The 2020 BET Awards — hosted by Insecure star Amanada Seales —opened up with a bang on Sunday night (June 28). To open the show, Public Enemy returned to national television for an updated rendition of “Fight The Power” featuring Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, YG, Questlove and Enemy Radio’s Jahi.
Although it was a virtual show, the 2020 BET Awards set the standard for future virtual award shows as the coronavirus pandemic continues. It also showed what the BET Awards could look like with a massive budget considering CBS aired the program during primetime for the first time in its 20-year history.
See some of the performances below.
Roddy Ricch – “High Fashion” x “The Box”
Roddy Ricch made good on his two appearances of the night. Having performed virtually at the 2020 Roots Picnic on Saturday (June 27), the Compton rapper moved from playing the piano for a melodic rendition of “High Fashion” before switching to multiple sets for his performance of his chart-topping single “The Box” from Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial.
John Legend – “Never Break”
Give John Legend a piano and let him create magic. The EGOT winner who released his Bigger Love album on June 19 ventured to an empty warehouse to perform the album’s closer, “Never Break” with a gospel choir.
D Smoke & SiR – “Let Go” x “Black Habits”
The Farris family is a little too talented for their own good. D Smoke made his BET Awards debut with two records from his lauded debut album Black Habits but not only did he make wise use of his space, he got his brother SiR and his mother Jackie Gouche involved as well.
Megan Thee Stallion – “Girls In The Hood” x “Savage”
Easily the best performance of the night, Megan Thee Stallion firmly planted herself as one of Hip Hop’s biggest names with a Mad Max / Janet Jackson homage for her new single “Girls In The Hood” and a socially distance twerk-session for “Savage.”
DaBaby feat. Roddy Ricch – “Rockstar”
The most polarizing performance of the night went to DaBaby who reimagined the death of George Floyd for the song’s opening verse before transitioning to standing on top of a car, performing with flames beneath him. The closer however attempted to bring the various scenes of political unrest together as a little girl stands holding up a sign while audio from Zianna Oliphant played over it. Oliphant spoke in front of the Charlotte city council in 2016 in regards to the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott and said, “We shouldn’t have to feel like this.”
Anderson .Paak feat. Jay Rock – “Lockdown”
As far as live performers and visuals, .Paak’s up there with the best of them and for his groovy protest single, he and Jay Rock not only throw a Molotov cocktail to further make the world aware that things are changing. Jay Rock, as is par for the course with him, wastes zero movements or words in detailing his thoughts on the matter.
Lil Wayne – “Kobe Bryant”
Wayne’s tribute to the late Kobe Bryant brought back memories of when the New Orleans rapper declared he was more “Kobe Bryant of an artist.” Revisiting his 2009 track “Kobe Bryant,” Wayne performed in front of a bright neon sign of the number 24, honoring his favorite player as well as Bryant’s daughter Gianna with a new verse.
Chloe x Halle – “Forgive Me” x “Do It”
A quarantine performance from Chloe x Halle is nothing new. They’re practically the queens of it as they’ve used the tennis court in their backyard to help promote their Ungodly Hour album. The dark and light themes of the album played big time with their performance of “Forgive Me” and “Do It,” complete with an homage to Destiny’s Child’s “Lose My Breath” video at the end.
Summer Walker feat. Usher – “Session 32” x “Come Thru”
Given her history with anxiety, the virtual performance platform was made for Summer Walker. For the final Hip Hop performance of the night, the Atlanta native took it back to her days covering songs on YouTub with “Session 32” before invoking a dreamy lounge-type sequence with Usher for “Come Thru.”