The 2023 BET Awards were filled with dozens of unforgettable moments, and featured the biggest and brightest stars in the entertainment industry. Taking place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, this year’s event lived up to its billing as culture’s biggest night.
After the two-hour pre-show – which included some stylish celebrities strutting on the red carpet – Lil Uzi Vert opened the BET Awards with his smash single “Just Wanna Rock,” followed by a medley DJ’ed by the legendary Kid Capri that included sets from The Sugar Hill, MC Lyte, and Big Daddy Kane, which jump started the string of region-themed performances in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th Anniversary.
Coco Jones won the first award of the evening for Best New Artist, and gave a stirring acceptance speech, captivating everyone in the audience. “Thank you so much to my culture, who has stood beside me – we were raised together, and it’s been a really long journey,” the actress and singer said. After a string of thank you’s, Jones then said “I just want to thank God so much for keeping me when I didn’t understand.”
“To all of my Black girls, we do have to fight a little harder to get what we deserve,” she continued. “But don’t stop fighting. Even when it doesn’t make sense, and you’re not sure how you’re going to get out of those circumstances – keep pushing, because we are deserving of great things.”
Latto, who also grabbed the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist later in the night, hit the stage to electrify the crowd with a live rendition of her smash “Put It On Da Floor,” then Kid Capri went into a West Coast medley which began with a tribute to the late Tupac Shakur and Nate Dogg. Warren G’s then rapped “Regulators,” followed by sets from Tyga, E-40, and a special performances from Davido, Lola Brooke, and an powerful reunion of OffSet and Quavo of Migos to celebrate their fallen groupmate and brother Takeoff, who was killed earlier this year in Houston.
Prior to Davido’s set, Teyana Taylor won Video Director of the Year. While the multi-hyphenate wasn’t in attendance, her mother accepted the award on her behalf, and Facetime’d the star so that she could give the crowd a proper speech. After a brief commercial break, the South had something to say. Trick Daddy, Uncle Luke, The Ying Yang Twins, Doechii, Trillville, Jeezy, T.I., Master P, and more, all delivered show-stopping, mini concerts of some of their biggest hits.
The rest of the evening’s medley sets included performances from Def Squad, and Reggae medley with Doug E. Fresh, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Fabolous, Styles P, Ja Rule, a special 50 year wrap-up from Mad Skillz, and dance round up from the best dance crazes in music history. Newcomers GloRilla and Ice Spice both had great individuals showings during the ceremony, with the latter doing three songs – “Munch,” “Princess Diana,” and “In Ha Mood.”
After a beautiful montage recognizing everyone that passed since the previous award show (Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Lance Reddick, Gangsta Boo, and Harry Belafonte, among others), Patti LaBelle paid tribute to the late, great Tina Turner, who passed last month.
Following an ode to Writers Guild of America by Muni Long, Swizz Beatz and Marlon Waynans presented Busta Rhymes with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The legendary emcee gave a passionate speech, chronicling his journey as a young rapper to a seasoned veteran. He then graced the stage with longtime collaborator Spliff Starr to perform the remix to “Ante Up” with MOP and Remy Ma, followed by his verses from “Scenario,” “Look At Me Now,” “Break Yo’ Neck,” “Give It 2 Me,” “New York Shit,” “Touch It,” and more.
In addition to the televised wins from Jones, Latto, and Taylor, Beyoncé, who is currently on her sold out world tour, brought home two awards – BET Her and the Viewer’s Choice Award, and Burna Boy won the statue for Best international Act. For the full list of tonight’s winners, click here.