BET Awards Celebrate Donald Glover, Anita Baker And 'Black Panther' Host Jamie Foxx was there "to celebrate Black Excellence, Televised" — honoring Anita Baker, surprising Donald Glover and giving Meek Mill a platform to present his poignant new song.
NPR logo BET Awards Celebrate Donald Glover, Anita Baker And 'Black Panther'

BET Awards Celebrate Donald Glover, Anita Baker And 'Black Panther'

Host Jamie Foxx onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on Sunday in Los Angeles. Leon Bennett/Getty Images hide caption

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Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Host Jamie Foxx onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Jamie Foxx's Monologue

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Singer, actor and comedic behemoth Jamie Foxx kicked off the 2018 BET awards by exclaiming: "I'm not here to host, I'm here to celebrate — Black Excellence Televised." The actor spent a majority of his monologue highlighting the record-breaking blockbuster, and later brought to the stage the film's anti-hero, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) to repeat a profound line of his from the movie: "Bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage."

Donald Glover (Briefly) Revisits "This Is America"

Jamie Foxx went off script to shout out the presumptive music video of the year, rapper Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

"This young man," Foxx observed, "Childish Gambino, Donald Glover — singer, songwriter, philanthropist, movie star, overall badass. ... A true artist. ... I wanna acknowledge you." Right after, Foxx mimicked some of the video's instantly recognizable dance moves.

Foxx invited the Atlanta co-creator, director, producer and star to the stage, who said a few words of thanks. "I'm really happy to be in this room with everybody," said Glover, before shouting out Master of None co-writer and actress Lena Waithe along with actress, writer and director Issa Rae. "I really was not expecting to get up here."

Meek Mill Unveils "Stay Woke"

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Meek Mill, the Philadelphia rapper whose imprisonment for probation violations in late 2017 became a flashpoint for discussions and demonstrations in support of criminal justice reform, delivered a poignant performance of his new song, "Stay Woke," featuring Miguel. The song, which addresses both police brutality and the criminal justice system for its disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans, is the first that Mill has put out since being released from prison in April.

Mill's stage design depicted a Philadelphia street corner, occupied with children playing and people casually going about their day to day. But the normalcy was quickly disrupted by a rush of police officers rushing to arrest its black residents, culminating in a young girl being fatally shot and consoled by her mother, before an American flag is laid over her body. As Mill raps in the track: "How can I stand allegiance for the flag when they killing all our sons, all our dads?" During the performance, Mill also paid tribute to slain rappers XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo, wearing a hoodie featuring their images.

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Anita Baker Receives the Lifetime Achievement Award

Anita Baker was presented the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award with a stunning tribute performance from Jamie Foxx and other assorted music royalty — Marsha Ambrosius, Ledisi and Yolanda Adams, as well as speeched from fellow R&B nobility Patti Labelle, Mary J. Blige and Lalah Hathaway.

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Baker, an eight-time Grammy winner, gave a powerful speech calling for young artists to connect with industry veterans. "When you see the young ones, tap them on the shoulder. They need you. Young ones, now that you're here tonight, look around the room and find a veteran and tap them on the shoulder and introduce yourself," Baker said. "Let's take care of each other. We need each other. We can't do it alone."

Deacon Snoop

Snoop Doggy Dog, Uncle Snoop, Snoop Lion and now — Deacon Snoop. The rapper performed a set encapsulating the versatility of his now-legendary career — and, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of his storied 1993 debut record Doggystyle, performed the classic "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)" while wearing a Grambling State University jumpsuit, in representation of historically black universities and colleges. The Deacon then performed two songs from his new 32-track, gospel-themed album Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love.

Blackanda and Netflix

This year, BET organized its show around the theme of "Blackanda," a reference to the fictional country of Wakanda from the movie Black Panther. Except — Wakanda is already inherently black. Some added salt to that rebranding came during a commercial break, when Netflix debuted a brand-new spot featuring the black actors and creatives working for it — and not BET, the subtext seemed to be — in an homage to the iconic 1958 photo, "A Great Day in Harlem."

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2018 BET Award Recipients

Best Collaboration

DJ Khaled Feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller — "Wild Thoughts" — winner

Bruno Mars Feat. Cardi B — "Finesse (Remix)"

DJ Khaled Feat. Future, Beyoncé & Jay-Z - "Top Off"

Cardi B Feat. 21 Savage - "Bartier Cardi"

Kendrick Lamar Feat. Rihanna - "Loyalty."

French Montana Feat. Swae Lee - "Unforgettable"

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist

Cardi B — winner

Rapsody

Nicki Minaj

Remy Ma

Dej Loaf

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist

Kendrick Lamar — winner

DJ Khaled

Jay-Z

Drake

J. Cole

Best Group

Migos — winner

Chloe X Halle

A Tribe Called Quest

N.E.R.D

Rae Sremmurd

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist

Beyoncé — winner

Kehlani

H.E.R.

Rihanna

SZA

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist

Bruno Mars — winner

Chris Brown

The Weeknd

Khalid

Daniel Caesar

Best New Artist

SZA — winner

Goldlink

H.E.R.

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie

Daniel Caesar

Best International Act

Davido (Nigeria) — winner

Stormzy (U.K.)

Fally Ipupa (Democratic Republic Of The Congo)

Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)

Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)

Niska (France)

Distruction Boyz (South Africa)

Stefflon Don (U.K.)

J Hus (U.K.)

Dadju (France)

Booba (France)

Correction June 27, 2018

This article originally misspelled Lalah Hathaway's first name as Lala.