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The Most ‘Woke’ BET Hip Hop Awards Performances

BET Hip Hop Awards

This year’s BET Hip Hop Awards proved to be more than just a place for rappers to be recognized and display their talents in front of their industry peers, as well as to those watching from home. It also provided a platform for artists to express themselves about the current state of race relations in America.

In a country where tensions are high and injustices continue to be a problem, artists are taking it upon themselves to speak out and let their followers know where they stand on these societal issues.

“Art imitates life” as the old saying goes, and these artists courageously took the stage in hopes of change.

Big K.R.I.T.

Dressed in an all black police uniform, Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. was revealed via spotlight and flashing red and blue lights to the award show audience as he began a spoken word piece about police brutality. In what started out calm, K.R.I.T. quickly escalated his vocal expression while describing reasons leading to racial profiling, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience. This piece can also be heard as a verse on Kenneth Whalum’s song “Might Not Be Ok.”

LECRAE

LeCrae bridges the gap between hip hop and gospel, but he isn’t afraid to address current issues. With his recent stance on police shootings and injustices, LeCrae spoke directly to Black culture and its hardships, as well as victories of the Black community in America.

“‘Cause we was taken from Africa/ Sold and treated like animals,” LeCrae said to the crowd. “Culturally denigrated/ And separated from families, but/ Somehow we made it this far and stood firm/ With nappy heads and perms/ Led for two terms.”

BET Hip Hop Awards 2016

Watch the rest of his performance here.

T.I.

While dressed in signature Black Panther Party attire, T.I. took to the stage with a compelling visual performance of his new single “We Will Not.” T.I. stood high above the audience on a staircase while the words of his song played on multiple screens behind him, and “protesters” appeared with signs before they were beaten down by men in police uniforms. The song itself promotes unity in the Black community, while taking a stand against oppression and police violence.

BET Hip Hop Awards 2016

Watch T.I.’s full performance here.