us laughing.

Her entrance: Taraji was lowered from the ceiling at the start of the awards looking like a goldstatuette we’d all want to win. “That's how a bad bitch enters the room!" she exclaimed. "I am so excited to be here… with humans.”

Her promise: Taraji promised viewers, “Tonight you’re going to get 100% of our full Blackness, because this is where we matter, where our Black entertainment matters. It’s 2021, and we’re celebrating the year of the Black woman… Celebrating Black women isn’t a fad or trend. It’s a forever mood, OK? And there is more than enough room for all of us to thrive.” Taraji then handed out some beautiful flowers to women in the audience.

The stunts: After performer H.E.R came down out the ceiling dressed in white with a full drum set to give us angelic beats, then rocked out on electric guitar, Taraji copycatted as “S.H.E” (it stands for Solid Hair Edges), a wanna-be multi-instrumentalist whose ambitions, sadly, outstripped her skill on the harmonica.

Erykah Badu, who? Dressed in an iconic giant hat and otherwise looking like she’d raided Erykah’s dress-up box, Taraji had her audience shrieking as she flirted outrageously with Method Man… before a good portion of the audience got distracted by how incredibly fine Method Man was looking. The thirst of Twitter would make your mom blush.

Twerk class teacher: Taraji dressed in a sexy little Betty Boop style get-up, rolled down a map, snapped out a pointer, and gave a hilarious lecture on the origins and history of twerking that’s 100% worth sitting through that entire ceremony for.

And the winners are…

Album of the Year

Heaux Tales ‒ Jazmine Sullivan
Ungodly Hour ‒ Chloe x Halle
King's Disease ‒ Nas
Good News ‒ Megan Thee Stallion
Blame it on Baby ‒ DaBaby
After Hours ‒ The Weeknd

Best Female R&B / Pop Artist

Jazmine Sullivan
Jhené Aiko
Summer Walker

Best Male R&B / Pop Artist

Chris Brown
Anderson .Paak
The Weeknd

Best Group

Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic
21 Savage & Metro Boomin
Chloe X Halle
Chris Brown & Young Thug
City Girls

Best Collaboration

WAP ‒ Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion 
Rockstar ‒ DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
Popstar ‒ DJ Khaled ft. Drake
What's Poppin (Remix) ‒ Jack Harlow ft. DaBaby, Tory Lanez and Lil Wayne
Cry Baby ‒ Megan Thee Stallion ft. DaBaby
For the Night ‒ Pop Smoke ft. Lil Baby and DaBaby

Best Male Hip Hop Artist

Lil Baby
Jack Harlow
Pop Smoke

Best Female Hip Hop Artist

Megan Thee Stallion
Cardi B
Coi Leray
Doja Cat

Video of the Year

WAP ‒ Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion
Up ‒ Cardi B
Do It ‒ Chloe x Halle
Go Crazy ‒ Chris Brown and Young Thug
Laugh Now Cry Later ‒ Drake ft. Lil Durk
Leave the Door Open ‒ Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic

Best New Artist

Coi Leray
Flo Milli
Jack Harlow
Pooh Shiesty

Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel / Inspirational Award

Strong God ‒ Kirk Franklin
In Jesus Name ‒ Bebe Winans
Never Lost ‒ Cece Winans
Hold Us Together ‒ H.E.R.
Thank You For It All ‒ Marvin Sapp
Touch From You ‒ Tamela Mann

BET Her Award

Good Days ‒ Sza 
So Done ‒ Alicia Keys ft. Khalid
Baby Mama ‒ Brandy ft. Chance the Rapper
Anti Queen ‒ Bri Steves
Baby Girl ‒ Chloe x Halle
Rooted ‒ Ciara ft. Ester Dean

Best International Act

Burna Boy ‒ Nigeria
Aya Nakamura ‒ France
Diamond Platnumz ‒ Tanzania
Emicida ‒ Brazil
Headie One ‒ United Kingdom
Wizkid ‒ Nigeria
Young T & Bugsey ‒ United Kingdom
Youssopha ‒ France

Viewer's Choice: Best New International Act

Bree Runway ‒ United Kingdom 
Arlo Parks ‒ United Kingdom
Bramsito ‒ France
Elaine ‒ South Africa
MC Dricka ‒ Brazil
Ronisia ‒ France
Tems ‒ Nigeria

Viewer's Choice Award

Savage (Remix) – Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé 
WAP – Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion
Go Crazy – Chris Brown & Young Thug
Rockstar – DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
Popstar – DJ Khaled ft. Drake
Laugh Now Cry Later – Drake ft. Lil Durk
The Bigger Picture – Lil Baby
Leave the Door Open – Silk Sonic

Video Of The Year

Cardi B Ft. Megan Thee Stallion – WAP 
Cardi B – Up
Chloe X Halle – Do It
Chris Brown & Young Thug – Go Crazy
Drake Ft. Lil Durk – Laugh Now Cry Later
Silk Sonic – Leave The Door Open

Video Director Of The Year

Bruno Mars And Florent Déchard 
Benny Boom
Cole Bennett
Colin Tilley
Dave Meyers
Hype Williams

Best Movie

Judas And The Black Messiah 
Coming 2 America
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night In Miami
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday

Best Actress

Andra Day: Billie Holiday (The United States Vs. Billie Holiday)
Angela Bassett
Issa Rae
Jurnee Smollett
Viola Davis

Best Actor

Chadwick Boseman 
Aldis Hodge
Damson Idris
Daniel Kaluuya
Eddie Murphy
LaKeith Stanfield

Youngstars Award

Marsai Martin 
Alex R. Hibbert
Ethan Hutchison
Lonnie Chavis
Michael Epps
Storm Reid

Sportswoman Of The Year Award

Naomi Osaka 
A’ja Wilson
Candace Parker
Claressa Shields
Serena Williams
Skylar Diggins-Smith

Sportsman Of The Year Award

LeBron James 
Kyrie Irving
Patrick Mahomes
Russell Westbrook
Russell Wilson
Stephen Curry

At the end of the ceremony, we had just one question: What was on that note that Jazmine Sullivan’s mommy kept trying to push into her hand?

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