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Top 2016 BET Awards Highlights + The Night’s Award Winners + ‘Freedom’ Performance

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Recording artists Beyonce (L) and Kendrick Lamar perform onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 26: Recording artists Beyonce (L) and Kendrick Lamar perform onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)

The star-studded event was LIT.  This year’s BET Awards kicked off live on June 26, 2016 in L.A. at the Nokia Theatre.  This year was better than ever before with so much anticipation around the legendary Prince tribute that featured performances throughout the show in his honor.  There were so many incredible and iconic moments of the nights that will go down in the history books, but none like this; here are a few that were truly unforgettable causing symptoms like, chill bumps and feelings of nearly dropping your panties, random screams of “freedom,” and subjectively raising your black power fist to the sky.

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With a whole lot of water during the show, the most was displayed in a killer opening by Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar performing their collaborative record from Lemonade, “Freedom.”  Bey’s female dancers started way through the audience while Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech played.  The red and fiery performance began when Beyonce revealed herself on stage in the middle of her dancers atop water.  There was kicking and splashing as male dancers also joined onstage and Kendrick rose in a hoodie spitting his verse to the song.  The two kicked and splashed together until it was over and we still craved more.

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Dave Chappelle introduced the first Prince tribute performance on to the stage.  Before doing so he spoke about the icon, “On April 21, we got that news, and literally our hearts were broken.  I was 11 years old when Purple Rain came out, and by the time I was 20, Prince had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. … We miss him dearly. And tonight we celebrate the rich legacy of this remarkable genius, who we are all so proud of.”  He introduced his “old friends” the Roots, Erykah Badu, and Bilal.  Badu performed a seamless “The Ballad of of Dorothy Parker” from 1987’s Sign O’ the Times LP.  The deepness was real as Badu covered the record with the band behind her so effortlessly.  Bilal took the stage on Purple Rain’s “The Beautiful Ones” in pure falsetto.  Mimicking Prince’s floor-humping awesomeness, he did that flawlessly.

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The next tribute came up with Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly collaborating on Prince/Apollonia duet from Purple Rain, “Take Me With U.”  Before the end, Jennifer Hudson took us to church with Purple Rain, belting out the lyrics in so much emotion.  She shut the house down with crowd participation in honor of our dearly beloved late Prince.  Maxwell hit the stage singing his “Lake By The Ocean” into Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U.”  He put his own spin on it with, “I went to the record store, Apple, Spotify too, and they told me ‘Boy you’d better try to make some music, which you can’t do–’cause Prince is the truth!”  Next up Janelle Monae killed it with a cheek-out dance medley of Prince’s hits like, “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life,” and “I Would Die 4 U.”

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Lastly in tribute, D’Angelo was supposed to take the stage with longtime Prince collaborator/former-fiance’/friend, Sheila E.  Apparently, word throughout the show was he backed out, according to Billboard.  Sheila E. took the stage by herself with her one of kind drumming.  She was accompanied by members of her band and several of Prince’s background singers.  It was a nearly 10-minute-medley of a hosts of hits.  She was joined on stage by Jerome Benton, of The Time and Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia and tears poured.  Prince was looking down in complete awe and made proud.

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Activist and actor Jesse Williams made a powerful lasting speech after he won the 2016 Humanitarian Award last night.  It was remarkable and touching to all as he thanked also his parents and wife.  He spoke nothing but truth and woke up the sleep in peace and letting know that black lives do matter.

Here is the full list of Award Winners of the night:

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist

Adele

Andra Day

WINNER: Beyoncé

K. Michelle

Rihanna

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist

WINNER: Bryson Tiller

Chris Brown

Jeremih

The Weeknd

Tyrese

Best Group

2 Chainz & Lil Wayne

WINNER: Drake & Future

Puff Daddy & The Family

Rae Sremmurd

The Internet

Best Collaboration

Big Sean feat. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign – “Play No Games”

Big Sean feat. Kanye West & John Legend – “One Man Can Change the World”

Future feat. Drake – “Where Ya At”

Nicki Minaj feat. Beyoncé – “Feeling Myself”

WINNER: Rihanna feat. Drake – “Work”

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist

WINNER: Drake

Fetty Wap

Future

J. Cole

Kanye West

Kendrick Lamar

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist

Dej Loaf

Lil Kim

Missy Elliott

WINNER: Nicki Minaj

Remy Ma

Video of the Year

WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”

Bryson Tiller – “Don’t”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

Rihanna feat. Drake – “Work”

Video Director of the Year

Benny Boom

Chris Brown

Colin Tilley & The Little Homies

WINNER: Director X

Hype Williams

Best New Artist

Alessia Cara

Andra Day

WINNER: Bryson Tiller

Kehlani

Tory Lanez

Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award

Anthony Brown & Group Therapy

Erica Campbell

WINNER: Kirk Franklin

Lecrae

Tamela Mann

Tasha Cobbs

Best Actress

Gabrielle Union

Kerry Washington

WINNER: Taraji P. Henson

Tracee Ellis Ross

Viola Davis

Best Actor

Anthony Anderson

Courtney B. Vance

Idris Elba

WINNER: Michael B. Jordan

O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Youngstars Award

WINNER: Amandla Stenberg

Quvenzhané Wallis

Silentó

Willow Smith

Yara Shahidi

Best Movie

Beasts of No Nation

Concussion

Creed

Dope

WINNER: Straight Outta Compton

Sportswoman of the Year

Cheyenne Woods

Gabrielle Douglas

WINNER: Serena Williams

Skylar Diggins

Venus Williams

Sportsman of the Year

Cam Newton

Kobe Bryant

LeBron James

Odell Beckham Jr.

WINNER: Stephen Curry

Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award

WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”

Bryson Tiller – “Don’t”

Chris Brown – “Back to Sleep”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Future feat. Drake – “Where Ya At”

Rihanna feat. Drake – “Work”

Centric Award

Andra Day – “Rise Up”

WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”

K. Michelle – “Not a Little Bit”

Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money”

The Internet – “Under Control”

Best International Act Africa

Aka (South Africa)

WINNER: Black Coffee (South Africa)

Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)

Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania)

Mzvee (Ghana)

Serge Beynaud (Cote D’ivoire)

WINNER: Wizkid (Nigeria)

Yemi Alade (Nigeria)

Best International Act U.K.

Kano

Krept & Konan

Lianne La Havas

WINNER: Skepta

Stormzy

Tinie Tempah

Lifetime Achievement Award

WINNER: Samuel L. Jackson

Photo Credit(s): thisisrnb, star tribune, indystar, pigeonsandplanes, us magazine, tucson, nydailynews, hypetrack, latimes, hypebeast, global grind, usatoday

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