Just like last year, the BET Awards came in hot with brand sponsorships, segments, and collaborations. Culture’s biggest night, which took place in Los Angeles’s Microsoft Theater and rooted itself in the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, did not fall short when it came to brand involvement.
It seemed at each commercial break we were introduced to a new initiative that was brand sponsored to benefit the black community. For example, the P&G Queen collective gave access and opportunities to female and nonbinary filmmakers trying to make it in the industry. Walmart teamed up with Best New Artist winner Coco Jones to support funds for black women’s health. Walmart also created a Black Brand Unlimited segment, teaming black brands with black creators to create works of art that will be posted to social media. McDonalds had their “Change Leaders” segment again, which showcased young professionals trying to make a change in their communities. They tackled issues such as financial literacy, gender equality, and mental health. While Nissan sponsored the show’s Amplify performer, giving mentorships to emerging artists and launching a competition to find a new rising rapper. All of these moments included verbal mentions on stage, accompanied by a logo, as well as pre-filmed segments at the top and bottom of each commercial break.
It seemed like deep rooted integrations with a purpose was this year’s theme. However some brands went for a more straightforward approach. Smirnoff, Amex, Sprite, and Google Pixel all sponsored their own award categories. This came with a verbal mention on stage, a visual logo, and a commercial following the award’s presentation. Google Pixel even had a visual moment on stage to present the winner of Best Female Hip-Hop performance. The presenter announced the winner on stage with the brand’s latest phone model. Sprite was also innovative when it came to a long form commercial starring Latto and other hip-hop legends going through the timeline of the hip-hop revolution. The spot celebrated hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, and then lead into hip hop award nominees describing the moment they fell in love with the genre.
Of course, when Culture’s Biggest Night is honoring hip-hop, you know things are going to get lit. Whether it was good or bad, BET found a few ways to go viral during this year’s iconic show.
Due to the writer’s strike, there was no host!
Countless viewers took to the culture’s favorite platform, Twitter, to talk about the lack of cohesion in the show. The interludes in between performances were dance breaks. A DJ lived on stage throughout the entire show, sometimes missing cues. And many presenters went off book…resulting in some…um…interesting results. Please look up Ray J presenting with his former ex, but now current wife if you want to see what I mean.
Migos reunited and honored their fallen brother, Takeoff.
Audience members and viewers were stunned and uplifted to see the Migos team of Quavo and Offset reuniting for the first time since Takeoff’s death. A single spotlight separated them, saving a space for where Takeoff should have been. A spaceship also ignited during their performance, a call-out to Takeoff in a better place, while referencing his name. The two performed old hits such as their 2017 hit “Bad and Boujee,” bringing a nostalgic quality to the already emotional performance.
If you’re going to lipsync, make it believable.
The performances were endless at the BET Awards this year. However one notable theme, especially amongst the newer generation of rappers, seemed to be letting your backtrack play with no shame. From Latto, to Glorilla, to Kaliii the new generation rap girlies seemed to be more focused on their dance moves than their lipsyncing skills. Leaving many awkward moments where the audience couldn’t help but notice the backtracks not aligning with their mouths. Some folks were saying it was an audio issue, while others were quick to mention the Tiktok rappers are just not as dutifully trained as the OGs because they don’t have to be.
Patti Labelle’s tribute to Tina was simply, not the best.
I was one of many people ecstatic to watch the legendary Patti Labelle honor the late Tina Turner. However we were all a little perplexed when we realized Auntie Patti was struggling through Tina’s iconic banger “The Best.” The production team did their best to cover it up. You know, sudden zoom-outs, and obscure angles of the stage, but even Patti realized she was flubbing the moment. Calling out to the audience “I can’t see the words I don’t know! I’m trying y’all!”. The performance ended on a literal high note, but Twitter was a flame discussing how BET should have better prepared the lyrics for the icon, or maybe Patti should have hidden it a little better?
Busta achieved more than most.
Rap legend, Busta Rhymes got emotional on stage as he accepted the lifetime achievement award. A fitting title for the rap star during the 50th anniversary of hip hop edition of the award show. He started his speech by saying he didn’t want to cry. A shocker, for a performer with such a hard exterior. He eventually cried and wiped his face with a towel. He went on to dedicate the award to his family, and discussed how starting his solo career was scary, but launched a revolution.
Coco got her flowers.
Best New Artist winner, Coco Jones is finally getting the recognition she deserves. She started on Disney Channel, but evidently was told she needed to change her image to continue with the network. Years later, she has a hit series, Bel-Air (the reboot of Fresh Prince of Bel Air on Peacock), and a chart topping freshman album. This best new artist win did not go unnoticed, as audiences said she deserved this and more. She also completely slayed her performance of her hit “I C U,” lip syncing not included :). The mike was ON ladies and gentlepersons.
Beyonce’s award reign continues.
Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter, queen of queens, entertainer of the universe, continued her reign as one of the most decorated musical artists of all time. The superstar, who is currently on her world tour, had three BET wins including a tie with SZA for best album. This was of course for her album, Renaissance. While SZA won for S.O.S. Beyonce also nagged the BET HER award and the viewer’s choice award for last year’s summer hit “Break My Soul.” The queen keeps winning. She now has a total of 36 BET awards, more than anyone in the show’s history.
by the numbers
- 3 hours and 52 minutes: how long this year’s award show lasted despite being scheduled for 3:30 minutes.
- 36: the number of BET awards Beyonce now has, outwinning everyone in the show’s long history.
- 3: How many awards SZA and Beyonce both won, cementing themselves as the most decorated artists of the night.
- 40: The amount of performances in a hostless show, including current and past Hip Hop stars to celebrate the genre’s anniversary.
Special thanks to Taylor Evans for her contributions to The Buzz – 2023 BET Awards.