The BET Awards 2021 are almost upon us!
Set to air tonight live from LA’s Microsoft Theater, the show promises a host of must-see moments as it welcomes back live audiences for the first time since the global health crisis.
To celebrate this year’s installment of Culture’s Biggest Night (which boasts the theme ‘Year of the Woman’), That Grape Juice is counting down our Top BET Awards Moments from past ceremonies.
What are you waiting for? Check our picks out below…
15. Fugees Reunion (2005)
After a decade-long hiatus, the trailblazing Hip-Hop trio reunited for dynamite showing at the 2005 installment of the show. The group journeyed through hits such as ‘Ready Or Not,’ ‘Fu gee La’ and ‘Killing Me Softly.’ Sadly, the revival was short-lived following yet more drama between members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michael.
14. Rick James Make It Known… “I’m Rick James B*tch!” (2004)
This night saw Rick James, one of music’s most unforgettable talents, deliver one of Pop culture’s most unforgettable lines live on-stage.
After his performance of ‘Fire & Desire’ with Teena Marie, James seized the moment to call out someone backstage who didn’t recognize him. As the stunned audience watched on, he made sure errbody knew that “never mind who you thought I was, I’m Rick James, b*tch!”
13. Janet Jackson’s Ultimate Icon Tribute (2015)
When a mega-star like Janet Jackson is being honored, as she was at the 2015 ceremony, a seismic salute is a must. As such, just before hitting the stage to accept the Ultimate Icon Award, the legend was the subject of a dynamite dance tribute courtesy of Ciara, Jason Derulo, and Tinashe. Wowing with the slick choreography that made Ms. Jackson was one of the best to ever do it, this was everything.
12. Mo’Nique’s Beyonce Crazy In Love Routine (2004)
Prior to biting into serious acting roles in movies such as ‘Precious’ and ‘Blackbird,’ Mo’Nique was Black entertainment’s “it” comedienne.
She flexed her funny bone (and more) during her high-octane tribute to Beyonce while hosting the 2003 show. Backed by a bevy of full-bodied beauties, Mo’ had Bey had the entire venue on their feet with her showing of ‘Crazy In Love.’
11. Alicia Keys Teams With TLC, SWV & En Vogue
By 2008 Alicia Keys had amassed a wealth of success with her own catalog of hits. However, this didn’t stop her from bringing her ‘Teenage Love Affair’ with R&B girl groups into reality. Long before the network’s current hit ‘The Encore’ paid homage to girl groups, Keys thrilled by sharing the stage with SWV, En Vogue, and TLC for a medley of their respective tracks during her actioned-packed performance. They did that!
10. Destiny’s Child’s All-Star Lap Dance (2005)
Destiny’s Child charged onto the scene with maximum impact and made every effort to ensure their final album campaign climaxed in the same way.
Introduced to the world as fresh-faced teens, by 2005 Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams were fly young women and keen to flaunt it.
To drive home their agenda, the trio treated Terrence Howard, Nelly, and Magic Johnson to a seductive lap dance during their titillating performance ‘Cater 2 U.’
DC3 asked the audience “do you want it like this?” and our answer is a resounding yes each and every time.
9. Brandy Rocks Whitney Houston Tribute (2012)
Whitney Houston‘s sudden death in 2012 saw an outpouring of emotion from the music industry at large. Yet, few could have bested the beast Brandy unleashed while performing ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ as part of this all-star tribute. From the choreography to the nuanced vocals, B-Rocka proved the best Nippy tribute need not feature a long gown or belting ballad.
8. Jennifer Hudson & Jennifer Holliday Belt ‘And I Am Telling You’ (2007)
2006 saw ‘Dreamgirls’ takeover the world, as such it was only fitting that 2007 saw it clean house across music and movie award shows. Of the many “moments” the film’s promotional run generated, BET’s teaming of Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday to perform the ‘And I Am Telling You’ (the song that kicked off their respective careers) is arguably one of the most resonating.
By no means a pitch-perfect affair, what it lacked in technicality was more than remedied by an overflow of genuine emotion.
7. Chris Brown’s Moving Michael Jackson Performance (2010)
The year 2009 is one we’re sure Chris Brown will like to forget, yet it’s a year – in the public’s eyes – that he’s unlikely to ever truly shake off.
Tragically, the said year also brought the loss of Michael Jackson – a hero of Brown’s who he never got to tribute following his passing. A fact no doubt attributable to his well-documented troubles at the time.
Still, as the age-old saying goes, often the best is saved to last. And few could deny that Brown’s epic dance salute to his icon reigned and ranked above any that preceded it. The genuine show of emotion really helped cement the homage as a full-circle moment etched in time.
6. C.Breezy Again. This time, his ‘Take You Down’ Dance-Off With Ciara (2008)
While few recall the ‘With You’ performance that preceded, it’s doubtful many could forget the blockbuster journey Chris and guest Ciara took us on in a mere matter of minutes.
Their Matrix-themed dance-off to Brown’s ‘Take You Down’ and ‘Turntables’ (from Ci’s ‘Fantasy Ride)’ remains all sorts of explosive. A masterclass in talent and precision.
5. Kelly Rowland’s Amazing ‘Motivation’ Performance (2011)
As keen appreciators of Kelly Rowland’s talent, there’d always been the desire from us to see her showcase the best of her solo potential on a major stage.
That dream came to fire-filled fruition in 2011 when, armed with mega-hit ‘Motivation,’ Ms. Kelly turned all the way up with this sizzling showcase of showmanship.
The Janet Jackson-inspired concept, the choreography, the confidence…she understood the assignment and scored 10s across the board! Epic!
4. Beyonce Becomes…Beyonce (2003)
For almost two decades, Beyonce has enjoyed an omnipresence and omnipotence many of her contemporaries would quite literally sacrifice for.
And while it’s undeniable that Destiny’s Child was the foundation from which she was able to catapult into new strata’s of fame, we deem her 2003 BET performance of ‘Crazy In Love’ as the official moment she became a mononym. The moment Beyonce Knowles became…Beyonce.
For, after mounting an impressive promo campaign for the single, this particular showing – with its huge letters and an army of dancers – cemented Bey as larger than life. Or at the very least, a larger force than any of the competition.
3. Ciara Blazes With ‘Body Party’ (2013)
So much is said about Ciara, yet there quite literally is no denying the diva’s dynamism on stage. She’s a dominator, an enchanter, and easily one of this generation’s most captivating live talents.
She showcased all these traits and more at the 2013 BET Awards, where she wowed with ‘I’m Out’ and ‘Body Party’ from her self-titled album also released that year.
That climatic glide across the floor still brings tears of joy to our eyes ’til this day.
2. Beyonce & Jay-Z Dominate With ‘Deja Vu’ (2006)
Upon release to radio in June 2006, ‘Deja Vu’ – the lead release from Beyonce’s sophomore album ‘B’Day’ – was greeted by a mixed response. The pendulum quickly swung in the singer’s favor, though, when she sold the song like the rent was due at the BET Awards just two days later.
Mrs. Carter slid and sashayed across the stage with a conviction that left folk no option but to believe every word sung. A true superstar showing.
1. Michael Jackson Jams With James Brown (2003)
When the King saluted the Godfather.
A Michael Jackson interview would rarely pass without mention of his idol James Brown. Indeed, for all the praise heaped on the icon, he made it routine to pay continued homage to the Soul legend – who he credited with fuelling his love for dance and its dynamic delivery.
Hence it was heart-warming to soak in the overflow of love shared between the two at the 2003 event when MJ joined James onstage for a mega-watt moment of music and dance. Beyond the viewers at home, it was clear the magical moment was one that meant more to both of the late greats than can be conveyed.
Do you agree with our picks? Let us know…