The 2021 BET Awards were, as usual, full of surprises, with enough moments that lit up social media to forgive the at-times seemingly slapdash and slightly overlong production (going to commercial during performances should simply not be a thing, ever, especially in a show that ran almost four hours). Whether those moments prompted wig removals, like Jazmine Sullivan’s virtuoso vocal performance of “On It” with Ari Lennox, or roasting, like DaBaby’s bursting-at-the-seams, off-sync rendition of “Ball If I Want To,” BET put on a show worth talking about, pulling its fair share of online buzz even amid an NBA conference finals game with lots of dynamite moments of its own.
With so much chatter throughout the show, though, there will still a few moments that rose above the rest, causing more than just a stir. Instead, they felt more like culture-shifting occurrences, whose residual effects will ripple outward like waves in a pond when a stone breaks the surface. These may end up being the ones that inspire retrospectives as we look back on them as the inciting incidents for huge changes in the way things are. Here are the three biggest moments of the 2021 BET Awards.
Cardi B Announces Her Pregnancy
Joining Migos to perform their Culture III standouts “Straightenin‘” and “Type Sh*t,” Cardi B pulled another pregnancy reveal for the ages, walking out midway through the performance in a rhinestone-studded bodysuit with a sheer midriff to show off her belly. The crowd pop when she does says everything that needs to be said; Cardi is already helping to carve out a new status quo for mothers in entertainment, but adding another child to the mix makes things even more interesting. It’s one thing to be a working artist while pregnant, it’s another to keep working when you have a child, but it’s an another-other thing entirely to get pregnant again, keep working, and still outwork the dudes — including the one who helped make all these kids in the first place.
Lil Nas X Remembers The Times — And Makes Out With One Of His Dancers
When Lil Nas popped out in dazzling golden ancient Egypt-inspired regalia to perform “Montero,” it didn’t take long for Twitter to draw comparisons to Michael Jackson’s 1991 music video for “Remember The Times.” After all, that was the theme for Mike’s video, which despite being way before Nas’ time, is such a fixture of Black culture that I’m sure he’d been exposed to it about 100 times before he hit puberty. So when he broke out into the iconic choreography from that video with his dancers, a thrill of satisfaction shot through viewers’ timelines — then transformed when he called back to another legendary award show moment. In 2003, Madonna, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera made history with a same-sex kiss at the MTV VMAs, solidifying their status as queer icons. I imagine we’ll look back on Nas’ kiss with his dancer the same way, as a watershed moment of representation. Happy Pride!
Megan Thee Stallion Refuses(?) To Perform Alongside DaBaby
This one’s more of a developing situation, but viewers couldn’t help but note that despite their long string of collaborative hits together — including DJ Khaled’s “I Did It,” which they performed last night — Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby’s relationship seems to have strained to the point where at least one of them won’t share a stage with the other. While there could be any number of reasons why Meg slunk off stage after finishing her verse for “I Did It” without joining the group shot at the end (which included DaBaby, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and HER), considering their recent social media spat, which resulted in Meg unfollowing DaBaby across platforms, it’s almost assured we haven’t seen the end of this saga. One or the other may soon be called upon to address the rather obvious moment — in which case, another round of reactions wouldn’t be out of the question.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.