Destiny's Child perform "Cater 2 U" (2005)
Everyone’s hearts were beating a bit faster at the 2005 show when Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams brought Terrance Howard, Nelly, and Magic Johnson on stage — and serenaded the trio with unforgettable lap dances during one of the sexiest performances in BET Award history.
Jesse Williams speaks up (2016)
While accepting the Humanitarian Award in 2016, Jesse Williams delivered a passionate plea to the audience about the importance of black lives. While the speech went viral, with many inspired by his words, it also led to a petition calling for the actor to be fired from Grey’s Anatomy, for what the petition called a “racist rant.” In the end, Shonda Rhimes and ABC did not fire Willams, and he has continued to be an activist for black rights.
Prince tributes (2010)
During the 2010 BET Awards, performers such as Alicia Keys, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monae, and Esperanza Spalding all performed tributes to Prince while the legendary performer sat in the audience cheering them on. LaBelle threw her shoes off as she belted out her solo, leading Prince to catch one and hold it up in the air, marking his approval of the performance.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar perform "Freedom" (2016)
When two of the best musicians in the world team up for an award show performance, it’s sure to be iconic — and that’s the only word to describe Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s performance of the uplifting anthem “Freedom.”
Bad Boy tribute (2015)
Diddy reunited with his Bad Boy Family for an unforgettable performance that featured Lil’ Kim, Ma$e, French Montana, and more.
Nicki Minaj forgets which award she won (2015)
In 2015, while accepting the Viewers Choice award, the “Chun-Li” rapper admitted that she didn’t know which prize she was accepting. But, like the queen she is, Minaj quickly recovered, thanking her fans and delivering an empowering message to everyone watching, telling the audience, “Please do not give up on yourself, no matter what.”
Eminem's disses Trump (2017)
The legendary rapper wasn’t at the 2017 show, but he delivered an a cappella freestyle from his hometown of Detroit. Never afraid of a political statement, Eminem touched on everything from NFL players taking a knee to racism to Trump’s frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago to the treatment of the military.
But perhaps his strongest statement came at the end, when he threw his middle finger up to any of his fans who are Trump supporters.
D'Angelo returns (2012)
During his first TV performance in 12 years, the singer brought some old-school soul back to the show and had everyone from Beyoncé to Jamie Foxx on their feet dancing.
Pharrell brings out Missy Elliott during "Come Get It Bae" (2014)
While opening the 2014 show, Pharrell surprised everyone when he brought out Missy Elliott to perform with him following the verteran rapper’s extended hiatus.
No shade? (2014)
While accepting the award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist during the 2014 show, Nicki Minaj incited controversy when she asserted that she writes all her own verses. While many took the remark as an insult directed toward fellow rapper Iggy Azalea, the “Feeling Myself” rapper was quick to shut down the rumor in a series of tweets that revealed her comments were an assertion that the assumption female artists can’t write their own music is sexist, and they are just as capable as their fellow male artists of writing meaningful lyrics.