On Tuesday night, the 2021 BET Hip-Hop Awards aired on BET from Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Center.
Boasting a live audience, the show was hosted by 85 South’s DC Young Fly, Chico Bean and Karlous Miller who opened up the event with a very lively homage to “the OG” rappers like Pimp C and, uhh, Soulja Boy.
As the night went on, audiences saw performances from Bia and Lil Jon, Young Thug, Gunna, Isaiah Rashad, Latto,and Tobe Nwigwe. Nelly also took the stage with a performance of his greatest hits over the years after accepting the I Am Hip-Hop Award.
“This just ain’t for me, this [is] for my whole area, my whole city,” Nelly said in part during his acceptance speech. “It’s a little different when you trying to rep for you and your crew and you trying to rep for a whole state. And just to be clear, I never had a co-sign. Nobody stood on stage and put their arm around me. Nobody gave me a feature, nobody put a chain around my neck. I was thrown in the deep end and told to swim. And we’re here today.”
While news of Nelly’s award and performance garnered mostly positive reactions from fans online, others were quick to point out the Country Grammar rapper’s history of sexual assault, which begs the question of whether or not hip-hop is really ready to have a reckoning when it comes to its propensity for consistently providing problematic (read in this case: arrested and charged) rappers platforms.
Another big win of the night went to Tyler, the Creator, who took home the award for Hip-Hop Album of the Year, Best Live Performer and the first ever Cultural Influence Award. In his speech, Tyler noted various hip-hop OG’s that helped “lay the foundation” and open the door for him such as Q-Tip, Andre 3000, Chuck Hugo, Busta Rhymes, Pharrell, Kanye West, Hype Williams and Missy Elliot.
Later in the evening, Elliott took to Twitter to give the Call Me If You Get Lost rapper his flowers, writing: “@tylerthecreator You are RARE & I’ve always admired your high LEVEL of CREATIVENESS to create your own lane. I am GRATEFUL for you shouting me out I cried tears of joy. I love u & you DESERVE this & your style will help other generations to be CREATIVE also.”
Later on during the ceremony, Elliott was also recognized with the Video Director of the Year award as well.
Other wins of the night include Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B. who were awarded for Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Collaboration, and Song of the Year for “WAP,” Saweetie who won for the Hustler of the Year Award, Yung Bleu for Best New Hip-Hop artist, Jay-Z for Impact Track and Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse for “What It Feels Like” with Nipsey Hussle, and Lil Baby who won for Hip-Hop Artist of the Year.
To see the full list of winners, head to bet.com.