As is the case every year, the BET awards brought with it a night full of glamor and amazing moments.

Sure, Jack Harlow's multiple noms last night was perplexing and maybe a bit problematic; but for the most part, the night consisted of jaw-dropping performances that put on for the culture in a big way. Megan Thee Stallion gave a magnetic performance of her new single, "Thot Shit," as well as a heartwarming shout out to her late mother. Jazmine Sullivan duetted alongside Maxine Waters and Ari Lennox before taking home the award for Best Album, and some of rap's biggest icons took the stage to pay homage to the late DMX — and then, of course, there was Lil Nas X. Here are a few of the great moments that made up last night's awards.

Tyler, The Creator Performs "Lumberjack"

Tyler, the Creator's theatrical production of "Lumberjack" from his latest album, Call Me If You Get Lost, was one of the night's most unique performances. Pulling up in the back of a Rolls Royce, Tyler faced a vicious windstorm on stage as he rapped. He attempts to check his mail and grips onto the mailbox for dear life as the wind picks up and blows away his valet and the foundation of his house. It was a dramatic two minutes, to say the least.

Cardi B Pregnancy Announcement

One of the biggest moments of the night came with some shocking news, as Cardi B unveiled to the world that she was pregnant with her second child. During the Migos performance of "Straightenin'" and "Type Shit," the audience went wild when Cardi B gracefully swaggered onstage. She didn't even acknowledge the moment; instead she just rapped away and conquered her verse, allowing her massive baby bump to speak for itself. Not to mention she did all this blinged out in a Dolce & Gabbana onesie.

Lil Nas X's Steamy Make Out Session

Who else would be better to close out Pride Month with a bang? 2021 has seen Lil Nas X push the envelope as far as possible, as he continues to piss off conservatives everywhere with his unabashed homoeroticism. On Sunday night's performance on the BET Awards stage, Lil Nas X did not hold back, per usual, concluding his Egyptian-themed rendition of "Montero" with a steamy kiss with one of his male backup dancers. It was a hot and playful moment that shook the audience to its core and warranted standing ovations from Pose's MJ Rodriguez and others. He even got some incredible support on Twitter. "Lil Nas X did that," wrote Diddy. "Be Fearless!"

Another "Leave The Door Open" Performance

We've all heard it a million times at this point, but once again Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak gave another amazing performance of the Silk Sonic hit "Leave the Door Open." As the song concluded, Paak asked a hyped audience if they wanted to hear a new song, but he quickly admitted he was joking. "We still in the Top 10, and until that change, we gonna do this again and again and again," he added. The pair would later take home the Best Group award, despite having only one song to their name.

Queen Latifah Getting The Lifetime Achievement Award

Queen Latifah was overcome with emotion on Sunday night as she was presented with BET's Lifetime Achievement Award. Introduced by MC Lyte, who referred to Latifah as "my sister in hip-hop but even more importantly, my sister in life," and added that Latifah is "a woman who has been creating magic for decades – an undeniable, unstoppable force of nature." From her moments on film to her iconic rap and producing career, Lyte called Latifah a creative "Swiss Army Knife." More shout-outs followed from Megan Thee Stallion, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary J. Blige, Lil' Kim, and others before Latifah took the stage alongside her father.

"I am so extremely moved... I don't even know what to say," she said, choking up. She shouted out her late mother who passed in 2018, and showed the audience a picture of her, and she most importantly thanked her fans for supporting "every crazy-ass thing I've done over the years."

Culture News

Beyoncé Drops Movie Teaser and Tells Everyone to "Vote Like Our Lives Depend on It"

Beyoncé is releasing a new film and speaking out about the importance of voting in November.

This Sunday, Beyoncé received the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards.

Michelle Obama, who presented the award, introduced Beyoncé by saying, "No matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn't satisfied unless she's sharing all that shine she has with the next generation. She's always turning up, looking out, and making us all a little bigger, better, a little more fierce. And she's doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear. So to my girl, I just want to say, you inspire me. You inspire all of us."

Beyonc\u00e9 and Michelle Obama Beyoncé and Michelle ObamaConsequence of Sound


Keep Reading Show less
MUSIC

Is Future Problematic? A Look at One of Rap's Most Successful Misogynists

As the rapper’s latest baby mama drama unfolds, it’s time to hold Future accountable

Let's face it: It might be time to cancel Future.

Nayvadius Wilburn, otherwise known as the Atlanta trap icon Future, has historically had trouble taking personal responsibility for his actions.

For one, while he's always been frank about his battles with addiction, he's claimed to be (somehow) unaware of his music's influence on young kids.

Yet up-and-coming rapper Juice WRLD, who recorded a collaborative project with Future last year, admitted that the Atlanta rapper inspired him to start sipping cough syrup when he was in middle school. "When he told me that, I was like, 'Oh sh*t. What the f*ck have I done?" Future recently told Rolling Stone. "I didn't think I'd care about that stuff. Four years ago, I probably wouldn't have cared if he told me." Juice WRLD claimed Future "kind of apologized."

In a separate interview with Genius, Future admitted that he had actually stopped drinking cough syrup but remained mute on his sobriety out of fear that his fans would stop "loving him" if they knew he was sober. He mentioned that certain people in his inner circle pressured him to continue to use drugs and party. "The people around you are chasing the high so they want you to continue to chase that same high," he said.

Both the interviews came prior to the January release of his latest studio album, Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD, and they seemed to represent a dramatic shift in tone for the rapper. However, listening to the album, that growth and sense of responsibility were suddenly absent. "I'm too rich to be sober," he sings on "Overdose," "got the whole world taking Xan's"; he turns a hint of regret into a braggadocio statement. He describes on "Unicorn Purp" how he's "on that purp like a unicorn."

But both fans and critics were rather forgiving of these discrepancies, suggesting that this album was the end of the old Future. "I think this is the ending of Future that we once knew," said Rory on The Joe Budden Podcast. "It did feel that way. I think the content is changing now."

But Budden wasn't as forgiving, reminding listeners of his other discrepancies.

After acknowledging the rapper's hypocritical attitude toward drug use, Budden went on to address other hypocrisies that Future's faced and failed to address. In an interview with Beats 1, Future claimed that his ex-wife, Ciara, introduced their kid to her new husband, Russel Wilson, before "she allowed Wilson and Future to meet." "He do exactly what she tell him to do," Future said, mentioning that Wilson should be a "man" and forbid Ciara from even mentioning his name in public. "If that was me, she couldn't even bring his name up. She know that. She couldn't even bring her exes' names up...don't give that sh*t no energy."

"Why does he keep telling us how everybody else should be behaving?" Budden said of the interview. "And all of it is to benefit him," his co-host Rory added. Budden went on to say that he doesn't respect Future as a man: "In real life, we ain't see no maturation from Future!" When asked for a response, Future said candidly, "I don't f*ck with Joe Budden." He added, "He got a badass bitch though."

The latter comment falls in line with how the rapper has historically objectified women.

He has historically denied culpability when it comes to mistreating his sexual partners. Future and Ciara have been at each other's throats since 2015 in what has been a very public post-breakup feud. The soon-to-be newlyweds called it quits after Ciara discovered that the rapper had been sleeping with his wardrobe consultant. Future denied the allegations, claiming he was the one to call it quits and that he just stuck it out because he felt embarrassed for her.

Since then, the two have had a tumultuous back and forth. Future has bad-mouthed his ex on social media multiple times, allegedly costing Ciara an endorsement deal in the process. Future's public airing out of his frustrations has also inspired fans to be equally vicious, continuously coming to the rapper's defense to attack Ciara and her new husband.

While Ciara and Future share custody of their kid together, the rapper has five additional baby mamas, with a sixth stepping forward this week. Eliza Reign, the latest to have a child by the rapper, alleged that she initially received death threats after deciding to keep the baby; and since the little girl's birth, she's been unable to get in contact with Future.

He's body-shamed and degraded his female fans.

Future's toxic behavior has hardly tainted his legacy as an artist, but there have been enough instances to warrant severe criticism. Back in March, rumors started to fly that Future wouldn't allow "fattie" women to enter a club he was performing at in Miami. He denied the allegations, saying, "I love all women." He additionally came under scrutiny in 2017 when he said on Twitter that his "kids gotta make a sacrifice" for having a superstar dad. The statement came a year after one of his baby mamas sued him for "emotional neglect" of their son, citing that the child has "emotional and behavioral issues" as a result of Future's bad parenting.

A few months after the release of WIZRD, Future announced the release of a surprise EP called SAVE ME. The EP, which critics have derided as his most thematically stifling, attempted to paint a more sympathetic narrative of the artist. "I only call you when I'm faded / Your arms around me, come and save me," he sings on "Xanax Damage," referring to his continued Xanax abuse. "I've been possessed, they wanna take my soul," he sings on "Love Thy Enemies." "Save my flesh, I'm in need of your love."

Future clearly sees himself as a creative martyr, as someone who's sacrificed his health and happiness in order to create great art and keep his fans. But even in his darkest and most vulnerable moments, obnoxious lyrics like, "I'm gettin' cocky, treat a good girl like she ran down / Catch an attitude I'ma go and f*ck your friend now," squash any empathy one could have for the 35-year-old. While he attempts to paint himself as a lost soul in need of guidance, the #MeToo movement has proven that misogynistic men will do anything to frame themselves as victims in order to ultimately direct attention away from those who have suffered as a result of their ignorance.

Future hasn't matured; he's just changed his narrative. In January, when asked for his opinion on the downfall of R. Kelly, Future said: "When you give things too much attention, they blow up...stop talking about it, it'll go away." That bit of advice seems to be Future's calling card, and while ignorance is clearly bliss in the Hip-Hop community, at what point are we going to start holding our favorite artists to a higher standard?

MUSIC

"Hot Girl Summer" vs. "Summertime Sadness": Lies the Internet Told Me

Megan Thee Stallion told us it's hot girl summer, but what happens when you're not hot?

If you haven't heard, we're in the midst of Hot Girl Summer.

The term was coined by rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who created an alter ego named "Hot Girl Meg" to accompany the release of her debut mixtape, Fever. Following its release on May 17, the term "hot girl" quickly took off online, becoming a symbol of a metamorphosis into an upgraded, more confident version of oneself.

Stallion later elaborated on the phrase's connotations, clarifying that it was meant to be gender-neutral. "So it's just basically about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you, not giving a damn about what nobody gotta say about it," she said. "You definitely have to be a person that could be like the life of the party, and … you know, just a bad bitch."

In typical Internet fashion, the term's message of carefree hyper-sexual-liberation didn't hold up for long against the online world's nihilistic bend. Quickly, Hot Girl Summer memes—those quiet, wry expressions of our online collective consciousness—began cropping up. Though many of them featured photos of people celebrating their own radiant auras, more lamented the failure of Hot Girl Summer, revealing the disappointment lingering just beneath the the term's glossy surface. Refracted through memes, the phrase revealed its own fragility: "me tweeting 'hot girl summer' and then sitting in my room texting 'haha hey what r u doin'" read one. Another, more sobering message: "who was I kidding? I was never meant to have a hot girl summer lmaooo likeee I'm too loving." Another: "how am I supposed to have a hot girl summer with $5?"


Apparently, "hot girl summer" can be shattered by a sad album, or by falling in love.

Sure enough, "hot girl summer" has become a polarizing term that feels liberating for some but promises much to others while actually exacerbating their own self-consciousness and uncertainty.



Predictably, several weeks after Megan Thee Stallion set Hot Girl Summer into motion, Lana Del Rey's 2012 hit "Summertime Sadness" returned to the charts.

"Summertime Sadness" offers a marked alternative to the "hot girl" way of life. While "hot girl summer" connotes unconditional self-love and radical abandon, "summertime sadness" permits languorous hours lying beneath one's fan, mourning anything: the state of the world, one's love life, or lack of funds. "Hot girl summer" is exuberant, brash, performative. "Summertime Sadness" is depressed, tongue-in-cheek, firmly planted in the shade. If "hot girl summer" embodies the untouchable glam of stars of the early aughts, like Britney and Beyoncé, "summertime sadness" is the domain of Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Halsey, and their decidedly anti-pop ethos.

Together, these two divergent summertime pathways highlight a contrast that is very specific to the Internet. The online sphere thrives on polarization, and often a single scroll through recent posts reveals both performative ecstasy and equally performative, exaggerated depressive sentiments. The Internet has always thrived on these kinds of contrasts, as by nature it is well-suited to black-and-white thinking. People are either "cancelled" or deified. There is no such thing as "neutral" or "middle-of-the-road." One is either perpetually bikini-clad and living out a Hot Girl Summer or fully surrendering to the rip tide of summertime sadness. There is no in between.

In reality, however, sharp binaries rarely hold up when they exit the screen and join the equally chaotic but much less starkly divided corporeal world. Both Hot Girl Summer and "summertime sadness" are aesthetically beautiful in the conceptual realm; both begin to glitch when used as blueprints for how to live.

After all, no human is capable of existing in a perpetual state of Hot Girl Summer—not even the bikini models, LA hustlers, and influencers whose online profiles embody the term, but who have quietly and consistently spoken out about the falsity, emptiness, and depression that tends to accompany their professions.

Similarly, not even the Internet's self-proclaimed sad girls exist in a perpetual, stagnant state of summertime sadness. When that sadness does arise, it is rarely of the languorous, vintage-styled sort that Del Rey's early career promoted. In this, "summertime sadness" is equally as hollow and ephemeral as Hot Girl Summer.

Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Viewed this way, the two terms are far more similar than they initially seem. They are both designed to be surreal and cartoonishly dramatic. They both advocate for not really caring about anything, yet somehow simultaneously promote an all-consuming fixation on oneself.

In this, they both reflect social media as a whole. For all of the ways it promises to connect us, social media has become an echo chamber through which we perform and obsess over fixed, simplified, and ultimately nonexistent versions of ourselves."Hot girl summer" is about being single, feeling fantastic, and not giving a f*ck all at the same time; it connotes billboards, consumption, sugar, perma-smiles. "Summertime sadness" is about languishing inside one's own brain, clinging to a lost love, passively accepting a jaded worldview.

Still, both "hot girl summer" and "summertime sadness" have a time and a place, and they each make for great Instagram captions—but neither should suffice as a permanent way to spend one's summer months. Whereas the Internet thrives on isolated circuits of people with similar views, all-encompassing labels, and quick fixes, real life is far more defined by monotonous repetition, complex relationships, and murky questions that lack definitive answers.

In this corporeal reality, no one is a brand. No influencer is solely comprised of makeup and white teeth; most fitness models have cheat days; most online spiritual coaches don't constantly emanate love and incense; and most managers of depression meme accounts do not spend all of their time lying on piles of rotting pizza and dirty clothes (hopefully).

But it's only July; many summer nights still stretch out before us. When we find ourselves at the impasse between Hot Girl Summer and summertime sadness, perhaps we don't have to choose either path. Maybe we can make peace with the fact that we all have a little of both within us.

MUSIC

Cardi B's "Press" Video Implies That Her Felony Charges Were a Publicity Stunt

Was Cardi B's 2018 assault a meticulously preplanned publicity stunt?

On Friday, June 21, Cardi B entered a courtroom.

She wore a black pantsuit with pink lapels and high heels; her gleaming hair fell around her face in straight lines. She proceeded to plead not guilty to felony charges that stemmed from a 2018 fight in a strip club in Queens.

Five days later, she dropped the video for her song "Press," which also finds her in a courtroom. Dressed in a white suit with an extravagant neck ruff, she delivers the kind of searing verses that made her famous while a white man screams at her—until he starts bleeding from the neck. Carnage ensues.

Cardi B - Press [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Though the line between Cardi B's life and her art has always been blurred, the "Press" video erases that division entirely. The fact that the video so clearly parallels real events—along with the fact that Cardi refused to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge that would've almost certainly gotten her no jail time—raises the question: Was Cardi B's decision to refuse to plead guilty just a publicity stunt?

After all, even the fact that news of Cardi B's felony charge and court date broke in the same week as this video's release hints at some sort of premeditation. Even more suspicious: The assault in question was apparently preplanned as well. According to her felony indictment, "The defendant used social media accounts to communicate and coordinate the date, time, location, and target of a planned assault. Tawana Jackson-Motel and Belcalis Almanzar discussed payment of money in exchange for the commission for a planned assault. Jeffrey Bush prepared to video record the assault." In light of this, if convicted, Cardi faces up to 4 years in prison. It seems like all this might be a kind of experimental art piece, or maybe one of the more complicated and risky marketing campaigns in recent memory.

Cardi B Surrenders to Police in Strip Club Fight www.youtube.com

All this makes for a lot of media coverage, which is exactly what the ever-antagonistic Cardi B shouts that she doesn't need in "Press." The video finds its star completely in charge, declaring that she doesn't need any press or anyone at all to back her up as she ascends to the top.

Regardless of its messages, the video is a powerful visual counterpart to an already fantastic song. It's clearly designed to raise eyebrows: Beginning with a woman-on-woman kiss, featuring literally the maximum amount of nudity as YouTube's censors will allow, punctuated by gunshots, and bloodstained from beginning to end, it's a slideshow of Hollywood's most eye-catching pleasures but with a twist. For once, it's a woman pulling the trigger.

Like much of Cardi B's career, her new video and the possible publicity stunt surrounding its release are simultaneously empowering and destructive, magnetic and also undeniably messy. "Press" is full of mixed messages. She kills the white lawyers and jury who spew silent words of rage at her, which could be a pointed jab at the racial bias that leads to the mass incarceration of people of color; but later in the video, she seems to kill all the female dancers around her, backtracking on any themes of solidarity. In the end, there's only one clear point: This is all about the cult of Cardi B.


Image via Time Magazine

In some ways, Cardi acts as a kind of Lilith figure in the video—Lilith being the most notorious demon in Judaism. As the story goes, Lilith was Adam's first wife in the garden of Eden, but after refusing to submit to her husband's sexual requests, she wound up fleeing and embarking on a murderous rampage. In modern times, Lilith has been reclaimed as a feminist icon, an embodiment of the aggressive sexuality, freedom, and unassailable dominance that women are rarely given the tools to manifest, but which comprise the legacies of most of history's so-called "great men."

Like Lilith, Cardi B abdicates her role within the system and fights fire with fire in "Press." In that spirit, her possibly preplanned arrest may be a f**k-you to the criminal justice system, to white male-led hegemonies, and to the media at large. But it's not an ode to politically correct liberals, either, not exactly a feminist anthem. Ultimately, it's a battle cry, a declaration of independence at a distorted and violent moment in American history The point is clear: Cardi B isn't going to stop wreaking havoc, and we're not going to stop watching.

MUSIC

The Best Moments from the 2019 BET Awards

The BET Awards brought together the personal and the political while showcasing today's top talent.

A tribute to Nipsey Hussle.

BET

Last night, The BET Awards reminded everyone that most mainstream entertainment award shows don't adequately feature the energy, talent, and perseverance of inspiring black artists.

The show was personal, political, entertaining, fun, inspiring, and moving. The abundant talent on display reminded audiences how overlooked these incredible artists have been (and continue to be) by mainstream culture

Regina Hall's Opening Number

Host Regina Hall & Sugar Bear Perform "Do You Know What Time It Is?," "Da Butt" & “Run Joe"! www.youtube.com

Regina Hall got to live out her Homecoming fantasy by recreating Beyonce's epic performance as a DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) Go-Go routine. The Washington, DC native used her host position to shed light on the #DontMuteDC movement. Ronald Moten, a D.C. native and Go-Go promoter, sparked the #DontMuteDC movement when a record store that played the DMV's music was pressured by new residents in a nearby condo to stop. The #DontMuteDC movement demonstrates one of the many effects of gentrification across the country.

Sugar Bear, a member of the DMV-based Go-Go band E.U., performed his 80s' go-go hits, "Do You Know What Time It Is," "Da Butt," and "Run Joe," while Hall and Taraji P. Henson shook their booties to the bops.

Marsai Martin Created A Meme

The youngest producer in Hollywood won the Young Stars Award (to no one's surprise but her own). Her reaction was hysterical and memed by many. .

Doja Cat's Red Carpet Look

Doja Cat brought camp to the BET Awards. The 23-year-old wore an outfit worthy of her name, rocking an all-pink dress made of yarn, a cat feather headpiece, and futuristic shades that said, "Meow meow."

The Icon, The Legend: Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige Performs “My Life," Real Love," & More In ICONIC Performance! | BET Awards 2019 www.youtube.com

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul brought the house down. After being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, Blige took the stage herself to honor her own work. The audience jammed out to the singer's iconic discography. Even Lil' Kim popped in to remind everyone she's still got it, rapping her verse on "I Can Love You." The smooth Method Man also made an appearance to rap the intro of "You're All I Need."

Lizzo Performs "Truth Hurts"

Lizzo Proves She's 100% That B***h In “Truth Hurts" Performance! | BET Awards 2019 www.youtube.com

The breakout performance of the evening had to be Lizzo's rendition of "Truth Hurts." The 31-year-old singer owned the stage, even whipping out a flute for a head-bopping solo.

Mama Burna's Speech

Burna Boy's mother accepted the Best International Act award on behalf of her son. She took a moment in her speech to spread the message, "Every black person, please remember that you were Africans before you became anything else."

Exonerated 5 Receive a Standing Ovation

The Exonerated Five Are Honored For Their Truth & Resilience | BET Awards 2019 www.youtube.com

Last night, the BET Awards took a moment to highlight the injustices black people still face in our country.

Regina King renamed the Central Park Five—Raymond Santana Jr., Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Korey Wise, and Kevin Richardson—the Exonerated Five. The men are finally receiving proper recognition after they were wrongly accused of raping a jogger in NYC when they were teenagers. The men received a standing ovation.

Tyler Perry's Powerful Speech

Tyler Perry Gives Powerful Speech Of Motivation As He Accepts Ultimate Icon Award | BET Awards 2019 www.youtube.com

Tyler Perry accepted the Ultimate Icon Award with grace, recounting his upbringing and how that informed his desire to be an inspiration rather than an icon. Perry reminded his peers that instead of trying to get a seat at the table, he built his own table in Atlanta.

He candidly expressed that every successful black American should try to bring other black people into their success, like he did, explaining, "When I started hiring Taraji, Viola Davis, and Idris Elba, they couldn't get jobs in this town, but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them."

He concluded by noting that the land he owns in Atlanta (for his studio) is in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. He then proudly proclaimed, "There were Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million negroes enslaved. Now, that land is owned by one negro."

Nipsey Hussle is Honored

YG, DJ Khaled & Marsha Ambrosius & John Legend Perform Tribute to Nipsey Hussle | BET Awards 2019 www.youtube.com

Nipsey Hussle, who posthumously received the Humanitarian Award, was honored with a tribute performance by Marsha Ambrosious, Y.G., DJ Khaled, and John Legend.

Marsha Ambrosious began by singing a heartfelt rendition of "The Marathon Continues." Hussle's close friend, Y.G., performed "Last Time I Checc'd" shouting out, "Nip Hussle I love you, bro." Finally, DJ Khaled and John Legend closed out the evening on a high-note with their choir rendition of Hussle's "Higher."

The performance concluded with the audience raising a finger to the sky to remind everyone, again, "The Marathon Continues."