Cardi B, the most nominated act at the 2019 BET Awards, kicked off the show with an explosive performance of her new single “Press.”
Cardi B’s husband, Offset of the rap group Migos, started the performance Sunday, which included Cardi B rapping on top of Offset while he sat on chair.
Actress Regina Hall, who is hosting the show airing live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, appeared in a sketch imitating Beyoncé during the behind-the-scenes moments of her recent Coachella Netflix documentary — as Hall explained the importance of her home town of Washington, D.C., to background dancers. Hall brought Beyoncé’s iconic performance to life after the sketch, appearing onstage with a full marching band while Sugar Bear from the D.C.-based go-go band E.U. performed the 1988 hit, “Da Butt.”
“Beyoncé would be proud,” actress Yara Shahidi said before she presented the first award of the night — best new artist — to rapper Lil Baby.
“This is my first time receiving an award,” he said. “I just want to thank my fans.”
Later in the show, Nipsey Hussle, the late rapper who was a respected and beloved community activist in South Los Angeles, will be honored with the Humanitarian Award. Hussle is also nominated for best hip-hop male artist at the awards show.
Born Ermias Asghedom, Hussle was shot to death on March 31 outside his South Los Angeles clothing store in what police said was a personal dispute. His funeral, where Beyoncé and Jay-Z were among the big-name celebrities who attended, was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The last celebrity funeral held at the concert arena was Michael Jackson’s in 2009.
After releasing a number of successful mixtapes, Hussle found greater success with “Victory Lap,” his major-label debut album released last year. It earned him a Grammy nomination — his first — for best rap album, though the project lost to Cardi B’s multi-hit “Invasion of Privacy.”
Cardi B is the leading nominee at the BET Awards with seven, including two bids for the top prize — video of the year — thanks to her hits “Money” and “Please Me,” co-starring Bruno Mars.
Lil Nas X, whose “Old Town Road” is spending its 11th week at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, will perform the global hit alongside country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. Other performers include Migos, H.E.R., Lizzo, Lil Baby, Meek Mill, Fantasia, DaBaby, Jeremih and Kirk Franklin.
John Legend, DJ Khaled and YG will pay tribute to Hussle with a performance.
Nine-time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, and media mogul Tyler Perry will earn the Ultimate Icon Award.
Cardi B, who won two BET Awards last year, is also competing for album of the year, the viewer’s choice award and best female hip-hop artist, where her competition includes Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, Megan Thee Stallion, Kash Doll and Lizzo.
Hussle will compete with Drake, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Meek Mill and 21 Savage for best male hip-hop artist.