Curated by WYV Senior Editor Monica Cadena
When the BET Awards hit, they are on FIRE. This year’s 2016 Awards were absolutely no exception to this rule. From Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s utterly brilliant, water-soaked performance of “Freedom” to the sterling tributes to the too-soon-gone Prince, this year’s ceremony gave incredible performances that he, too, would have loved.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s performance was transcendent. The heavy, emotion-filled stomps into the water were as intense as the song itself. The performance truly set the bar for the following performances that evening, but they did not disappoint.
It was bittersweet to see Sheila E., once the leader of Prince’s band and a longtime friend and collaborator, pay tribute to him. Her brilliance and incredible musicianship have only gotten better over the years.
A lot has changed since Bilal’s debut album in the early 2000s, but it has only gotten better. Bilal directly channeled The Purple One in “The Beautiful Ones” (the closing song from Purple Rain), one of the strongest performances of the evening, with help from The Roots. From the moves to the voice to the spirit, he sings and writhes as though erotically speaking in tongues. Captain Kirk Douglas shreds on guitar alongside Bilal, making the interpretation even more incredible. This performance alone could make a person’s career if he was not already going strong. “Prince is just one of my favorite artists,” Bilal says. “So to be a part of this, it meant a lot to me as an artist, just because of how he inspired me.”
The Arch Android herself, Janelle Monae, also gave an incredible performance via a montage of Prince favorites, right down to white lace frills and assless chaps. Some of Prince’s greatest hits were featured in her energetic performance, including “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life” and “I Would Die for You.” Monae never disappoints as she returns for the second year in a row with her brilliant co-conspirators, Wondaland, in tow.
Want to get to know some of the artists that were featured in the BET Awards? Check out our playlist on Tidal to experience the full list with Beyoncé, or stream via Spotify below.